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Cape Breton Island Makes the Bay

Cape Breton Island gets a fireboat welcome as they sail into the Bay yesterday morning.

© Erik Simonson

Cape Breton Island, the first of nine boats in the ’09-’10 Clipper ‘Round The World Race, sailed through the Gate yesterday morning after 28.5 days of sailing across a storm-lashed North Pacific. The Cape Breton Island sailors have put on a show against the other eight teams — the next boat due to finish at the Farallones probably won’t get there until Friday evening! In fact, the crew was moving the boat along so well that they received plaintive emails from race organizer Clipper Ventures asking that they slow down. After that much time at sea, we can’t blame the Cape Breton Island sailors for just wanting to git ‘er done.

Cape Breton Island crew member Adrian Healy mows-down a rewarding piece of pizza.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

There weren’t many people out yesterday to welcome them to San Francisco, in part because CBI beat the race office personnel — scheduled to set up shop at the Golden Gate YC today — to the Bay. While they may have beaten the organizers by a day, they only beat the pizza man by a few minutes; not long after they were tied up in the San Francisco Marina, the 17-person crew was devouring the contents of the stack of pizza boxes they’d ordered on finishing.

Due to losing their instruments in a lightning strike one week out of Qingdao, the crew didn’t know exactly how much breeze they saw during the behemoth of a leg, but estimated it was in the range of 70-80 knots, and it’s likely that some of the other boats farther behind got it worse.

"We probably got off lightly compared to some of the other boats," said round-the-worlder Katharine Simpson. "All the legs have been very different, and we knew this one would be cold and wet going into it."

Katharine Simpson and Elaine Walker finally get to relax after a brutal leg across the North Pacific in March.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Crewmember Adrian Healy said that the boat saw the worst of the weather just past the international dateline. "It was big and challenging," Healy said. "And it never really relented until about three days out of San Francisco. We feel for everyone who’s still out there."

Qingdao, the next boat due in, will likely arrive sometime Friday afternoon or evening, with Jamaica Lightning Bolt a little less than a day behind them and carrying an award of 32 hours of redress for assisting the stricken California, which lost its mast a week ago. Keep an eye on the race viewer for updates on arrival times for the boats, and if you can swing it, head on down to the San Francisco Marina, next to the Golden Gate YC, to welcome them in!

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Be sure to hide an extra large supply of Easter eggs this weekend to give you some free time to make it through the April issue of Latitude 38, which hits Bay Area stands tomorrow.