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More News from a Busy Weekend

Last weekend was a busy one in the sailing world. On Monday, we ran short summaries of the latest news news from the Vendée Globe and Louis Vuitton Pacific Series. Today we have quick reviews of the Leg Five start of the Volvo Ocean Race, the Puerto Vallarta Race and the latest Melges 24 win for Dave Ullman.

A grounding and crack in the keel joint delayed Telefonica Blue’s start in Leg Five of the Volvo.

© 2009 Telefonica Blue / Volvo Ocean Race

Volvo Ocean Race — On Friday the 13th, five of the eight boats in the Volvo Ocean Race started Leg Five from Qingdao, China, to Rio. At 12,300 miles, this is the longest leg of any iteration of this race, going all the way back to its first running as the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973. Puma led the fleet away from the starting line, but the real drama of this start took place way behind the lead boats. Telefónica Blue, winner of Legs Three and Four and second in overall points to leader Ericsson 4, went aground just minutes before the start. Skipper Bouwe Bekking suspended racing and returned to the dock. The boat was hauled out and inspection showed a chip out of the strut-keel joint. Choosing to be safe rather than sorry, Bekking elected to have the bulb removed for further inspection and repairs. Nineteen hours later, with a clean bill of health, they rejoined the race.

While the repair was in progress, and five hours after the start, Magnus Olsson’s Ericsson 3 arrived to finish an eventful Leg Four. Several days after the Leg Three start in Singapore, they experienced flooding forward and discovered delamination in the forward part of the boat. They stopped racing and pulled into Taiwan where the boat underwent a hurried but thorough repair. Said Magnus, “I think I’ve done 40 legs in the Whitbread or Volvo and I’ve never abandoned a leg. But this definitely feels like the best finish I’ve ever made.” He and the crew said quick hellos, then loaded up the boat with new gear, food, three new crew — and took off again. Total in-port time: about two hours.

Three boats did not start Leg Five. Delta Lloyd (ex-’05-06 winner ABN Amro One) and Telefonica Black both sustained damage that could not be repaired in time for the Leg Five start. They will be flown to Rio, repaired, and rejoin the race there. Team Russia got to Singapore and just ran out of money. They are bravely trying to scrape together enough to get the boat to Rio, but it’s unclear if this team will be able to continue the race.

The Beck 60 Dare was first to finish at PV this year. The sails in the background belong to the beautiful 1930 schooner Rose of Sharon, which also did the race. Rose won Leg Four, corrected out second overall and gave the newer boats a real run for the money all the way to the finish.

© 2009 Rich Roberts

2009 Puerto Vallarta Race presented by Corum Swiss Timepieces — Fourteen boats took part in this four-leg run down the Baja and Mexican coasts. Sponsored by Del Rey Yacht Club, the 20th edition of this biennial race was markedly different from days past — instead of being nonstop, the 1,034-mile race was divided up into four legs. Just like another event near and dear to our hearts, the fleet stopped in Turtle Bay, Mag Bay and Cabo, with the finish of course at PV. The start was off Marina del Rey on January 31, with the first boat to finish being Bob Kettenhoffen’s 60-ft Dare just before midnight last Thursday. First place trophies in the four divisions — given out at the Awards ceremony Saturday night — went to: Spinnaker A — Carmagnole, Beneteau 45, Dan Howard, DRYC; Spinnaker B — Barking Spider, Catalina 36, David Kory, SBYRC; Non-Spinnaker A — Defiance, Swan 56, Peter Noonan, StFYC; and Non-Spinnaker B — G-Rated, Catalina 42-2, Sid Lampert, DRYC.

Another first for this race — perhaps for any race — was that the support boat . . . wasn’t a boat! When the planned escort powerboat had to cancel at the last minute, three guys jumped in Marty Fiegel’s ‘Winnebago 36’ and headed south on the ultimate road trip. They managed to meet and greet the fleet upon arrival at each of the four stops, including remote Bahia Santa Maria (where the fleet anchored north of Mag Bay)! Go here for more on the race, including complete results.

2009 St. Petersburg NOOD RegattaA pair of Californians put up some really good scores in the 45-boat Melges 24 class at the St. Petersburg NOOD last weekend. Newport Beach sailmaker Dave Ullman posted a bullet and three deuces to go with a third and a fifth to take the regatta by 12 points. Marina del Rey’s Alan Field finished the regatta with a 6-1-5 to lock up third. Pre-race favorite and 2008 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Terry Hutchinson came into the regatta on a hot streak but could only muster a sixth after starting the regatta with a pair of 15s. Full results are here.


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