News of This Weekend’s Corinthian Midwinters
If you can think back to just one year, when times were ‘normal’ (whatever that is), you might remember a big regatta, drawing entries from harbors all over the Bay Area, boats with plenty of hands and rail meat, a cozy raft-up in scenic Tiburon, and parties with sailors rubbing shoulders and bending elbows with their cohort and competitors alike. That regatta would be the Corinthian Midwinters, two two-day weekends. The first was scheduled for this weekend, January 16-17; the second for February 20-21. But this year, the Corinthian Yacht Club has had to alter the first weekend.
“Based on the ‘indefinite’ extension of the statewide stay-at-home order, almost certain to extend through the weekend of January 16, we are taking several actions.”
“1. The races set for January 16 and 17 are postponed. New dates will be announced.
“2. On Saturday, January 16, there will be a Single Household Pursuit Rally. All entrants in our Midwinter Regatta are invited to participate in a 10-mile Bay tour regatta. This is strictly limited to boats crewed by members of a single household (per USCG requirement). Prizes will be awarded at the discretion of the Race Committee and will be as fair and humorous as they can muster in these difficult times.
“The event will start and finish off the CYC main deck.” Registration is open at https://race.cyc.org/hpr. It’s only $25 and will be free for those already signed up for the Midwinters.
Three Bridge Fiasco Going Singlehanded Only
“After discussing and considering the current COVID-19 situation and compliance with the Regional Stay-at-Home Order, the SSS board has decided to change the upcoming Three Bridge Fiasco race to Singlehanded only and will not have a Doublehanded division,” wrote Singlehanded Sailing Society commodore Joe Balderrama on the SSS forum.
“The decision was reached by taking into consideration the risks for the needed additional race committee personnel as well as issues with having boats race with mixed households onboard.” Registration will be limited to 125 entries. More than 50 singlehanders signed up within the first 24 hours. Find race documents on Jibeset. News flash: The SSS reached the maximum number of entries about a day after opening registration. “Pretty amazing response in less than 24 hours,” writes SSS secretary Randy Leasure.
“As we look forward to running our traditional, well-attended Singlehanded and Doublehanded remaining races in 2021, no definitive decision can be made regarding Doublehanded entries in future races. That will be evaluated based on the state of COVID restriction in place at that time.
“Meanwhile, to help prepare you for your first Singlehanded race, reach out to the SSS forum members or check the Resources link for Thoughts, Tips, Techniques and Tactics for Singlehanded Sailing by Andrew Evans.”
One of the racers, who goes either way (singlehanded or doublehanded), commented, “I won’t be racing singlehanded in the Fiasco but will sign up for the season. I urge those who can afford it to support the SSS and YRA by signing up and paying for 2021 even with limited racing.”
Personally, Latitude 38’s racing editor is disappointed to miss sailing in what would have been her 10th consecutive Fiasco, but will go out (safely doublehanding with a member of her own household) and take pictures anyway.
Happy New Year, sailors! Welcome to our first Caption Contest(!) for 2021. We’ve been saving some interesting photos to capture your eyes and your imaginations, and we want to see what you make of this photo . . .
The West Coast was lashed by big swells this weekend, resulting in a number of rescues, including 12 junior sailors at Santa Cruz. According to CBS SF Bay Area the juniors were sailing in the river mouth when “a massive swell” knocked over the sailboats, at around 4:30 p.m.
We spoke with Alex Verdoia of Ullman Sails in Santa Cruz, who happened to be on a friend’s boat in the harbor as the scene unfolded. Alex reported, “We had thought of heading out on a Moore 24 but the wind was too calm, which would make it difficult to be in control getting in and out of the harbor. We did see the Optis head out and then saw the tide was falling quickly, which was causing the break at the harbor to increase. When the row of boats was returning the tide was lower and they hit a bad set of waves, washing all the boats towards the east breakwater. Fortunately, there were surfers nearby who reacted quickly and were able to get to the kids, pulling them out of harm’s way.
“The harbor patrol was nearby and was able to follow up shortly thereafter, helping them all to safety. We then saw the surviving boats being towed back in, though not sure all the boats made it back in one piece.”
CBS SF Bay Area quoted observer Anna Ritter, who had seen the boats capsize and called 911. “Sail school was coming in and the white water just tumbled them and they were just like dominoes flying through the water,” she said. “And five little kids were saved by some great surfers.”
The report also quoted Santa Cruz County Fire Battalion Chief Daniel Kline, who said that due to the high-seas warning officials had already posted, “additional patrols along the waterfront and had two [jet ski] units in the water.” The crews were able to reach the capsized boats quickly, and according to Kline, there were no injuries.
Santa Cruz Harbor is one of the most active sailing harbors on the coast, and most of the time it’s a spectacular place to sail. However, winter swells and shoaling have sometimes closed the harbor completely, and at other times they just make it a more dangerous entry. We’re thankful the surfers and first responders were on hand to prevent the worst.
Leaders of the Pack in the Vendée Globe
More than two months into this ninth edition of the Vendée Globe solo around-the-world race, Yannick Bestaven continues to lead, though only by a bit. On the long ascent of the Atlantic Ocean that caps off this epic race, Bestaven on Maître CoQ IV maintains only the smallest of cushions as the leaders begin to slow down in light air off the Brazilian coast. Just behind Bestaven, Charlie Dalin, Thomas Ruyant, Damien Seguin and Louis Burton have closed up to create a five-way race for first place in the closing stages. In a race dominated by challenging conditions, underdogs and close competition, it’s only fitting that any potential breakaway by the leaders would be quelled by light, fluky winds that further compress the fleet and shuffle the rankings.
The top five boats are separated by just over 100 miles, and the second pack of five boats is beginning to close quickly. We could soon see an unprecedented and highly tactical situation where nearly 10 boats are lining up close to the equator in a virtual restart. Although many fans may resent the fact that pre-race favorites such as Alex Thomson and Jérémie Beyou are no longer in contention, this race will be acclaimed as the most competitive Vendée Globe of all time. We can all now merely stand by as witnesses to the closest race up the Atlantic in ocean racing history.
Troubles for Some Fleet Members
Though Isabelle Joschke had been sailing as high as fifth place just a couple of weeks ago when racing across the Pacific Ocean, her keel ram and boat damage have gone from bad to worse on MACSF. She has unfortunately retired from the Vendée Globe.
Pip Hare has capped off her maiden voyage through the Southern Ocean with some memorable heroics, having just replaced her port-side rudder. She should soon round the Horn in 17th place, a commendable effort in the largest Vendée Globe fleet in history.
“Here’s a short video of Pip Hare changing out a rudder with a cracked shaft and replacing it with a spare,” writes Latitude reader and contributor Pat Broderick. “When this happened she was in the southern Pacific Ocean approaching Cape Horn.”
The top female sailor is now the young Clarisse Cremer on Banque Populaire. While never sailing her legendary boat to its full potential, she has remained smart and consistent and now sits just outside the top 10 in 12th position.
As of this writing, Jérémie Beyou and his yacht Charal have just rounded Cape Horn in 16th place. Having sailed back to Les Sables-d’Olonne and re-started just days after the start of the race, Beyou never fully realized the potential of his revolutionary yacht, the first ‘new generation’ IMOCA 60 to be launched. Despite his position deep in the fleet, Jérémie has managed some mid-race heroics by recording the fastest elapsed time between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn.
Trophée Jules Verne Redux
Elsewhere in the Atlantic, the foiling maxi-trimaran Gitana 17, co-skippered by Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier, is making a second and likely final attempt this season at setting a new outright around-the-world record. Starting just over 40 hours ago as this story is posted, the revolutionary ocean foiler — the first big trimaran of this new breed of fully foiling boats — is currently making more than 34 knots. She’s roughly 100 miles ahead of the reference time set by Francis Joyon and IDEC Sport in January 2017. The team is referring to a “dream window” from France to the South Atlantic. We’re keeping our eyes glued to the tracker to see if Gitana 17 can stay ahead of record pace and make good time into the Southern Ocean.