September 18, 2015

Not Your Ordinary Ta-Ta

Among possible candidates for the ‘face’ of this year’s Ta-Ta are Kurt and Katie Braun of the Deerfoot 74 Interlude. The circumnavigators not only sailed down from their home in Alameda for the event and dressed to the hilt for each of the social events, but Katie brought warm, moist, freshly baked bagels to the sundowner party on Profligate.

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This hasn’t been the most typical SoCal Ta-Ta, which is the cruisers’ rally from Santa Barbara to Catalina with stops at Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands Harbor and Paradise Cove. What wind there was for the 45 boats during the Santa Barbara-to-Santa Cruz Island leg came out of the east rather than the west. That was almost as weird as the fact that it rained both nights at drought-stricken Santa Cruz Island. The fleet was visited by a Coast Guard helicopter and small boat after dark one night after a member of the fleet "accidentally" set off a flare. That made things interesting.

A few of the Ta-Ta boats on the hook at Smuggler’s Cove, Santa Cruz Island. A few boats anchored around the corner at Scorpion — until they got rolled out by the swell on the second night 

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Then there was a streak of normality. The sail from Santa Cruz Island to Channel Islands Harbor was a lovely close reach that turned into a pleasant spinnaker run. The welcome mat was laid out at Channel Islands Marina by Dan and Michele of Vintage Marina Partners and their friends. Their hospitality was off the graph, as always. Where else does a fleet get free berths? And have such wonderful party hosts?

Then there was the middle-of-the-night tsunami from Chile. While the Tsunami Center advised everyone to take their boats out of marinas from San Onofre to north of Santa Barbara, none of the Ta-Ta skippers did. Fortunately, no boats were the worse for not going to sea.

Troy and Michele Stone’s Island Packet 460 Insula looked great spinnaker reaching from Santa Cruz Island to Channel Islands. They paid $450 for the chute that they found advertised in Latitude’s Classy Classifieds. 

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Yesterday’s sail from Channel Islands to Paradise Cove was back on the abnormal side, with the wind along one of the windiest parts of the Southern California coast rarely if ever getting over 10 knots. Most boats nonetheless sailed the entire way, enjoying flat seas, blue skies and brilliant sunshine. And for once, there were no torn chutes.

Vintage Marina Partners – Channel Islands Marina hosted the Ta-Ta fleet again this year with free berths. Channel Islands Harbor is a largely undiscovered gem on the coast, and the natives couldn’t be more friendly. 

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Fog? It looks as if it will be another fog-free Ta-Ta, as there wasn’t a trace of the nasty stuff this morning before the start of the 33-mile leg to Two Harbors, Catalina. The wind isn’t expected to get to much over 10 knots, so fortunately it’s usually a close reach, which will hopefully allow at least some of the boats to sail most if not all of the way. Nobody will want to get there late, however, as circumnavigators Kurt and Katie Braun are inviting the entire 120 participants aboard their Deerfoot 74 Interlude for Buffalo Milk.

The Ta-Ta wraps up on Saturday evening with a potluck/awards party on the beach at Two Harbors.

This year’s leg from Channel Islands Harbor to Paradise Cove was no spinnaker ripper, as the winds were mellow. Scott Stephens’ Catana 411 Santana is in the foreground.

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As always, the best part of any sailing event is the people you meet. And what a great Ta-Ta group! Last night we met Adam and Jessica Heinicke of the San Diego-based Catalina Morgan 440 Volare, We were impressed to learn that he’s a Blackhawk pilot with two tours of Iraq to his credit. We were even more impressed when his wife Jessie, a vivacious and lovely blonde who could work in front of the cameras in Hollywood, allowed that while she’s now an ER nurse, she also did two tours in Iraq — as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot!

Momentum Building for Super 12s

Tennis has Wimbledon. Golf has the Masters. Horse racing has the Kentucky Derby. Most sports have a premier event that comes to personify, for better or worse, all of its participants. But sailing is different. It’s not merely a competitive sport. In addition to racing, there’s cruising, daysailing and vacation chartering, and there are all sorts of boats including dinghies, monohull keelboats and multihulls. 

We’d bet that many sailors feel that their particular way of enjoying the sport should be recognized as the purest expression of sailing. But what event gives the most compelling vision of sailing? Into the eclectic world of sailing events, ringmaster Tom Ehman has launched a new event called the San Francisco Yacht Racing Challenge. As described in his St. Francis Yacht Club talk on Wednesday, he sees it as the first ‘crowd-sourced’ yachting challenge of its kind.

Crowd sourcing sailing. The beautiful half-models of classic 12s served as a backdrop for Tom Ehman and some of the 100+ dreamers and doers attending Ehman’s San Francisco Yacht Racing Challenge presentation. Look for ‘Super 12’s on the water and on the wall soon.

latitude/John A.
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What has emerged from the input of many passionate sailors is an event that is energizing a growing cadre of boosters. A race that connects to the heart and soul of sailing’s heritage, presents the iconic beauty and elegance of sailing with a ‘modern classic design’, and pumps it all up with powerful performance and competitive crews in some of the most challenging course-racing conditions in the world – San Francisco Bay.

Judging by the enthusiastic response of the gathered crowd at the St. Francis meeting, and the ever-growing cast of volunteers, supporters and prospective teams, Ehman’s vision is capturing the momentum needed for takeoff. The boats, Bruce Farr-designed ‘Super-12s’ have a heart-tugging beauty. These new monohulls will be built to strict one-design rules to ensure a competition of sailor against sailor, rather than bank account vs. bank account. The rule, as currently drafted, eliminates essentially all modern electronic crutches, and allows only a Windex, VHF radio, compass and depth sounder, thus requiring all sailors to reacquaint themselves with the elements: the motion of the ocean, and intuitive tactical decisions that have ruled sailboat races for eons.  

Although we have not yet seen the complete design specs, our understanding is that the new Farr-designed Super 12s will be in the 70-ft range. 

Farr Yacht Design
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Nationality rules will appeal to those who like to root for countries rather than corporations, and each crew of twelve will be required to include men, women and youth. 

Although the first keel has not yet been laid for this class, plans are well underway, and the first races are tentatively scheduled for July 2017. But whenever the first starting gun of the San Francisco Yacht Racing Challenge is fired, there will undoubtedly be many sailors captivated by the drama of this exciting new fleet under sail.

Hear Sally-Christine’s Voyaging Tales

Many newly released books cross our desks here at Latitude 38 ‘world headquarters’. One recent standout was Convergence – A Voyage Through French Polynesia (Paradise Cay Publications), by Sally-Christine Rodgers. It details a voyage taken by the author, husband Randy Repass (founder of West Marine) and their teenage son aboard Convergence, their custom-built Wylie 65 cat.

"Although the custom-built vessel is more high-end than most cruising boats out there," wrote our reviewer, John Riise, in the January 2015 Latitude, "Rodgers’ splendid presentation and down-to-earth style (with frequent homages to her seafaring father) ranks this as one of the best cruising books we’ve ever seen. Every spread in Convergence comes alive with excellent photography. If we had to be stuck on a desert island with only one book to read, this would be an excellent choice."

The family strikes of pose before the volcanic peaks of the Marquesas shortly before making landfall.

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If you’ll be in Southern California next week, make note of two opportunities to pick up a signed copy of this beautiful book, meet the author, and enjoy her live presentation:

• September 22, 7 p.m. at Los Angeles Women in Sailing at the Shoreline YC (562-435-4093 or email here)
• September 24, 6 p.m. at the California Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey (310-823-4567 or email here)

After a zillion hours of volunteer labor, the Golden Rule is whole again, and sailing the West Coast with her message of peace.  © 2015 Golden Rule Project If you have sympathies for the anti-nuke movement, you won’t want to miss the chance to check out the original ‘peace boat’, the Golden Rule, which is scheduled to arrive in San Francisco Bay this Sunday.