Big El Norte A Comin’ To Baja – February 1, 2011
All the forecasters are calling for a major Norte developing in the Sea of Cortez this week. Thursday’s forecast is for winds to 31 knots and seas 3-4 meters, which should satisfy sailors after last weeks’ cloudy skies and light winds. The sub-tropical jet stream served up 3 days of overcast skies and 4 drops of rain, so we’re all hoping that this doesn’t interfere with the coming Norte, which should start this afternoon and last through the weekend.
Following up on my last report about the La Ventana Classic event, the turnout was great and the wind cooperated enough to get all the events in. The event raised more than $22,000 for the local schools and is an outstanding example of how wind sports contribute in a positive way to the local economy and community here in Baja. Tim Hatler, along with his family and staff at Palapas Ventana, work tirelessly all year to help make this event and area a great place to visit or call home.
The beach at Baja Joe’s is the center of activity for the La Ventana Classic.
Once again the highly anticipated 11 mile cross channel race combined challenged windsurfers and kiters to see who would be first to finish the crossing from Cerralvo Island to Baja Joe’s. Last year the kiters dominated in the light wind conditions that required windsurfers to pump for several miles in the center of the course. But this year the course was filled from shore to shore with 25+ knot wind and big swells in the middle of the channel. The finish line announcer was hyping the mostly kiting crowd that the kiters would take it again this year since the world record speed kiter was in the race. Evidently the announcer hadn’t attended the races in Los Barriles the previous week where windsurfer Kevin Pritchard had dominated the combined long distance windsurfer/kiter race.
Windsurfers finish 1-2-3…where are the kiters?
Over 125 racers started the race just before 1pm and in just over 20 minutes; three windsurfers lead the field to the finish line at Joe’s. Kevin Pritchard wasn’t able to make it La Ventana, but Brian Metlaf-Perez, Tyson Poor, and Macrae Wylde carried the torch for the windsurfers crossing the line 1-2-3. Tyson lead around the final mark and with only 50 yards to the finish his outhaul let go launching him over the front of his board. Brian slipped by for the win before Tyson recovered to take 2nd. The rivalry continues with kiters expressing “wait till next year”… we look forward to it.
The Baja Test Crew continues to put the new Panther 3 to the test here in La Ventana. Stuart from Ontario Canada is a veteran sailor who spends the winter riding the waves and swells. Here are his remarks after an afternoon session on the 2011 Panther. “Thanks for the opportunity to test your new Panther III. The sail did everything it was designed to do. Upwind, downwind, easy to depower in a transition, very snappy out of a jibe and a balanced feel .However, the main beauty in this sail is the workmanship, quality of materials and most importantly the way it is put together How can you go wrong with David Ezzy designing, Graham testing and a tech rep and ambassador like yourself.”
Thanks Stuart, your input is appreciated and is an important part of the designing and testing David does on every sail he builds. If you’re in Baja, we would love to have you tell us what you think. See ya on the beach, Gary