Although the San Francisco wind machine cranked up to a good 20 knots in the afternoon on Thursday and Friday for Rolex Big Boat Series, the usual chilly breeze was replaced by a sudden heat wave on the weekend. On Saturday, only one race was completed out of the two scheduled — and that one started after 2 p.m. Sunday was a complete shutout, with crews more concerned with keeping their cool than working on race strategy.
The regatta, hosted with top-notch organization by myriad professionals and volunteers alike, is almost as famous for its shoreside socializing as it is for excellent racing.
We’ll have a full race report in the October 1 issue. In the meantime, see www.rolexbigboatseries.com for results and much more.
Back in the 1980s, big beautiful schooners were still among the most desirable offerings of Caribbean charter fleets, and a number of high-profile celebrities were often seen in popular anchorages of St. Barth, Bequia and elsewhere, aboard their splendid old-timey boats: Bob Dylan’s schooner Waterpearl and Neil Young’s Baltic Trader Ragland, were among the most famous back then. But these days, the times they are a changin’.
While state-of-the-art megayachts — both power and sail — now dominate the Caribbean’s luxury charter scene, many celebrities have swapped traditional yachts for high-tech vessels built for speed, comfort and easy access to that clear, turquoise water. A standout within this trend is crooner Jimmy Buffett’s sexy new Surfari 44, designed by Ted Fountaine of Friendship Yacht Company, and currently being built by Pacific Seacraft in North Carolina with a November launch target.
Among its slick innovations is its fold-down transom "tailgate" that doubles as a swim step; a sun-protected helm station in the deck-level salon with 360-degree visibility due to large forward and side windows, and sliding glass cockpit doors; and "push-button" controls for running rigging, all of which is led to the cockpit.
As you might image, Jimmy’s Surfari 44 (whose name has not yet been released), employs composite construction with a carbon mast and boom. She’ll carry both a roller-furling genoa and a furling asymmetrical spinnaker on a sprit, both of which are controllable from the salon. When winds go light, her twin 75-hp auxiliaries will ensure that Jimmy doesn’t miss the party.
A lifelong waterman, Jimmy Buffett has owned many power- and sailboats — including the beautiful Cheoy Lee Clipper Euphoria II, aboard which he penned Cheeseburger in Paradise and other Caribbean classics. It’s anybody’s guess what sort of tunes Jimmy’s sleek new ride will inspire.
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Renaud Laplanche and Ryan Breymaier brought new meaning to the rent-a-boat concept. During their six-month rental of the 105-ft VPLP maxi-tri Lending Club 2, they challenged and shattered three prestigious sailing records — most notably here on the West Coast, the outright Los Angeles-to-Honolulu record, with the jaw-dropping time of 3 days and 19 hours.
Previously the pair and their crewmates smashed both the Newport-Bermuda and Cowes, GBR-to-Dinard, FRA, records. (In previous incarnations, this boat sailed as Banque Populaire VII and Groupama 3.)
"From the start we agreed we would have an open-door policy," said Breymaier in a statement last week, "and whenever possible we made the boat available for visits at the dock. Our skipper, Renaud, invited all the Lending Club employees to come sailing, and over 1000 of them took him up on the offer. We took children from sailing schools and students from all backgrounds, and as young as five and six years old. We took hundreds of Lending Club guests and business partners in both New York and San Francisco. Everyone without exception had the opportunity to drive the boat if they wanted to and everyone came back to shore with a huge smile and an unforgettable souvenir."
For a recap of the team’s remarkable half-year campaign, check out this recently released video:
Courtesy Lending Club
For more see the team’s Facebook page.