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Sweet Sixteen Ha-Ha Sets Sail

The Port of San Diego, Harbor Police and a variety of local businesses worked together to facilitate the inaugural ‘parade to the start’.

Polaris Supreme
©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

With spirits pumped up by a rousing Costume Kickoff Party yesterday at the San Diego West Marine compound, a record fleet of more than 170 boats set sail late this morning for Cabo San Lucas. This mass exodus of roughly 700 sailors was, of course, the beginning of the annual Baja Ha-Ha Rally to Cabo San Lucas.

Ha-Ha’ers worked it for the cameras on shore. San Diego sailors can catch the procession on the news tonight, as well as read about it tomorrow in the Tribune.

Polaris Supreme
©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A new twist this year was a pre-start procession of the fleet past a viewing station off the western tip of Shelter Island, where San Diego fire boats saluted the fleet’s departure while news crews, well-wishers and both American and Mexican dignitaries observed the spectacle. Showing typical Ha-Ha spunk, some crews wore elaborate Halloween get-ups at the start — this is, after all, a rally rather than a race, with the emphasis on fun.

You can’t help but make new friends on the Ha-Ha. And that process begins at the Kickoff Party.

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©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Risking tendonitis once again, ‘head chef’ Ray chopped up chicken and carne asada for 600 hungry sailors. He and his cohorts from Cabrillo Isle Marina have been Latitude’s party partners for some 15 years.

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©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Well-fed cruisers are happy cruisers. Tammy from Cabrillo Isle and a crew of two dozen servers kept the food line moving.

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©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As in years past, the staffs of West Marine and Almar’s Cabrillo Isle Marina joined Latitude staffers and a boatload of volunteers to put on a memorable kickoff shindig that included a Mexican ‘tune-up’ lunch, cold drinks and a raucous costume contest, which was a blast for both participants and onlookers.

The ever-popular costume contest brought out all sorts of shenanigans.

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©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

And props go to Ken Franke of the Harbor Police and Sharon Cloward of the San Diego Port Tenants Association for coordinating the media, fireboats and a fantastic spread of food for those watching the start from shore.

With West Marine swashbucklers Gaylan and Mick hosting the craziness, dozens of revelers strutted their stuff.

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©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

PHOTO

Although winds were light at the start, conditions are expected to build over the next few days with northwest winds reaching 25-30 knots accompanied by seas of 15 feet or more. For the first time in the event’s history, the Grand Poobah announced this morning that an additional stop has been scheduled on the first leg to help the fleet avoid the worst of the seastate. "We’re encouraging Ha-Ha’ers to stop at either Cabo San Quintin, about 150 miles down Baja, or Punta Baja, about 180 miles down, to sit out the front" says the Poobah. "This is supposed to be fun, after all!" Stay tuned for further updates.

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