November 4, 2015

Ha-Ha Leg 3 Underway

The scene yesterday on Profligate, Baja Ha-Ha’s mothership, anchored in Bahia Santa Maria.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

At 7 a.m. today the Baja Ha-Ha rally’s starting horn rang out via VHF across the Bahia Santa Maria anchorage, announcing the start of Leg 3, a 180-miler to Cabo San Lucas. The early start was scheduled so the smaller boats in the 111-boat fleet would not have to spend two nights at sea before arriving at the Cape. Winds of 15-20 knots and choppy sea conditions are expected today, continuing tomorrow with possible squalls. The event’s Grand Poobah predicts this could be the fastest Leg 3 ever.

A drone’s-eye view of the surf and anchorage in Bahia Santa Maria.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Since we checked in on Monday, fleet members spent two wonderful days in remote BSM, a vast crescent bay notched into the upper peninsula that defines Magdalena Bay. On Monday, aka Santa Maria Day, many sailors swam in the 80° water, walked the sandy beaches, or hiked the steep, shaley hillsides. Yesterday was the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Beach Party, sponsored by the local fisherfolk. If you followed our reports on previous Ha-Ha’s, you know that these annual fiestas are always surreal scenes set on a bluff overlooking the bay with dancing to a live band that makes the long trek up from La Paz — 100 miles up the highway, 40 miles over the desert, across a river, and 15 miles down the beach at low tide.

The dance party is set up on the bluff overlooking the beach.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

During Leg 2 from Bahia Tortugas to Bahia Santa Maria the fleet saw a full palette of sailing conditions: The wind clocked from northwest to northeast to southeast and ranged from 2 to 30 knots. Stay tuned for our Friday report, by which time all the boats should have arrived in Cabo San Lucas.

Breeze On in Mini Transat

Davy Beaudart’s Flexirub leads a group of Minis departing Lanzarote on October 31.

© 2015 Jacques Vapillon / Mini Transat Îles de Guadeloupe

After one of the longer scheduled stopovers in recent memory, the 20th edition of the Mini Transat — one of the most extreme ocean races on the planet — is back under way, having started on Saturday. After sailing 1,250 miles from Douarnenez, France, to Spain’s Canary Islands in the first leg, the fleet spent nearly a month in Lanzarote before departing for the 2,764-mile second leg to Îles de Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. With skippers immediately stepping out into challenging breeze-on conditions, risk management and finding the right balance between speed and safety was the rule of the day, with many sailing in survival mode while others pushed hard to make up miles lost during the first leg.

Despite vowing to sail conservatively with the chief goal being not to break the boat, the race’s overall leader has unfortunately done just that. Sailing his revolutionary and unique scow-bow prototype, Frenchman Davy Beaudart, winner of the first leg aboard the Raison-designed prototype 865 Flexirub, has retired with a blown medium spinnaker and hull delamination issues on the transom.

Another view of Flexirub shows the proto’s blunt, bowl-shaped bow.

© Jacques Vapillon / Mini Transat Îles de Guadeloupe

While the odds-on favorite limps to port, Frenchman Frédéric Denis has begun to open up a commanding lead on Nautipark, a Marc Lombard-designed prototype, which was abandoned and eventually salvaged during the notorious 2013 race.

Frédéric Denis’ Nautipark, with a more conventional bow shape, has taken over the lead from the stricken Flexirub.

© Jacques Vapillon / Mini Transat Îles de Guadeloupe

In the Series division (production boats), after a shake-up in the rankings during the initial stages of the second leg, Frenchman Ian Lipinski has worked his way into a narrow lead on his Etienne Bertrand-designed Ofcet 6.50 Entreprise(s) Innovante(s). After two years of hard work, training, boat development, and solid results, Lipinski and his 21-ft weapon have solidified themselves as the favorite in the Series division, having already claimed victory during the first leg.

Ian Lipinski on the Ofcet 6.50 Entreprise(s) Innovante(s).

© 2015 Jacques Vapillon / Mini Transat Îles de Guadeloupe

While the breeze has backed off from the start four days ago, the fleet is still making incredible progress, with the leaders reeling off upward of 270 miles made good in a 24-hour period, an incredible pace for solo skippers on 21-ft boats! As the fleet passes the Cape Verde Islands off Africa, the North Atlantic remains quite active, creating a compression of the isobars and an elongated high pressure to the north that should continue to provide consistent easterly trade winds of 15-20 knots, perfect to push the fleet to Îles de Guadeloupe in rapid fashion.

Maritime Heroes Among Us

Old Pulteney and US Sailing have teamed up to honor men and women in sailing communities around the country for their outstanding humanitarian achievements. The Maritime Heroes Award recognizes those who are making significant contributions to volunteer, educate, advocate or simply encourage others to explore the sport.

After suffering a spinal cord injury, Richard Ramos thought he would never be able to compete in sports again. But he and engineer Aleef Mahmud created an adaptive system that allows him, and eventually others with similar traumatic injuries, the opportunity to sail again. Ramos and Mahmud were last year’s winners.

© 2015 Old Pulteney

For the first time ever this year, in addition to being honored at the US Sailing Leadership Forum in 2016, the winner will receive a $5,000 grant to continue his or her efforts within the sailing community 

The nomination period will begin tomorrow, November 5, and run through November 20, 2015, on Our readers surely know of many worthy recipients on the West Coast, and we encourage them to nominate a sailor whose humanitarian efforts in the maritime community deserves recognition.

The Baja Ha-Ha fleet is safe and sound in Bahia Santa Maria after great sailing for much of the 260-mile second leg of the rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas.
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"One more milestone!" wrote Donna Lange in her sailing blog last week. "I am now past the Cape (of Good Hope) and Agulhas Point, the southernmost tip of Africa."