The 50th Transpac Race to Honolulu will start from Los Angeles this July, but the 100th entry came from the San Francisco Bay Area. Chris Welsh’s classic Spencer 65 Ragtime, out of Point Richmond’s Brickyard Cove, will be racing her 17th Transpac. That’s more editions than any other boat has done. Welsh has owned Ragtime since 2004. Since then, he’s raced her in the 2005, 2007 and 2009 Transpacs, the 2008 race to Tahiti, and the 2008 Sydney Hobart Race.
With her sleek, hard-chined hull, Ragtime began her life in 1963 as Infidel. John Spencer built her of plywood for the race car driver Tom Clark. Beating the legendary Windward Passage in 1973, she set a course record. She won the Barn Door Trophy again in 1975. She has seen different configurations of keels, rudders and rigs come and go. In preparation for this summer’s racing, Welsh is outfitting her with a new, lighter engine and new winches. He expects to have a shot at the King Kalakaua Trophy for the overall winner on corrected time.
After the Transpac, Welsh plans a 2020 East Coast tour. For those adventures, he intends to add a new, lighter carbon mast.
If you are one of the many sailors making plans to participate in this fall’s Baja Ha-Ha XXVI — more than 10,000 sailors on over 3,000 boats have preceded you in the last 25 years — please note that the event will start a week later than in recent years. The Ha-Ha Costume Kick-Off Party will be on November 3, and the awards ceremony will be on November 16.
The Ha-Ha, of course, is the annual cruisers’ rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, with R&R stops at funky Turtle Bay and pristine Bahia Santa Maria. The event is open to boats over 27-feet in length that were designed, built and have been maintained for open ocean sailing. Last year, 149 boats and 551 sailors participated, keeping its place as the largest long-distance sailing event on the West Coast.
There are two excellent reasons that the event will start later than in previous years. First, to avoid any conflicts with several fishing tournaments in Cabo that greatly reduce the number of available slips in the marina. By starting on November 3, we’ll arrive after all the tournaments have ended for the season.
Second, given the vagaries of climate change, the later start date further reduces the already very slight chance of a tropical storm threatening the Ha-Ha. For the record, even when the Ha-Ha started two weeks earlier, as it did for the first 20-some years, there was never a tropical storm to cross the Ha-Ha path. But the later date gives an even greater buffer.
The November 3-16 dates also work out well because Thanksgiving is so much later in the month — November 28 — than in most years.
A second significant change is that the fleet will now spend an extra day at Bahia Santa Maria, always the fleet favorite, and one less day in Cabo. Spending an extra day in BSM will mean participants can have a more leisurely perspective on the 240-mile second leg.
The schedule will also allow for some flexibility. For example, boats that signed up late but absolutely have to get a slip in Cabo might elect to leave Bahia Santa Maria one day early to get a slip for one day only in Cabo. But don’t worry, we’ll still have the big, silly party at Squid Roe and the world famous From Here to Eternity Kissing Contest.
The Grand Poobah, who will be leading the Baja Ha-Ha for the 26th year in a row, encourages you to participate to make lots of new friends, for safety in numbers, and for just plain old fun. If you have any doubts about whether being part of a Ha-Ha is a good thing, the Poobah suggests you ask folks who have done one or more.
The detailed Notice of the Rally will be available in April, and registration will open on May 8. More information can be found at www.baja-haha.com. “Oh, and 500 issues? I don’t know what to say!”
SailGP racing on six foiling F50 catamarans is off and running. The event ran three races yesterday afternoon (February 15 in Australia). Three more races are on the schedule for today (3-5 p.m. local time; that works out to tonight from 8 to 10 p.m. PST. For time conversion in your area, click here.)
CBS Sports Network will offer a delayed telecast of the racing at 9-11 p.m. PST tonight. SailGP also offers their own app, available through the iTunes store for free. Using the app or Facebook, you can watch live. We’re not too impressed with the main SailGP website; it looks nice but doesn’t really seem to work or have much content. Go to https://sailgp.com/races/sydney for actual content about this inaugural regatta.
Yesterday, Japan won the first race, Australia the second and third races. Both teams are led by Australian skippers: Nathan Outteridge for Japan and Tom Slingsby for the Aussies. Japan is one point ahead of Australia in the standings. The two sailors traded quips: “It’s out of Nathan’s hands; if we perform we’ll beat him,” said Slingsby. “The Australians are easily beatable,” fired back Outteridge. “They beat us today because we made mistakes.” The particularly young American team, led by Rome Kirby, is in fourth place behind Great Britain.
The next event in the world tour will sail in San Francisco on May 4-5.
RORC Caribbean 600
For another event offering online spectating, check out the RORC Caribbean 600. The 600-mile nonstop circumnavigation of 11 Caribbean islands will begin on Monday at 10:50 a.m. Antigua time (that’s 6:50 a.m. PST), with 80 boats from more than 20 countries taking on the challenge. You can watch live at http://caribbean600.rorc.org/Live/2019-rorc-caribbean-600-race-live.html or on Facebook. Track the fleet here, or play the Virtual Game. If you’re fortunate enough to be in Antigua, you can watch the start from Fort Charlotte or Shirley Heights.