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International Cruisers Converge at Panama

March 8, 2010 – Balboa YC, Panama City, Panama

Panama YC PPJ group
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

They may have originated from vastly different homeports, but they are all headed for the same storied anchorages of French Polynesia. Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that westbound boats of many nations probably pass through the Panama Canal each year. But it wasn't until last Saturday — while hosting the first-ever Pacific Puddle Jump Kickoff Party at Panama's Balboa YC — that we realized just how diverse Pacific-bound fleets can be. Boats from nearly a dozen countries attended our little fiesta, which was co-hosted by the Club, Tahiti Tourism and Latitude 38.

There were Aussies who'd bought boats in Europe and were 'cruising' them home; Europeans from Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain, The Netherlands and elsewhere; plus British Virgin Islanders and South Africans; as well as a whole slew of Americans. With nearly 50 boatloads of cruisers attending, we were left asking ourselves why we hadn't staged such an event sooner.

Nika family
Meet the Nika crew. Why are they so happy? Wouldn't you be if you were about to set out across the South Pacific to Australia? Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Our Tahitian co-host, Stephanie Betz, endured 48 hours of travel in order to meet members of the fleet and share her expertise on cruising the French Polynesian archipelagos. With free drinks and snacks for all, plus raffle prizes that included a black pearl and a hotel night in a top-rated Tahiti hotel, everyone went home smiling — and we made a whole lot of new friends who will hopefully send us photos, destination reports and other topical info to enhance the pages of Latitude 38. Read more about this amazing fleet — which has now grown to around 225 boats — in the April issue.

sarong dance
After showing Leah Prentice of the Vancouver, B.C.-based Reflections (left) how to tie the sarong that she'd just won in the raffle, Stephanie Betz - who is a longtime resident of Tahiti - demonstrated the Polynesian war dance. Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / at

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Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show


SAR Demo at Crew List Party

March 8, 2010 – Golden Gate YC

For many years Latitude 38’s Crew List parties have been matching skippers in need of crew with sailors in need of rides. The process is ongoing, as our online Crew List is constantly updated with new skippers and potential crew in a variety of categories, including daysailing, racing and offshore cruising.

Crew List Party
Our Spring Crew List Party is a great way to meet potential crew or get rides -- and is a heckuva lot of fun! Photo Latitude / LaDonna
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

But there’s nothing quite like meeting people face-to-face to really get a sense of who they are, which is what the Spring Crew List Party is all about. This year’s event will be held at Golden Gate YC this Wednesday from 6-9 p.m., and will feature the usual slideshow, finger foods and full no-host bar. The cost for anyone under 25 is just $5 (with ID) and is still only $7 for the rest of us. It’s the perfect cure to the hump-day blues, and is a great way to start your sailing season off right.

Bear
Some Bear owners need crew for the upcoming WBRA season, and they'll be at the party to find them. Photo Latitude / JR
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

New this year will be a special presentation by the Bear Boat Owners Association. Though Bears — 23-ft woodies built in the early ‘30s — are an endangered species, the racing fleet has been enjoying a resurgence in the last year or two. “We are now in the WBRA schedule,” says Margie Seagal, Bear aficionado and owner of Huck Finn (#17). “Eight boats have indicated interest in racing, which means Bears need crew.” Your best bet for scoring a crew spot is to show up at the party.

Another addition this year will actually happen before the party. Sal Sanchez of Sal’s Inflatables in Alameda, along with Barry Demak, will show participants how to inflate and enter a liferaft . . . from the water! Space is limited for the ‘get wet’ portion of the event, which will be held at GGYC’s docks from 3-5 p.m., so contact Sal at (510) 522-1824 to reserve a space.

SAR Demo
Don't be late or you might miss the return of the Coast Guard helicopter SAR demo. © 2017 USCG / PA1 Kurt Fredrickson

But the apex of the party will be the Coast Guard helicopter rescue demo right off GGYC in the waters of the Bay. Long-time partygoers may recall the days when the Coasties did this every year, but since 9/11 they’ve had other things on their minds. Due to limited daylight, the demo will start promptly at 6:15 p.m., so don’t be late.

- latitude / ld

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Weekend Racing Wrap-up

March 8, 2010 – The Bay and Beyond

Groupama at the Horn
Groupama 3 rounds Cape Horn. Now in the South Atlantic, the 105-ft tri has been slowed by an aggressive high-pressure system. Photo Courtesy Groupama 3
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

While spending the last week or so in Banderas Bay for MEXORC, we got behind on a couple of items we'd normally cover here. First, and probably the most diametrically opposed weather-wise, is the Jules Verne Trophy record attempt of Franck Cammas' 105-ft trimaran Groupama 3 — navigated by the Bay Area's Stan Honey. Skirting a depression in the Southern Ocean west of Cape Horn cost Cammas and his nine-man crew most of the 560-mile lead they'd built against the current record, and now an aggressive high-pressure system off the coast of Argentina has put them 326 miles in arrears. Cammas said that taking the record will be nearly impossible if their deficit at the equator is more than a day, so the next couple days will likely have a huge impact on what's shaping up to be a photo finish.

Spring Keel
'Moore pile-ups' at the St. Francis YC's Spring Keel Regatta. © 2017 Sergei Zavarin / www.ultimate-yachtshots.smugmug.com

We also missed out on the last installment of the Golden Gate YC's Manuel Fagundes Seaweed Soup Series, the Berkeley YC's Midwinters' Champion of Champions events and the St. Francis YC's Spring Keel Regatta. We'll have more on all those in the April issue of Latitude 38, so stay tuned . . .

Calderon
Mexican President Felipe Calderon not only presided over the unveiling of the new Copa México, but also the final race of the day from the R/C boat! Quote of the day? "We can't even get the Mayor at Big Boat Series. . ." Photo Latitude / Rob
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

And finally, the '10 Nextel Regatta Copa México wrapped up Saturday with a Gold Cup course for the fleet followed by the unveiling of the brand new Copa México trophy — with the honors performed by none other than President Felipe Calderón. At the gala dinner later that night, the division awards, as well as the Copa México, were presented to the winners of each division. Class A honors went to Per Peterson's San Diego-based Andrews 68 Alchemy, with Bill Turpin's Santa Cruz-based R/P 77 Akela in second, and co-skippers Mark Jones and Mark Howe's Bay Area-based TP 52 Flash — our ride for the week — in third. The Copa México trophy went to the Mexican entry, B Class winner Farr 40 Flojito y Cooperando — which featured former Californians Matt Cisecki and Mark Sims aboard. The honors in the C Class went to the J/133 Veloce 2, and the D Class honors went to the Peterson 40 Piet Hein. We don't have enough space to wrap up the whole regatta here, but it was a pretty awesome affair in an even better venue, so look to the April issue of Latitude 38 for more.

- latitude / rg

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Yachts Names from 'A' to 'X'

March 8, 2010 – St. Barth, French West Indies

What with Monterey's David Addleman having named his new-to-him Santa Cruz 50 X, and the two anonymous owners — who aren't Russian — of the new Transformer 390 currently in St. Barth having named their boat A, there are only 24 possible single letter names left in the alphabet for the taking. We've never understood why but, by international agreement, no more than one sailboat over 10 meters is allowed to be named with any of the 26 letters of the English alphabet.

A megayacht
A appears to be massive in this photo, compared to one of 'grandpa's mega motoryachts' as seen in the background. But in this case, appearance is reality, as A is 390 feet long and 60 feet wide. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Looking at the photo of A, some of you are probably saying to yourself, "If A is a sailboat, where are her mast(s)?" Well, A is one of the new Transformer series of maxi sailboat designs that are able to switch from maximized powerboat to maximized sailboat and back. The reverse bow — a style that has become oh-so-popular these days — triple flips aft and under to become the keel when sailing. And three 195-ft masts — just short enough to make it beneath the Bridge of Americas in Panama — telescope out of the deck to create a Dyna Rig system as pioneered on Tom Perkins' 289-ft Maltese Falcon. The twist is that the massive yards flop into position transformer-like. It's a miraculous bit of engineering that owes a huge debt to the design of toys. As you might imagine, there have been teething issues, but isn't that true with all boats?

A bow shot
Thanks to today's incredibly efficient systems, A and her 14 guests only require 42 crew. And thanks to her telescoping masts, A only carries 200,000 gallons of fuel, making her a real 'green machine'. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A Transom
The width and steep incline of A's transom make it an ideal waterslide. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / rs

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