Despite the fact that two out of three of the legs in the 750-mile Baja Ha-Ha cruisers rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas featured lighter wind than any of the 478 people on the 133 boats would have liked, the event was still a capital-B Blast (and the sailing in the 240-mile second leg was fabulous).
That’s because the Ha-Ha is more than the sum of its many parts, which include, but are not limited to, the 360-mile first leg, the 240-mile second leg, the 175-mile third leg, the pre-event seminars, the Kick-Off Costume Party, the baseball game in Turtle Bay, the beach party in Turtle Bay, the lay day; hiking/ beachcombing/ surfing at Bahia Santa Maria, the surreal rock ‘n’ roll party on the bluff overlooking Bahia Santa Maria, the crossing the Tropic of Taurus initiation, the going a little crazy at the rock-out at Squid Roe, the beach party at Cabo, the awards ceremony, the daily roll call and nets, the full moon, the Milky Way, the whales, the dolphins, the landed fish, the romances initiated and consumated and so much more.
Actually, it’s not even the parts of the Ha-Ha that make it so special, but the people. No matter if they were 18 months or 84 years old, this year’s Ha-Ha participants were terrific. So once again the Ha-Ha was a massive group adventure in which countless friendships were made, many to last across the Pacific and a few for a lifetime. So much happens in the two-week Ha-Ha, it seems as though the start — with the three fire-hose-blasting Port of San Diego fireboats — was two long months before. During the non-stop action of the Ha-Ha, ‘back home’ hardly exists.
Among the more entertaining parts of this year’s rally was the Here to Eternity Kissing Contest held at the conclusion of the beach party at Medano Beach in Cabo San Lucas. While the world-famous competition was close, honors went to Walt "Still Has Sand In His Shorts" Childson of Knot Right and his girlfriend Jeariene Bacon.
"I’m Walt’s girlfriend of seven years, and couldn’t sail with him on the Ha-Ha because of a little thing called work," wrote Jeariene. "But the anticipation of meeting him in Cabo, and hearing about all the fun everyone had was exhilarating! Perhaps that’s what led to the passion of our award-winning kiss! I hadn’t seen the movie From Here to Eternity, but Walt described the scene and we went for it! Rolling in the surf and reenacting in front of hundreds of people was so much fun. Indeed, the Grand Poobah’s passion for putting on such a great event was reflected in the intensity of our kiss!"
This year’s Ha-Ha was such a success that the Wanderer is going to be flown to Israel by Erez Ben-Eshay, who is on his third circumnavigation, to try to initiate a similar event in the Med. As wild as it might seem, Ben-Eshay thinks he can convince as many as six or seven skippers in the Israeli circumnavigators club to come to California with their boats to do the Ha-Ha.
It’s not as far-fetched as it might seem, as Randall and Lennie Smith of the Delray Beach, Florida-based Leopard 48 Happy Together came all the way from the East Coast to do the Ha-Ha. "It’s the most fun we’ve had in 18,000 miles of cruising," said Randall, who along with his wife won the Happiest Couple Award. They’re taking delivery of hull #1 of the Leopard 50s a year from now, at which time they’ll start their circumnavigation.
It was great to have a number of circumnavigators in the fleet again, as well as some folks from Europe who have been out for many years. Such as Olivier Hendryx of Basel, Switzerland, a Canadian who was born in Casablanca, and who has been out cruising with his sweetie Brenda on their Lagoon 470 Inspirity for seven years. They’ve crossed the Atlantic, done the Caribbean, rounded Cape Horn going the wrong way, and sailed all around the Pacific, including Alaska.
Nor do we want to forget our dear German friends Lutz and Gabriele Pestel of Hamburg, Germany, on their Reinke 44 SuAn. They’ve been out about as long as Inspirity, having spent many enjoyable years in the South Pacific, the region they are headed back to.
Among the other circumnavigators were Charlie and Cathy Simon of the Seattle-based Taswell 58 Celebrate. Having just completed a Northwest Passage, they were nice enough to present the Grand Poobah with some ice from the Arctic for his celebratory drink in Cabo. The natural stuff tastes better than the machine- made kind.
But the heart of the Ha-Ha remains the regular West Coast folks, with their Downeasts, their Islander 36s, their Catalina 42s, their Beneteaus and Jeanneaus. Many of these folks have been sailing for years, but only now have gotten the chance to go international for a few weeks — if not a few months. What an adventurous and fun-loving group!
By the way, the second leg sailing was superb. While the 63-ft catamaran mothership Profligate finished the second leg first in fleet, Jim Barber’s Los Angeles YC-based Jeanneau 439 Feleena, with several Transpac vets aboard, was only about two hours back. And Mark and Deb Lowry’s Richmond-based Wauquiez Centurion 42 Chance just a tad after Feleena. While both boats flew chutes during the day, they made excellent use of going wing-on-wing to sail deep and fast at night.
High speed honors in the second leg and the event, however, went to Michael and Vicki Novak’s Ventura-based Chris White designed 44-ft trimaran Bonzer. They hit 18+ knots with reduced white sails and 19+ with a spinnaker up.
Ha-Ha bits and pieces:
1) The use of InReach and several other electronic devices for checking as opposed to the SSB was a terrific success. Even those with Ham and SSB radios found it easy to do. Which is not to say the SSB won’t continue to be used for the daily Children’s Hour.
2) Patsy ‘La Reina del Mar’ Verhoeven of the Gulfstar 50 Talion stepped up to be a terrific Assistant Poobah. She and the Grand Poobah have agreed to run the event for at least six more years. There is simply no better place to be or thing to do at that time of year.
3) Here’s the straight poop on getting a TIP and checking in at Cabo. First, forget getting your TIP online. It’s way easier and less confusing to get it at the Mexican consulate in L.A., San Bernardino, or Sacramento rather than online. (Not at the consulates in San Francisco or San Diego), or at Customs at Otay Mesa, a few miles from Tijuana. Online is a mess. Second, there was no problem with people just showing up at Immigration in Cabo and getting their tourist cards there. It didn’t hurt that each Ha-Ha entrant was given a special welcome and burgee by the Mexican government.
Next year’s Ha-Ha will start on October 29. As it will be the 25th Ha-Ha, we expect the fleet will be one of the biggest ever.
Seth Clark, owner of the Express 27 Current Affair, wrote the following on the Cal Sailing Club listserve:
"There is a large deadhead (submerged log) just west X buoy. It has been in the same location for a few weeks. It is hard to see by day and would not be visible at night." The location Clark refers to is west of XOC, a yellow cylinder that was the center of the old Olympic Circle off Berkeley.
"I’ll try to reach US Army Corps of Engineers tomorrow."
If you’re transiting the area this week, keep an eye out.
While racing in the Transat Jacques Vabre in 25-knot northeasterlies with violent squalls of 35 knots and a cross sea, the Multi50 trimaran Drekan Groupe capsized 300 miles from San Miguel in the Azores. The co-skippers, Eric Defert and Christopher Pratt, safe inside the boat, triggered their emergency beacon. They were rescued by the Dutch cargo ship Beautriton. "Our rescuers arrived in the area at half-past midnight," said Defert. "They circled around us all night; they did a great job. The rescue was epic because there was a lot of sea and wind. Their boat only had a small 15hp engine. They came to save us, and we found out that one of them was having a birthday. So, maybe his gift was saving two lives."
In happier TJV news, two maxi-trimarans optimized for shorthanded sailing have just arrived in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. The doublehanded Transatlantic race has been won in record time by Thomas Coville and Jean-Luc Neilas on Sodebo Ultim’; they fought off a tough challenge from Seb Josse and Thomas Rouxel on the new fully foiling maxi Edmond de Rothschild aka Gitana 17. Engaged in a back-and-forth battle in the North Atlantic, Sodebo Ultim’ managed to get west before her foiling rival and build a small lead which would hold all the way to the finish line, with the duo separated by just an hour or two for the rest of the race. Jean-Pierre Dick and Yann Eliès are leading the IMOCA 60 division. In the Multi50 trimaran division, Erwan le Roux and Vincent Riou on FenêtréA – Mix Buffet holds a slim one-mile lead over Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella on Arkema with the two effectively match-racing across the Atlantic. In the Class 40s, an equally close race is taking place as Maxime Sorel and Antoine Carpentier on V and B (Wine and Beer) has taken the lead back from Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde on Imerys Clean Energy.
Halfway between Brazil and South Africa, François Gabart and his VPLP-designed maxi-trimaran Macif are making massive gains on Thomas Coville and the current reference time in Gabart’s attempt to break Coville’s one-year-old solo around-the-world record. After slowing while crossing the doldrums, Gabart lost more than 400 miles, watching his lead of around 200 miles turn into a deficit of the same amount. Since touching the southeast breeze and then clearing the easternmost point of Brazil, Gabart has been off to the races. Currently hooking into his first low-pressure system, François is looking at a dream run across the South Atlantic Ocean. Current routing projections show Gabart reaching the Cape of Good Hope three days from now, which would put him at the Cape in a time of 12 days since starting. It took Coville 14 days to reach the same point last year. Gabart’s lead is currently around 300 miles on the reference time.
In the Volvo Ocean Race, seven Volvo 65s are making their way south across the Atlantic single-file with the Chinese/French Dongfeng Race Team leading the Spanish MAPFRE and the American/Danish Vestas 11th Hour Racing by just a handful of miles. The fleet of one-design monohulls has shown incredible parity, almost perfectly matching one another on boatspeed at all times. Slowing only a bit at the doldrums, they’re beginning to reach the new breeze and re-accelerate, following one another like slot cars at the moment. The race should become infinitely more interesting in the South Atlantic Ocean as tactical options will begin to open. The fleet is currently headed to Cape Town, South Africa. Look for the back markers — only about 50 miles behind the leaders — to be aggressive and jump on a potential flyer that may get them to Cape Town first.
In the Mini Transat, pre-race favorite Ian Lipinski leads Jorg Rëichers by about 80 miles in the Prototype division while Erwan Draoulec leads female sailor Clarisse Cremer by about 100 miles. Cremer has threatened to win both legs of the race, sailing among the leaders in the 56-boat Series division. Lipinski should arrive in Martinique in about a day’s time. In today’s report, we learn that Vedran Kabalin has contacted race management to alert them to the fact that his boat, Eloa Island of Osinj, has dismasted.
As if all of this weren’t enough, Yann Guichard and crew on Spindrift 2 (ex-Banque Populaire V) have gone into standby mode to attempt the Jules Verne Trophy, the outright round-the-world record. See the team’s media presentation here.
Bay Area sailor and world-renowned navigator Stan Honey has been elected by the board of directors of the Sailing Yacht Research Foundation (SYRF) as their new chairman. The group was formed in 2006 with the goal "to develop and catalog the science underlying sailboat performance resulting in more accurate sailboat handicapping formulae for the benefit of all racing sailors."
Phew. Sounds like a perfect task for Stan, who’s solved myriad technical puzzles, from early street mapping to television sports viewing enhancements, including the Emmy Award-winning America’s Cup programming. And perhaps most difficult of all, ratings for race boats, even Bay Area PHRF fleets.
Stan describes the SYRF (which can be pronounced ‘surf’) as an organization of "yachtsmen absolutely committed to racing under rating rules based on science," and said that organization is similar to an open-source research foundation. SYRF is "intended to be a resource for academics, professionals and the general public providing a central location to access papers, articles, research data, and other sailboat performance related information," SYRF’s website said.
"The [research] is always published, and it can be used for any rating rule, or used by any naval architect. It’s kind of like a little national science foundation," Stan told Latitude, adding that many rating systems were making mistakes, because they were based on dated tank-test research. The various ratings slowly corrected themselves and evolved over the years, but still lacked a solid foundation.
Regarding SYRF, Stan said: "We’re not supporters of any one rating system. We’re supporters of the sport."
Honey is taking over from the role held by Steve Benjamin, who will remain on the board. Both Honey and Benjamin are well-recognized world-class sailors and past winners of US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award.