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May 19, 2021

The Show Goes On at Tahiti Pearl Regatta

Wherever you travel in the realm of sailing you’re apt to notice certain universal themes. Such as: With a sweet breeze and a good-natured crew, you can have as much fun sailing on a decades-old boat with well-worn sails and a few dings in her hull as you can aboard a brand-new boat that’s just been unwrapped.

We were reminded of this truism at the annual Tahiti Pearl Regatta (May 13-18), where a disparate fleet of monohulls, multihulls and traditionally inspired double-outrigger canoes raced between Taha’a and Raiatea in French Polynesia’s Leeward Islands.

Two guys on a Hobie Cat
This vintage Hobie Cat was certainly not the sexiest cat in the fleet, but these guys had great fun putting her through her paces.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

In a normal year, the TPR is the Central South Pacific’s largest and most international sailing contest. It typically attracts dozens of foreign sailors from Europe, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and/or elsewhere to race across turquoise lagoons aboard chartered bareboats, or find crew spots holding down the rails of local racing machines.

Green catamaran
Skippering the unique cat that he designed and built, Nico Gruet fights off two Speed Fleet 18 sportboats at a windward mark.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

But with incoming international flights suspended due to COVID concerns until just a few days ago, there had been talk within the race committee of possibly canceling this year’s event. But luckily for me and all others who attended, the prevailing spirit was that “The show must go on!” And as far as we could tell, a good time was had by all. (For more info see

What the vintage Farr 11.6 Diabolic lacked in bottom paint, she made up for with tight crew work. She won her division with Hervé Bride at the helm.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

Although Tahiti’s borders are still closed to foreign-flagged yachts, many marine industry leaders there seem hopeful that will soon change. So keep the TPR in mind for next season (May 25-28, 2022). Also, the Pacific Puddle Jump rally to French Polynesia is expected to come out of hibernation this summer, with the announcement of its 2022 event.

palm trees
Needless to say, the scenery was stunning.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

Stanford Sailing Program Receives Last-Minute Reprieve

Stanford has announced it will not cut the 11 athletic programs (including sailing) that were targeted in a financial restructure outlined in July 2020. According to the New York Times the last-minute reprieve was announced within a week of the varsity teams’ expected demise, marking an end to the “battle between the university and the supporters of those sports.”

While students and coaches celebrated the news, many still expressed their disappointment at the university’s initial approach. Senior volleyball player Kyler Presho told the New York Times that it was hard to say why the university’s administrators had changed their minds, but that cutting the sports had created “a huge P.R. problem.” He added, “We were relentless in giving them every reason to reconsider and we just didn’t go away. In the end, hey, it worked.”

Stanford sailing
The announcement means we can expect to continue seeing Stanford sailing teams practicing on the South Bay.
© 2021 Stanford Athletics

Stanford had cited the financial effects of COVID-19 as its motivation for cutting the 11 varsity sports, projecting a saving of $8 million for the athletics department. However many students were skeptical of this reasoning and did not believe the decision was based on finances. Rather than accepting the decision, in the months following the announcement current students, their parents, and college alumni actively fought to keep their faculties going.

Former Stanford volleyball player Jeremy Jacobs was instrumental in the funding push and led a “36 Sports Strong advocacy group” to support the 11 targeted programs, with the Times reporting Jacobs as saying the men’s volleyball program had secured pledges of over $7.7 million. And in March this year, students marched outside the school in protest of the planned cuts.

When Stanford announced its decision to keep funding the 11 sports on Tuesday, Jacobs broke the news to the volleyball team via videoconference. “‘We’re back,’ he told them. Players began to cheer and he began to cry.” He added, “‘This past year was a nightmare and we’re going to make sure this never happens again.’”

You can read the full report here.

Baja Ha-Ha XXVII Second Stop — Bahia Santa Maria

In case you’re still on the fence about whether to join the 27th Baja Ha-Ha, here’s another update from the Baja Poobah.

Bahia Santa Maria, the second stop of the Baja Ha-Ha, is usually the fleet favorite. It lies about 175 miles north of Cabo — where the ocean, desert, mangroves, hills and sand dunes meet in spectacular fashion. And except for a few small fishing shacks, it’s uninhabited.

Bahia Santa Maria
It may look dry and barren, but the landscape and the waters in this part of the world are spectacular.
© 2021

For those looking to stretch their legs and get their adrenaline pumping, there is hill climbing, beachcombing, boogie boarding, surfing, and … for one afternoon a year, it becomes the surreal site of the Ha-Ha rock ’n’ roll dance party.

The live band travels eight hours each way, via hundreds of miles of dusty roads and two crazy ferries across Baja’s longest inland waterway, to play for tips. The fishermen’s wives prepare lunch, and Victor makes sure there is plenty of ice-cold beer. It’s as surreal as anything Dali created. Ask anyone who has been there for one.

Baja Ha-Ha
You could always ask Marina and Myron; they’re sure to have a few stories to share.
© 2021

Sign-ups for Baja Ha-Ha XXVII, which leaves San Diego on November 1, opened at noon on Thursday, May 6. If you’re not one of the scores of people who have already registered, there are a couple of good reasons to get online and put your name on the list now. 1. You’ll be higher on the list for a berth in Cabo San Lucas. 2. You’ll have six months to get excited and let all your friends know that you’ll be spending the cold. foggy Northern California winter months in the sunny, warm climes of Mexico. 3. You’ll be signing up for a boatload of fun!
Go here for the Notice of Rally, and to sign up click here.

Do the Ha-Ha, as 10,000 others have done before you, and be part of Baja legend.

‘Mine’s Bigger’ — Part II, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Ups the Ante

David Kaplan’s 2007 book, Mine’s Bigger: Tom Perkins and the Making of the Greatest Sailing Machine Ever Built, is described as “the biography of a remarkable boat and the man who built it. More than a tale of technology, Mine’s Bigger is a profile of ambition, hubris, and the imagination of a legendary entrepreneur.” Did we think it would all stop there?

It should come as no surprise that the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, has decided to take up ‘sailing’ — in a very big way. According to the usual sailing sources, Bloomberg News, Business Insider, Forbes and others, Bezos is spending 0.25% of his net worth on a 417-ft, $500 million three-masted boat being built by Oceanco in the Netherlands. Most of the details somehow remain under wraps, but (we understand) because of the sailing rig, there is no helicopter landing pad, so a smaller megayacht is being built to accompany the vessel as it tours his current planet, Earth. As a carbon offset, we’ve heard he bought the country of Brazil and is replanting the entire Amazon rainforest.

Maltese Falcon
Without any official drawings or images available, the media are forced to give comparative photos, such as the subject of Mine’s Bigger, the 289-ft Maltese Falcon (129 feet shorter than the Bezos boat) squeaking in under the Golden Gate Bridge.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Annie

We know the sailing market has been booming from top to bottom, but according to Bloomberg, the megayacht market is exceptionally strong, with more than 50 megayachts of over 100 meters currently under construction. A common explanation for the boom is the pandemic’s increase in desire for social isolation aboard boats, which often carry a crew of up to 40 with room for 30 or more guests. The market is so strong it’s hard to find a builder with room in their schedule to take a new order. They will all need a lot of big fenders for their barbecue raft-ups as they ‘get away from it all’ in the quaint industrial harbors that can accommodate their scale. At 417-ft, Bezos’s boat is big, but still not as big as Roman Abramovich’s 468-ft sailing megayacht A.

According to reports, the world might get a glimpse of Bezos’s boat as it’s moved to a new shipyard in the next month for completion. We don’t know when it will be ready for prime time, but we’re sure that as soon as it’s launched, it will be a popular destination for the world’s drone pilots. We’ll then have fun photos of Jeff, Lauren and their celebrity guests as they emerge from the multi-decked behemoth to go out for a daysail.

Captain's Hat's
A gift suggestion for Mr. Bezos: 0nly $11.99 on Amazon.
© 2021 Amazon

Since the name remains unknown, we’ll look for suggestions in the comments section below.

Can You Hear Ringing from Below?
We're sure most of the barges filled with dredging spoils from the various marinas around the Bay must be half filled with cell phones (and sunglasses).
Old Boat Making Good Time
I was making a decision to purchase an almost-30-year-old boat pretty much sight unseen. What could possibly go wrong?