September 14, 2015

A Great Ta-Ta Welcome from Santa Barbara

What a venue! The Santa Barbara YC’s beach facility for the Ta-Ta Kick-Off Party was perfect. 

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

One hundred and one sailors from 41 boats enjoyed perfect weather conditions for the SoCal Ta-Ta — Reggae ‘Pon Da Ocean’ — Kick-Off Party at Santa Barbara YC’s wonderful beach facility late yesterday. Entries came from as far north as San Francisco Bay and as far south as San Diego. The group includes everyone from circumnavigators such as Kurt and Katie Braun of the Alameda-based Deerfoot 74 Interlude to some relatively novice sailors.

For the last week the weather in Santa Barbara has been fabulous: sunny, warm, mostly dry, and fog-free. We were even opening the hatches in the middle of the night because it was so warm inside the boat. That’s not the norm. The great weather allowed Santa Barbara to show off its world-famous charm. And both Santa Barbara YC and the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol couldn’t have been more accommodating.

"It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive." The Ta-Ta fleet members enjoy themselves at the Kick-Off Dinner.

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The Ta-Ta schedule calls for the fleet to anchor at Smuggler’s Cove at Santa Cruz Island tonight and tomorrow night, with sundowners aboard Profligate. On Wednesday night Vintage Marina Partners and Channel Islands Marina in Channel Islands will provide free berthing — as they did last year — for all boats in the fleet but multihulls. And Frank Laza, formerly of the Bay Area, again plans to shuttle everyone around in his 18-person Duffy Electric boat. The marinas and Laza are eager to show that Channel Islands is a great — but under-appreciated — destination. Channel Islands Marina will also be the site of a big Ta-Ta BBQ on the floating docks.

And just for fun, a view of the Santa Barbara Yacht Harbor that you haven’t seen before. 

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The last two stops will be Paradise Cove, around the corner from Pt. Dume, and Two Harbors, Catalina. We wish you were all here.

MOD70 Capsizes in Indian Ocean

The MOD70 Race for Water, while on a global environmental mission, has capsized in the Indian Ocean. On her way from Palau to Chagos Islands on Saturday night, the trimaran flipped 90 miles southeast of the Chagos Archipelago. Thanks to the assistance of the military base in Diego Garcia, the crew was rescued this morning by the Pacific Marlin, a ship from the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). The crews of both the Pacific Marlin and Race for Water are currently attempting to right the trimaran in difficult conditions.

A map of the rescue area, with AIS targets showing the positions of the vessels involved.

© R4WO

Edward Lees, Commissioner’s Representative and Commander, British Forces of Diego Garcia, explained the operation: "A number of UK and US assets were deployed to assist with this complex incident; these included USNS Seay, military personnel, and the M/V Pacific Marlin. The crew is now safe on board the Pacific Marlin and discussions are on-going regarding the rendering of further assistance."

"The conditions have been really difficult for a few days, as often is the case in the Indian Ocean," says Stève Ravussin, the Swiss skipper of the expedition. "Big swell, high waves, and the fact that the crew were tired after the 32,000 miles that we have already traveled were some of the factors that triggered the unfortunate accident. We all agree that the expedition must continue. My priority now is to retrieve the trimaran."

What was a MOD70 trimaran doing in the middle of the Indian Ocean in the first place? The Race for Water Odyssey set off from Bordeaux, France, on March 15, with the goal of reaching the beaches of islands located in the ocean’s five vortexes of trash, in order to conduct the first global assessment of plastic pollution in oceans and bring to light its consequences on inhabitants. The plan is to complete this voyage in less than 300 days, thanks to the speed of the MOD70.

Race for Water in Honolulu, which the team visited in June, on her way eastabout the globe.

© R4WO

MOD70s are designed for racing; San Francisco Bay’s resident MOD70, Tom Siebel’s Orion, will be competing later this week at Rolex Big Boat Series, defending last year’s division win. Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD70 Phaedo3 has been racing in the Caribbean and Atlantic this year, with the RORC Atlantic Race on the schedule for November. Race for Water has been modified — the bows have been reinforced, enhancements have been made for the comfort of the six-man crew, and equipment has been added for the fulfillment of her mission. Learn more and follow the recovery efforts at

Alaska Racers Challenge Ellison

R2AK creator Jake Beattie, right, holds the personal challenge he’s about to mail to Oracle Team USA head Larry Ellison. A clever stunt, but we’d be amazed if Ellison took the bait.

R2AK Filmboss
©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A year ago, when we first heard about a newly conceived race from Port Townsend, Washington, to Ketchikan, Alaska, we had to wonder if the announcement was for real, especially since the 750-mile course was open to any sort of unassisted, engineless, sail-powered or human-powered craft, and it boasted a $10,000 prize for the first to finish. But the inaugural running of the so-called R2AK this summer proved to be a huge success. Looking ahead to next year’s race, event creator Jake Beattie has issued a personal challenge to Bay Area software mogul Larry Ellison to give the grueling race a try in an America’s Cup boat.

If Ellison and his team can simply complete the course without assistance in the allotted time frame, Beattie says, they’ll win a set of official R2AK steak knives, normally reserved for the second-place finisher. "You can do what you want with the knives," says Beatie with a straight face, "split them up with the crew; if you want to give some to Spithill it’s totally up to you. And to show you we’re serious, we’ll even waive the entry fee" ($650 plus $100 per secondary crew member). 

Talk about a novel publicity stunt. Madison Avenue spinmeisters couldn’t have come up with a better promotional sound bite.

Check out the complete video announcement.

As reported earlier, this year’s challenging race — likened to an Iditarod on the water — saw a 50% dropout rate, with 15 watercraft finishing, including a one-man kayak. Team Elsie Piddock won the $10,000 in a borrowed Farrier F-25c trimaran, while Team MOB Mentality on the Farrier 28 Mail Order Bride took the steak knives — but split them with third-place Team Por Favor, on a Hobie 33, acknowledging the hard-fought battle between the two. Learn more about the 2016 R2AK here.

In the aftermath of last weekend’s tragic late-night boating accident in Catalina’s Descanso Bay that took the lives of two young boaters, another on-the-water fatality occurred yesterday, 26 miles away at Two Harbors. 
In the wake of America’s Cup 34 — where deep-pocketed syndicates dumped unprecedented resources into the development and advancement of foiling technology — more and more boats have begun flying.
Before you take off sailing this weekend, remember that September 15 is the deadline to enter this fall’s Baja Ha-Ha cruising rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas.