Flight of the Lasers Coming, Transpac Under Way

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Looking to add an 88-foot yacht to your fleet this summer?  Well, the sale price for Bernie Madoff’s former custom yacht has been slashed in half from $8.6 million to $4.3 million, and there are still no potential buyers.  The Bull was seized three years ago, and now the yacht waits in Monaco harbor for a buyer.  However, the rumors are that no one wants to be associated with Madoff, who is sitting in jail, and the price tag may have to be reduced a couple of million dollars more to spur any interest.   I will be glad to deliver the Bull from Monaco to Newport Harbor if anyone here jumps at this fire sail, I mean “sale.”

As a reminder: the 76th Annual Newport Beach Flight of the Lasers is approaching fast on the radar.  Sailors need to sign-up now for Sunday July 24 (with a 1 p.m. start time), and there is no entry fee for this great event.  Brett Hemphill, owner of Hemphill Rugs and Carpets on 17th Street, has offered to find a Laser for me to sail in the race this year.  If I am not sailing in a race on Lake Arrowhead then Brett start your hunt, but I don’t want one with barnacles on the hull.

Originally known as the Flight of the Snowbirds, then in the early ’70s as the Flight of the Kites, and now the Flight of the Lasers, this sailing event is chaired by Seymour Beek, owner of the Balboa Island Ferry \and Island Marine Fuel.  Seymour and his committee organize this event annually as an event of the Newport Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce’s Commodore’s Club, of which I am a proud member.  A major sponsor is the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, which provides the Jim Webster committee boat, plus the venue for the awards ceremony.

The starting line is off Balboa Island’s shore just east of the Pavilion, where the racers will head west up the channel to the large turning basin to round course marker 1 by the anchorage.  Passing to port the racers will turn heading for marker U off the Lido Isle Yacht Club and then begin the long sail to marker Z in the small turning basin by Lido Village.  I wonder if any sailors have contemplated sailing under the Lido Isle Bridge versus going around Lido’s east tip to get to the Z mark?  If the normal prevailing winds are blowing then the racers will begin an easterly 2.4 nautical mile reach to marker 4 between channel marker 8 and the Harbormaster’s office, where once rounded they will complete the final leg to the finish line where it all started.

Good luck to all.

Tip of week is while we are on the subject of sailing, the Transpac Race is under way crossing 2,225 nautical miles of the ocean as the crow flies from the start line off of Point Fermin to a finish off of Diamond Head.  The race organizers have two separate start dates with the goal of all the boats finishing closer together then weeks apart.  As such, division 6, Aloha division 7, and one boat in the multihull fleet crossed the starting line on July 4, and the faster boats in division 1 through 5 will start today.

One major challenge of the race is deciding what latitude to sail, as the skippers will not sail a direct course to Hawaii.  The reason no one sails a straight course from the mainland is that they do not want to get caught without wind in the middle of the Pacific High.  The Pacific High is an area, usually halfway between the mainland and Hawaii, that is the center of a high pressure zone where the winds are light or nonexistent.  So, sailors will change latitude to pick up the winds circling south of the high-pressure zone.  Just how far south is the tacticians’ challenge, because one does not want to overly increase the total distance travelled.

Some of you may not remember the direction of latitude lines versus longitude lines on a chart, so here is what I teach my boating students.  Latitude sounds like “ladder” and you climb the rungs of a ladder, thus you would climb latitude.  Hence, latitude lines are circling the globe horizontally, and therefore, longitudinal lines go from pole to pole.  Oh, pole to pole is the North Pole to the South Pole or the South Pole to the North Pole for you land lubbers.  Now, you know and you can impress your friends at the next cocktail party.

And don’t forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead’s Boathouse Radio Show, broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network every Saturday at noon, Pacific Time and replayed on Sunday at 10 am Pacific.  Join Chandler Bell and me as we talk about “all things boating.”  You can find the station listings, cable TV channels, live streaming on the Internet, and now available are apps to listen to the show for your iPhone, Blackberry, iTouch, Android, Palm, and Windows Mobile at www.BoathouseTV.com or www.BoathouseRadio.com.

Until next week, Safe Voyages!

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