September 16, 2016

Rolex Big Boat Series Underway

In the choppy, gusty conditions yesterday on the Rolex Big Boat Series Alcatraz course, both Marstrom 32 catamarans dismasted. This one is Ravi Parent’s Aston Harald, seen on San Francisco Bay for the first time. The other was the Race to Alaska-beating Miller Racing.

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The biggest-ever Rolex Big Boat Series, with 127 entries, kicked off yesterday under a chilly fog that never quite cleared, at least on the Cityfront. The first race was relatively mellow, sailed on flat water in a dying flood, but the ebb chop and the wind kicked up for the second race. The crew of the Express 37 Stewball reported "super good racing" in breeze gusting to 27 knots, and they hit a top boat speed of 18.2.

J/105s start Race 2 on the Treasure Island course. At 26 boats, the 105s are not even the biggest division. That distinction belongs to the smallest boat in the regatta, the J/70s. BBS doubles as their Pre-Worlds, and 36 boats have come to San Francisco from as far away as Australia and China.

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Most of the boats sailed two long races yesterday, with the second race finishing in front of host club St. Francis YC, but the 36 J/70s kept to the Berkeley Circle yesterday and got in three windward/leewards. Joel Ronning’s Minnesota-based Catapult and Julian Fernandez Neckelmann’s Mexican Flojito y Cooperando are leading the pack, with Catapult one point ahead. “Those two are going to be tough to beat,” said Chris Snow, co-skipper of a local boat, the fifth-placed Cool Story, Bro. “Flojito is the reigning world champion. Catapult has John Kostecki as tactician, and they’ve been practicing a lot. It’s all about the buildup to the Worlds next week.” Kostecki, it may be remembered, is from the Bay Area and learned his craft in Richmond YC’s junior program.

Race 2 was a wet one for crews, as evidenced by this shot of Skip Ely’s Santa Cruz 52 Elyxir. "We were soaked," commented the crew of the Express 27 Stewball.

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For the first time, the Corsair trimarans fielded a substantial mini-fleet. Two F-31s and two F-27s raced. This is one of the latter, Amy Wells’ Wingit, which was the last boat to finish yesterday’s second race, triple-reefed, with no spinnaker, and the crew bundled up to fend off the chill.

latitude/Chris
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The conditions kept riggers and sailmakers busy all night. Among the fabric casualties were Bodacious+’s main and the C&C 30 Tiburon’s spinnaker. 

In a battle with Invisible Hand in the last leg of the second race, the Belvedere-based Tiburon blew out their spinnaker. Having won the first race, they fell to second place overall, but the five-boat one-design division is tightly packed on points.

latitude/Chris
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Some of Peregrine’s 10 crew at last night’s Rolex Party. They scored two bullets in the five-boat J/120 division yesterday. They’ve won this regatta the last two years.

latitude/Chris
©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Thursday’s racing was followed by the Rolex Party in the courtyard and Starting Line Room; today’s racing will be followed by the (in)famous Mount Gay Rum Party outdoors on the patch of dirt that was a lawn in pre-drought years. Both parties offer sailors good opportunities to catch up with one another.

More J/120 sailors at the Rolex Party: The crews of Twist and Kookaburra were fraternizing.

latitude/Chris
©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Racing continues through Sunday; check on results at www.rolexbigboatseries.com, and watch the racing live on the regatta’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/rolexbigboatseries.

More Ta-Ta Wind Would Be Nice

Santa Cruz Island was moody the first two days the Ta-Ta fleet was there. But the day the fleet left, it was sunny and bright. 

latitude/Richard
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Wind for the first three SoCal Ta-Ta’s — the Baja Ha-Ha-style cruisers’ rally from Santa Barbara to Catalina with stops at Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands Harbor and Paradise Cove — was mostly excellent. Unfortunately, not so much so this year.

That said, the first leg from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz Island was actually quite nice — the best so far in this year’s event. While there wasn’t more than 10 knots of wind, it came up early and allowed for a close reach all the way to the island. A number of boats sailed the entire distance.

As always, the sundowner get-togethers on Profligate were popular. 

latitude/Richard
©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The second leg from Santa Cruz Island to Channel Islands Harbor, and the third leg from Channel Islands to Paradise Cove, were both much lighter. Everybody got in some sailing under spinnaker, but not as much as they’d like. The only boat to sail the entire distance in either of these two legs was Pat McCormick’s Beneteau 440 St. Somewhere, a vet of all previous Ta-Ta’s.

Today is the last and longest leg, a 33-miler from Paradise to Two Harbors, Catalina. While we might get some afternoon breeze, it won’t be a rip-snorting last leg, as it was in several previous Ta-Tas. On the upside, though, the seas have been calm and — except for the first leg — the sun has been bright; very mellow out on the ocean.

On Santa Cruz Island, the pier area at Little Pelican was closed, but some Ta-Ta expeditioners didn’t find that to be an obstacle. When a young female ranger noticed, however, she didn’t have much of a sense of humor about it.

latitude/Richard
©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Fortunately, the Ta-Ta is as much about socializing as it is about sailing, and we’ve had great get-togethers. The kick-off dinner on the beach at the Santa Barbara YC was as you’d expect, then there were two sundowner parties aboard the committee boat Profligate for captains and first mates. There was some group hiking on Santa Cruz island, and a great BBQ on the dock at Channel Islands Harbor. Not only do the folks at Channel Islands Marina and Vintage Marina know how to throw a great BBQ, they provided almost every boat in the 34-boat fleet a free berth. You don’t see that often.

Anyway, great times. We wish you could be here for the last leg and the Awards BBQ and slide show. Maybe next year.

The Daydreams crew found the hiking on Santa Cruz Island to be just fine. That’s Anacapa Island in the background. 

Daydreams
©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Update: We are reminded to be careful what we hope for, as in terms of more wind. A local radio station in Malibu is reporting there is a chance of "light Santa Ana conditions" on Saturday and Sunday. Being on the ‘face’ of Catalina is problematic in Santa Ana conditions.

Tomorrow Is Coastal Cleanup Day

Volunteers clean up an East Bay wetland. It’s a great feeling to be part of this massive annual effort. 

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Just as the sport of sailing requires harnessing the power of the wind, those who take part in it can’t help but become acutely aware of their natural surroundings. Perhaps that’s why sailors (as well as other boaters) tend to be more concerned with the state of the environment than non-boaters. So we’ll remind you that tomorrow, September 17, is the annual California Coastal Cleanup Day, when volunteers of all stripes turn out to spruce up their favorite beaches, waterside parks and waterways.

Organizers tell us that last year nearly 70,000 volunteers removed almost 1.5 million pounds of trash and recyclables from California’s beaches, lakes and waterways. But since our spectacular state has more than 2,000 miles of coastal and inland shoreline, there’s always a need for additional help. 

Young volunteers on Newport Beach: Who knew that beachcombing for trash could be so much fun? 

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If you’d like get involved, click on this link to find a cleanup opportunity near you, or click here for links to county organizers.

We were impressed to learn that the California Coastal Cleanup is our state’s largest annual volunteer event. It is associated with the International Coastal Cleanup — organized by the Ocean Conservancy — which is the largest volunteer event on the planet. As someone once said, "If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem." So why not lend a hand?

"Look ma, I’m making a difference." Cub scouts join the statewide effort.

© California Coastal Commission
What’s the secret to catching awesome sunrise shots like this one? It helps to have a telephoto lens, but most importantly, you need to throw off your docklines and head south.
Last week we published a shout-out to young sailors in an effort to learn about their sailing habits, how they got started, and how we can do a better job of entertaining them in the pages of Latitude 38.  After our previous shout out, Santa Cruz sailor Hilary Walecka wrote in to tell us about our colorful sailing history.
Paralympic sailors are just like us — they mill about as the ‘cat in the hat’ flies from the startline boat, indicating a postponement.