Looking for a good time, sailor? If you’re in the Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta ) area, it all starts this Friday, December 11, with Riviera Nayarit’s Sailors’ Splash Welcome for Ha-Ha vets and cruisers of all stripes at the Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz. Starting at 7 p.m. under the big tent near the car entrance to the marina, there will be music, free T-shirts, free beverages and such, welcoming everyone to the area and the new sailing season. It’s so much fun that the Wanderer is flying in from San Francisco that afternoon.
The Splash is followed, after a Saturday lay day, by the three-race, nothing-serious, Ha-Ha-style ‘racing’ of the Banderas Bay Blast. ‘Race’ your ‘home’! The courses are relatively short and easy on the warm, flat waters of Banderas Bay. Sunday’s race is around the cans off La Cruz, to be followed by a short party at the Marina Riviera Nayarit swimming pool area. Tuesday is the ‘race’ up to eight-mile-distant Punta Mita for the annual opening of the Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club. Membership in this exclusive club is limited to those who sail there, but only costs $1 per lifetime. The initiation rite is somewhat painful, however, but nothing good ever came easy.
The last day of the Blast is the Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run for Charity from Punta Mita to Paradise Village Marina, where esteemed harbormaster Dick Markie will provide participants with free berthing for the night. It all ends with a fun gathering at the Vallarta YC, adjacent to the Paradise Village Marina. Participants are encouraged to take guests aboard for this race for a $20 donation. The course is a lovely 12-mile spinnaker run. The money is used to buy school supplies for the local schools.
Without even looking at a weather forecast, we predict the daily highs will be 85, the lows 71, and the winds 7 to 17 knots with flat seas. The ocean temps will be in the low 80s. We’re talking total pleasure sailing conditions.
One ritual that first-time offshore sailors are often encouraged to participate in is trying to catch a glimpse of the mysterious green flash, which, they are told, sometimes appears on the horizon just after the sun sets on an exceptionally clear horizon — or just before sunrise.
Try as they might, though, many sailors never have any luck observing one, and eventually conclude that ‘flash’ hunting is a fool’s errand — about as likely to be seen as the Comet Kohoutek. But we can testify that green flashes really do happen, although only for a second or two when conditions are just right. They’re not optical illusions, but real phenomena that occur, we’re told, because Earth’s atmosphere separates the sun’s light into different colors.
You can observe them at any latitude, although their appearance is likely to be quicker the closer you are to the equator. And you can observe them from any altitude. Pilots often see them from high altitudes, especially when heading west toward the setting sun. If you’ve never been lucky enough to see a green flash, don’t give up. Perhaps you just need to do more offshore sailing.
The falling price of oil has apparently not dampened the Omani passion for sailing, nor their ability to host a grand (and pricey) regatta. The Sultanate of Oman will earn a page in sporting history when it becomes the first country in the Middle East to host America’s Cup racing on February 27-28, 2016.
Muscat will host the first of four to six Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series events to be held in 2016 in foiling AC45 catamarans. The monarchy’s capital city has been hosting high-performance multihull racing every year since 2011, and Cup players such as Sir Ben Ainslie, Dean Barker and Franck Cammas are familiar with the warm waters of the Gulf of Oman, the sunny climate, and, generally speaking, the 10-15 knots of breeze.
"Oman Sail has worked hard since 2008 to reconnect the people of Oman with their sailing roots and to create a generation of sailors," said the CEO of Oman Sail, David Graham. "We have a very successful youth, women, national and international sailing program and are actively generating socio-economic benefits for the country and contributing to the development of the Omani people through sailing. Hosting a Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event will provide huge inspiration to our sailors and take us closer to our aims."
The only other 2016 event scheduled so far is ACWS Chicago, coming to the shores of Lake Michigan on June 10–12. A ‘limited edition’ Chicago Holiday Pack is on sale now. See www.americascup.com for more info.