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Dekker Completes Circumnavigation

January 23, 2012 – St. Martin

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Laura Dekker, 16, is embraced by her mother, sister and father on her arrival in St. Martin after a 361-day circumnavigation. Photo Courtesy Guppy
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Laura Dekker, 16 years and four months old, arrived at the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Martin on Saturday aboard her 38-ft Jeanneau Gin Fizz Guppy to become the youngest person to complete a solo circumnavigation. Dekker had wanted to start her adventure at age 13, but youth protection authorities in The Netherlands began a 10-month legal battle that delayed the start of her trip and forced her to acquire a larger and better-equipped boat. Still bitter about the government's action, Dekker says she'll perhaps move to New Zealand, where she was born aboard a boat to parents who split up long ago.

Jessica Watson of Australia had previously set the mark for the youngest solo circumnavigator with the S&S 34 Ella's Pink Lady, having gone around just a few months short of her 17th birthday. The Watson and Dekker circumnavigations are apples and oranges. Watson sailed nonstop via the much rougher Southern Ocean, and completed the trip in 210 days. Dekker never did a longer passage than three weeks, stopped frequently, sailed a less arduous course, and took 361 days to finish (518 days, if you count the time it took to make her way from The Netherlands to St. Martin). This is not to denigrate what Dekker has accomplished, but simply to note that Watson faced a much greater challenge. Nevertheless, neither Dekker nor Watson will find their names in the World Speed Sailing Record Council roster or the Guinness Book of World Records. Both record-keeping organizations are declining to maintain age-based records for sailing.

Authorities in The Netherlands were quick to commend Dekker on her bravery, skill and perseverance, but insisted they had been correct to intervene. "If Laura had drowned, we would be accused of not having done enough to protect her," said an official from the Bureau of Youth. She added that it's possible that Dekker made it around because they required her to sail a larger, more robust and better-equipped boat.

Just as we like to think that we can walk and chew gum at the same time, we like to think that we can both salute Dekker's accomplishment, but still object to age-based records based on principle. The history of people reaching personal peaks and gaining fame at a young age has been checkered at best. We wish Miss Dekker every happiness in the world.

- latitude / richard

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

AC34 Meeting Tomorrow

January 23, 2012 – City Hall, San Francisco

If you're at all interested in seeing the 34th America's Cup sailed on San Francisco Bay, AC Outreach Manager Ariel Ungerleider is urging you to attend tomorrow's Board of Supervisors meeting to show support for the event. "We are urging the Board to deny the appeals to the AC34 Environmental Impact Report and allow the project to move forward," Ungerleider said. "They need to hear from our community partners and allies about the critical need for the type of economic impact and job creation that this event will bring to San Francisco and what a positive impact this world-class sporting event will have on our City. They need to hear from America’s Cup fans, sailing enthusiasts and non-sailors too, about what America’s Cup event means for the future of our City. Perhaps most importantly, City Hall needs to hear from neighborhood residents and small business owners that they support the America’s Cup and are looking forward to seeing it succeed."

The meeting is tomorrow, January 24, at 4 p.m. in City Hall Room 250. Please RSVP to Ungerleider if you intend to testify. If you can't make the meeting, you can still send each Supe a letter urging them to deny the appeal of the EIR. If you're a resident of San Francisco — in other words, a constituent — be sure to note that in the letter. Contact them through

- latitude / ladonna

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Ad: El Salvador Rally

January 23, 2012 – Bahia del Sol, El Salvador

© 2018 Bahia del Sol El Salvador Rally /

Expand your horizons! Join a completely different kind of rally where you travel at your own pace to enjoy a springtime rendezvous with other like-minded, adventuresome cruisers. The spectacular rally destination of Bahia del Sol, El Salvador, offers a relaxing atmosphere with a 'cruisers vacation' feel. This is a place where you can safely leave your boat for as long as you wish to enjoy everything El Salvador has to offer. No entry fee — no whining! Third Annual Rally March 10-April 29, 2012.

Two free rally seminars: January 18 at the La Cruz YC in La Cruz, Mexico, and January 28 at the West Marine store in San Diego.

© 2018 Bahia del Sol El Salvador Rally /


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Racing Round-Up

January 23, 2012 – San Francisco Bay and Beyond

Olson 25s Samba and Synchronicity
Samba and Synchronicity are two of the four Olson 25s racing in the Jack Frost. © 2018 Fred Fago /

The storms that marched through San Francisco Bay over the weekend whipped up a big swell, choppy waves, and gusty wind. The rainclouds cleared in time for Saturday's two races in Encinal YC's Jack Frost series over by Treasure Island, and the first day of Corinthian YC's Midwinters, which were held west of Angel Island. Sailors in the Jack Frost reported white spray flying off the tops of the waves and hitting them in the faces, wave after wave after wave. The race committee took pity and kept the courses short. The series continues on February 25. For results so far, see

Express 27 Tule Fog
Steve Carroll and crew on the Express 27 Tule Fog smiled through the white caps at the Corinthian Midwinters. Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The fast boats in the Corinthian race shared tales of hitting boat speeds in the mid-teens on Saturday, with wind instruments showing gusts of up to 32 knots! The racers were drenched with rain on Sunday, but the brisk breeze endured. The strong 5.5-knot ebb couldn't be ignored but, unlike in light air races with strong currents, everyone was able to get around the courses a couple of hours before the deadline of 5:00 p.m. This series concludes February 18-19. See for more.

Sunda, Stink Eye and JR in the Corinthian Midwinters
Seen here with the Seaborn 35 Sunda and the Moore 24 JR, the Laser 28 Stink Eye was clearly overpowered in the heavy gusts despite short sails and a full crew. Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Quantum Key West 2012 wrapped up on Friday, with final awards and the announcement of the Quantum Boat the Week. Congratulations go out to Los Angeles-based John Kilroy and his crew, who sailed for St. Francis YC aboard the Melges 32 Samba Pa Ti. See

We'll have reports on all of these races and more in the February issue of Latitude 38.

It looks like most of the sailboats on the Bay are converging on the Golden Gate YC start line of the Three Bridge Fiaco next Saturday. If yours is not one of the 246 boats already entered, you can still sign up at Then head on over to the skippers meeting at Oakland YC on Wednesday evening. Some past winners, including Gordie Nash, Pat Broderick, and possibly Bill Erkelens, Jr., will tell anecdotes, relate some race history, and give advice. The meeting is also the deadline to register, so if you've been on the fence, it's time to take the plunge.

- latitude / chris

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The Queen's New Tall Ship

January 23, 2012 – Jolly Old England

Until we learned that the construction cost of the recently-grounded Costa Concordia cruise ship was roughly $580 million USD, we thought plans for a new tall ship for the Queen of England were lavish. But by comparison, the 515-ft square-rigger's proposed cost of $93 to $124 million USD seems like a relative bargain.

Queen's new tall ship
The new Royal Yacht is bigger and grander than her predecessor - and she will sail! © 2018 John Lawson/Mail Online

Yeah, we know, this is a little off our usual beat, but hey, it's a sailboat — and a very special one indeed. The reason such a plan is even being discussed in such dire economic times, is that Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne — her Diamond Jubilee — this year.

With the ship's construction funded by private donations, she will serve as a platform for special ceremonies, goodwill tours, trade exhibitions and a hands-on learning vehicle for sail training cadets. The ship will replace the current Royal Yacht Britannia (a 412-ft motoryacht), which traveled more than a million sea miles since her launch in the early 1950s. She was decommissioned in '97, however, and has served as a dock-bound tourist attraction in Edinburgh, Scotland ever since. 

We see no reason why the Queen shouldn't have a royal yacht of this caliber, especially since it will be privately funded, and we can't wait to see her. One unfortunate footnote, however, is that the ship will not be able to visit San Francisco Bay, as her 250-ft masts won't quite fit beneath the Golden Gate's 220-ft-high span.

- latitude / andy

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