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October 25, 2023

Hurricane Otis Lands Near Acapulco as a Force 5 Hurricane

Hurricane Otis surprised forecasters with winds intensifying by 110 miles per hour in the last 24 hours before making landfall near Acapulco at about 1 a.m. local time last night. This brought the storm ashore as a Category 4/5 storm with wind, waves, storm surge and rain all severely impacting the city of about 900,000 (about the size of San Francisco). It is home to the Club de Yates de Acapulco, founded in 1955 and the site of the 1968 Olympic sailing competition, where Lowell North and Peter Barrett won a gold in the Star class. The Club de Yates de Acapulco is a very active sailing center, with a regular challenge regatta with the San Diego Yacht Club in Farr 40s. It is also the home of the Volvo Ocean 65 Viva Mexico that competed in the recent Ocean Race with skipper Erik Brockmann.

The sequence below from Zoom Earth shows the course and rapidly increasing wind speeds from Hurricane Otis just before landfall.

Hurricane Otis
At 10 a.m. on October 24 it was 70 mph tropical storm Otis.
© 2023 Zoom Earth
Hurricane Otis
By 5 p.m. yesterday it had grown to 160 mph Hurricane Otis and was just offshore of Acapulco.
© 2023 Zoom Earth
Hurricane Otis
Hurricane Otis was a 130 mph Category 4 hurricane as the center started to hit the shoreline.
© 2023 Zoom Earth

Reports on X (Twitter) and in news outlets such as the New York Times have reported that the storm’s rapid intensification caught forecasters off guard. When it first started to form on Sunday morning, many did not see it growing significantly or becoming a real threat. The National Hurricane Center stated that “some strengthening” was possible. Words like unprecedented and uncharted territory keep coming up, as forecasters and the world grapple with the impacts of a changing climate on weather models developed from years of analysis based on historical data.

Tomer Burg
The dotted line shows the actual wind increase versus the predicted winds shown by the solid lines below.
© 2023 Courtesy Tomer Berg

Communications are out in Acapulco, so at present there is no ability to understand the impact of the storm. The rapidly growing storm will have had a severe impact on the Club de Yates and all the people of Acapulco.

Club de Yates de Acapulco
Club de Yates de Acapulco from their Facebook page.
© 2023 Club de Yates de Acapulco

Hurricanes of this scale remain rare but, of course, not unheard of. Hurricane Odile, which hit Baja in 2014, was one of the most damaging ever recorded, and Hurricane Manuel, which hit to the north of Acapulco in 2013, is the most expensive recorded on the west coast of Mexico.

Good Jibes #113: Adam Lowry on Racing Psychology

This week’s host, John Arndt, is joined by Adam Lowry to chat about all things racing. Adam is 2023 5O5 world champion and 2019 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.

Adam Lowry sailing
Hear how sailing has informed other areas of Adam’s life.
© 2023 Adam Lowry

Hear about the sports psychology that goes into racing, his experience sailing a catamaran across the Atlantic with his family, how the 5O5 can be fine-tuned before the next Worlds, his sailing roots in Detroit, and what lessons from sailing spill over into his business life.

This episode covers everything from 5O5s to psychology. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:

  • How did Adam win the 5O5 Worlds?
  • Why is the 5O5 the perfect size for him?
  • How do you focus on the things that matter when racing?
  • Why are 5O5s fun to sail?
  • How does Adam prep for 5O5 racing?
  • Are his kids interested in sailing?
  • Has Adam always been competitive?
  • Short Tacks: What’s his favorite racing venue?

Learn more about Adam at

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re feeling the Good Jibes!

Boats and Marinas Awash in Hurricane Norma Aftermath

The sun is back out in La Paz, and the cleanup from Hurricane Norma is underway. Heidi Benson Stagg of the Tayana Vancouver 42 Sonho (featured in our October Sightings) was safe at Marina de La Paz. She and her husband ventured out yesterday and sent us photos from their tour of the harbor. The sunset shot from Monday shows two of the very few boats that managed to ride out the storm under anchor.

Heidi wrote, “The one in the foreground is Caracolita, owned by our friend Henri Fabroyovich. He is a former Alameda resident, Alameda YC member and retired cameraman for one of the Bay Area news channels. He was away when it hit, but his Westsail 32 rode it out. It broke through three-strand bridle and was hanging on by the safety line. My husband re-secured it yesterday. He’ll be back on Thurs. to get a diver to look at it.”

Hurricane Norma Heidi Benson
Sunset in La Paz, two days after Hurricane Norma, with Henri Fabroyovich’s Westsail 32 Caracolita — one of the few boats that rode out the storm at anchor.
© 2023 Heidi Benson

Heidi shared information on her Facebook page, stating, “Today the winds died, the waves [lay] down and we were able to go check on our friends’ boats that survived the hurricane on mooring balls. Sukha, which I crewed on from Cabo to Muertos in 2021, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship with Lucy, and she rode out Norma like a champ. Caracolita belongs to our Alameda YC friend, Henri, and she broke her bridle but was hanging on by her safety line. My skilled hubby deployed her anchor and she should be fine until a diver can check out her mooring. After the devastation and stress of the last few days, seeing our friends’ boats safe was a ray of sunshine! Our new friend Finn took us out on his aluminum skiff and we counted 43 … yes FORTY-THREE … boats that were beached or sunk. This doesn’t include the probably 20 boats that had major damage in Costa Baja and Marina Cortez. Our La Paz cruising community is amazing. So many people banded together to look out for each other. We are grateful and blessed.”

Below is a roundup of the devastation in La Paz. All photo credits go to Heidi Benson Stagg.

Hurricane Norma Heidi Benson
Hurricane Norma certainly left her mark.
© 2023 Heidi Benson

We also heard back from Neil Shroyer of Marina de La Paz. We were hoping to see him this weekend at the Baja Ha-Ha Kick-Off Party in San Diego, but he wrote that despite having a ticket ready to come there’s just too much going on that needs attention in La Paz. He added, “A total of about 60 boats lost, 40 run aground, 15 or more sunk in marinas, and 5 or so sunk in the bay. It’s very sad.

“We have structural damage to our large outer breakwater dock and lost many panels of our fixed breakwater from boats crashing into them and tearing them up. At least it kept the boats away from the marina.”

While there will be a shortage of slips following the storm, there is the Baja Beach party scheduled for Sunday, November 19, following the Baja Ha-Ha. We’ll have to await updates with the hope that it will go forward. It’s very likely the businesses and locals would appreciate visitors to help rebuild the local economy and contribute however they can.

Doing the Jessica Cup Bird Boat Dance

Bay Area sailor Sally Lee Stewart sent us these fun photos that she took during the recent Jessica Cup, hosted by St Francis Yacht Club. The annual regatta is part of the SF Bay Classic Championship Series organized by the Master Mariners Benevolent Association, San Francisco Yacht Club, and St. Francis Yacht Club.

“I was crew on Jim Borger’s Neja,” Sally writes. “Generally never take a camera out during a race but had to for this. A batten was three feet extended out of its sleeve on this Bird Boat.”

All photo credits go to Sally Lee Stewart.