The start of the 16th annual Baja Ha-Ha received a surprising — but welcome — amount of local media attention this week, including reports by NBC San Diego and the San Diego News Network, as well as the cover of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The comprehensive U-T report by Matthew Hall included great photos, a video and a list of the rally’s official rules, the most important of which is "There shall be no whining! And no sniveling either!" This rule has been especially pertinent this year, as winds and seas combined to get the rally off to a wild start.
As we noted in Monday’s ‘Lectronic, the Grand Poobah encouraged Ha-Ha’ers to tuck into San Quintin or Punta Baja on their way to Turtle Bay to wait out heavy seas. Assistant Poobah ‘Banjo Andy’ Turpin reported this morning that about half the fleet did just that. "This is an incredible spot," said Turpin. "I bet 1,000 boats could anchor here — and it’s dead calm in these northwest winds." According to Turpin, Ha-Ha’ers were reporting swells to 15 feet and gusts up to 30 knots. "Most of the big stuff was way offshore," he said. "This year has been abnormal in that most of the fleet has stayed close to shore."
At least two ‘rough riders’ said to heck with the weather and have already made it to Turtle Bay: Scott Piper on his J/160 Pipe Dream IX and Rob Macfarlane aboard his Nelson/Marek 45 IOR Tiger Beetle. Both are accomplished singlehanders — Piper has circumnavigated four times and Macfarlane has made five crossings to Hawaii — so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that they viewed 30 knots of wind as good spinnaker-flying weather.
The San Quintin contingent left this morning around 10 a.m. and expect to arrive in Turtle Bay tomorrow morning. From that point on, the rally committee will maintain the published schedule. Stay tuned for further reports.