July 1, 2011

The July Latitude is Ready for the Weekend

Wherever you plan to celebrate our country’s Independence Day, be sure you grab a copy of the July Latitude 38 before you head off. The magazine’s being delivered to all the normal places today and, as usual, is completely and totally free. If you’re in an outlying area, across the country or even in Zimbabwe, you’ll be able to download the entire issue from our website a little later this afternoon — again, totally for free!

And this isn’t an issue you’ll want to miss. In it you’ll find the recap of the famous and eye-popping Master Mariners Race, the latest in the Wanderer’s ‘Zen Sailing Chronicles’, stories of Bay Area folks who are making a difference in other people’s lives through sailing, an honest-to-goodness fairy tale (spoiler alert: the sailor gets the girl!), and just how much it really costs to go cruising. Of course there’s so much more — did anyone notice some pretty special catamarans streaking around the Bay last month? — but find out for yourself by picking up your copy before the fireworks start.

In celebration of our nation’s birthday, Latitude‘s World Headquarters will be closed on Monday, which means ‘Lectronic Latitude is also taking the day off. See you back here on Wednesday!

The Anti-Pirate Potato Cannon

The big fireworks shows don’t start until Monday so what are you going to do with the kids all weekend? It’d be a shame if they played video games and Facebooked the whole time when the weather forecast is calling for the mid-80s over the next several days. Instead, try creating an underwater viewer from an old bucket or two-liter soda bottle, signaling shore with a CD, warding off scurvy dogs with an anti-pirate potato cannon, or even building a boat.

Seafarers of all ages can find fun and useful tips, tricks and projects in this book. The Latitude crew all wanted a peek.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

All of these projects, along with 95 others, can be found in David Seidman and Jeff Hemmel’s book The Anti-Pirate Potato Cannon & 101 Other Things for Young Mariners to Build, Try & Do on the Water. We don’t review very many books, but we think this is a great book for seafarers — and wannabe seafarers — of all ages. You can learn to navigate like ancient mariners, how to tie a monkey’s fist and heaving line, the best way to ride out a hurricane, and how to read clouds (not that you’ll have much practice this weekend). You can find the book at online retailers but it won’t arrive till next week so try calling your local brick-and-mortar stores if you’d like to have a little seafaring family fun this weekend.

TransPac Starts Monday

The Diamond Head Lighthouse and buoy have served as the finish line for the TransPac since 1906.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The 46th TransPac gets underway on Monday, when Division 6, the Aloha Division, and the race’s lone multihull entry set sail from Long Beach’s Rainbow Harbor. After starting off Pt. Fermin, they’ll work at clawing their way off the coast and down the 2,225-mile course. On July 8 the rest of the fleet will do likewise. The highly irregular weather we’ve had is making for a less-than-clear routing picture, and at this point the ’11 race could just as easily be along the lines of the drift fest of ’79 as it could be the record-breaking slide of ’97. But some of the crews we’ve polled are projecting paces somewhere in between. The forecast for the first 100 miles or so for Monday’s starters looks promising, and making a clean break from the California coast is propitious for a good race. At this point it’s too early to say how Friday’s starters will fare, but the new two start-day format means that among boats close in speed potential, the weather lottery will already have been decided — winning one’s day will carry a lot more weight.

While not huge, this year’s fleet is high-quality, with some tightly-grouped divisions of quick boats. The Aloha Division — for the cruisier boats — has a big rating spread with everything from a pair of Catalina 38s to a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 52. Division 6 also has a significant range, and the Bay’s Alex and Vivian Farell and their 1D35 Alpha Puppy are right smack in the middle of it. With an experienced crew including Brian Caldwell, Sean Doyle, Ronnie Simpson and Sherry Smith, the Farells figure to be in the hunt.

Relentless and Samba Pa Ti put together a photo finish two years ago after starting six days apart. Will the new format of two start days four days apart produce a similar result?

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Six SC 50s in varying trims will be duking it out for the honors in Division 5, with Jack Taylor’s Dana Point-based Horizon the favorite on just about anyone but their competition’s scratch sheet. Division 4 is kind of a hodgepodge of boat types, with everything from a pair of J/125s — one is Andy Costello’s Pt. Richmond-based Double Trouble — to a pair of SC 52s and a DK 46. Costello is our pick to win the division, in part because the J/125 is one of the better TransPac boats ever, and in large part because he’s tapped Trevor Baylis to be his navigator and rounded up a solid crew of Pat Whitmarsh, Mark Breen and Gilles Combrisson.

Division 3 is the ‘Sled’ grouping with seven ULDB 70s in various trims vying for the honors. This is a tight one to call, with some really strong efforts present, so we’re going to punt and say it will be a close battle between Philippe Kahn’s Santa Cruz-based Andrews 68 Pegasus MotionX, Per Peterson’s Andrews 68 Alchemy, Brack Duker’s SC 70 Holua with Piedmont’s Bill Erkelens aboard, and James McDowell’s SC 70 Grand Illusion with Pt. Richmond’s Will Paxton aboard.

Chip Megeath’s Tibruon-based R/P 45 Criminal Mischief has a target on her transom this year.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Division 2 is a group of ultra-modern race boats and will most likely be a hard-fought win. This is another extremely difficult division to call. Marin’s Skip McCormack will be sailing aboard Jorge Ripstein’s strong Acapulco-based R/P TP 52 Patches. Ricardo Brockman’s R/P 52 Vincitore has always been a strong boat downwind. But for our money, this one will come down to a battle between Chip Megeath’s Tiburon-based R/P 45 Criminal Mischief, and Laura Schlessinger’s Santa Barbara-based Kernan 47 Katana. The Criminals have been running game on just about anyone for the last 3.5 years, and rumor has it that Schlessinger comissioned her new boat with the express intent of beating them. She has a rockstar crew in navigator Eric Bohman, Kevin Miller, Kit Will, Paul Wolthausen, Dave Young and Sam Solhaug, but unless someone got left off the crew list, we have to think it’s going to be a challenge to sail the boat — with its TP 52-sized rig — with only seven people aboard. One thing’s for sure, Schlessinger is going to have to put in some time on the pumps! The Criminals are back with their usual complement of some of Northern California’s best including navigator Jeff Thorpe, Watch Captains Robin Jeffers and Campbell Rivers, Jay Crum, Andy McCormick, Morgan Gutenkunst, and Dan Malpas. A Criminal tradition has been to bring in a young and motivated first-time Hawaii racer on these races and this year it’s Santa Cruz’s Mike Radziejowski.

Ahh . . . . Waikiki. here we come!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In the really big boats, Richard Clarke’s powered-up, but sticky Open 60 O Canada is the scratch boat, but unless it really nukes, it probably won’t be in the hunt for elapsed time honors. The winner of the Barn Door — now dedicated to conventionally-ballasted boats with manual sail handling systems — will probably also be the outright elapsed-time winner, and right now it’s down to the New York YC’s Hap Fauth and his R/P 74 Bella Mente and Southern California’s Doug Baker and his well-traveled Andrews 80 Magnitude 80, which has been converted to a fixed keel.


The division assignments for the 53 boats are already on the race’s website as is the tracker, which will be subject to a very long six-hour delay this year to promote strategy over tactics for the navigators. The Bay’s own Kimball Livingston is being way underpaid to produce some awesome stories about the race that you’ll find on the website, and we can only imagine that he’ll be running at full chat until well after the race is over.

The parties, and his desire not to miss a single one, are of course the reason that current TransPacific YC Commodore Bill Lee designed the record-breaking Merlin for the ’77 race. So maybe it’s no coincidence that there’s an additional party this year! In addition to the normal slate of fesitivities that include the supremely popular Mount Gay Party, the host committee has instituted a new one in between rehabbing the TransPac Shack behind the Hawaii YC and otherwise getting ready for the arrival of the fleet. The Aloha After Party will kick off on July 22, immediately following the Awards Ceremony at the Waikiki Shell. The Waikiki YC is inviting all the participants, family, friends and volunteers to celebrate the race. There will be food stations with Korean, Chinese, Thai and Hawaiian Style eats, a band for dancing and, of course, liquid refreshments plus a fireworks show. And speaking of fireworks, you don’t need to wait until July 22! The Aloha send-off party at Gladstone’s Restaurant in Rainbow Harbor coincides with the city’s Independence Day celebration.

While local drummers hail his arrival, Kristor Bowman of the San Francisco-based CS 36 Britannia crosses the finish line at the entrance to Opunohu Bay with the aid of his ‘borrowed’ adolescent crewman Harrison Mitgang off the F/P 48 catamaran Watcha Gonna Do.
While the boats in this year’s TransPac are clawing away from the California Coast, the Pacific Cup YC will be hosting the first installment of its biennial seminar schedule — the "Pacific Offshore Academy" — with a revamped, more user-friendly format.