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The Rogue Hump-Nighters

March 23, 2012 – San Francisco Bay

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

After an evening of sailing, the Rogue Hump-Nighters rafted up just outside of Clipper Cove at Treasure Island. © 2018 Rod Witel

"On Wednesday evenings between April and October, my sailing club, Club Nautique, organizes evening group sails followed by a delicious outdoor BBQ for members and their guests," writes instructor Rod Witel. "We simply call this event 'Hump Night', and we alternate weekly between our Alameda and Sausalito locations. They provide a great way for members to stay connected, meet new members, and introduce guests to sailing and the wonders of San Francisco Bay.

"When the 2011 Hump Night season closed, I — along with a group of fellow sail-aholics — vowed to continue this tradition (sans BBQ) throughout the winter. We're affectionately called the 'Rogue Hump Nighters' (I’ve also heard us referred to as the 'Rogue Humpers', although I’m not quite sure why). "While other sailors might deem winter sailing on the Bay too cold, too dark, too dangerous or too uneventful, we've enjoyed a drier than usual winter, crimson sunsets, stunning full moons rising over the East Bay hills, and having the Bay practically to ourselves.

Rod Witel (center) went rogue after the summer Hump Night events ended, recruiting members and guests for some light winter sailing. Photo Latitude / Penny
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Each week more and more sailors climb aboard and join the festivities as word of our adventures spreads. This Wednesday's Rogue Hump Night culminated in a three-boat potluck raft-up just outside of Clipper Cove with 21 attendees — including Latitude 38's delightful bookkeeper Penny Clayton!

Latitude's bookkeeper Penny Clayton just graduated from Club Nautique's basic keelboat course at the top of her class! © 2018 Rod Witel

"So my advice to those sailors who stow their PFDs away with their Halloween decorations is that life is short, so why not pack as much sailing into it as you can?"

We can't agree more with Rod. Though we've had a rough patch for the last couple weeks, winter normally provides terrific opportunities (in between storm systems) to shake the mildew out of your sails and enjoy some mellow sailing action. Oh sure, you'll undoubtedly need to bundle up, but no more so than summer sailing . . . sometimes even less so!

Winter sailing on San Francisco Bay can yield wonderful memories and spectacular photo ops. Don't miss it! Photo Latitude / Penny
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you're interested in learning more about sailing schools and clubs, the April issue of Latitude will feature a Sightings piece about Penny's recent experiences in learning to sail through Club Nautique, as well as a comprehensive list of sailing school rental boats in World of Chartering.

- latitude / ladonna

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California Racing Round-Up

March 23, 2012 – Long Beach and San Francisco Bay

Last weekend's Butler Cup, the third regatta in the California Dreamin' match race series, got blown out. With a severe storm watch in effect and high winds, host Long Beach YC was not able to run any races. Boats stayed in their slips on Saturday, and though everyone headed out to the race course on Sunday, the winds were even stronger than the day before, with gusts over 30 knots. The Catalina 37s used in the Butler Cup were designed for normal, moderate Long Beach conditions, without reefing mainsails. All of which left the series leader, Nicole Breault of St. Francis YC, with the series win and a place in this week's Ficker Cup, a qualifier for the Congressional Cup.

Nicole Breault
Nicole Breault accepts LBYC Vice Commodore Dick Miller's invitation to the Ficker Cup. © 2018 Rick Roberts /

"My expectations for how well I will do came up a bit this weekend," said Nicole. "What time we had in the boats was valuable, and I will have Bill Durant of LBYC calling tactics, a tremendous advantage for us." Other California skippers competing in the event include Bill's son, Dustin Durant, of LBYC, Nevin Snow of SDYC, and Nicholas Dugdale of SFYC. The Ficker Cup started yesterday and continues through Sunday. See for more.

The storm system which hammered SoCal made last weekend's racing on San Francisco Bay iffy as well. "The Rites of Spring for double and singlehanders was full of surprises," reports George Gurrola of Oakland YC. "In fact, it almost didn’t happen. The weather the preceding week was horrible and the prediction for March 17 promised more of the same plus thunder and hail. The Rites race is supposed to be a fun race for the beginners as well as SSS veterans, and this just didn’t fit." When Friday's forecast promised a break in the storm as a high passed over the Bay, the race committee decided to go ahead, and 50 boats showed up.

"The winds were a little weird," said Gurrola. "The start off the Berkeley Pier began with beautiful 8- to 10-knot Estuary-like northerlies. Then, as the boats set out for weather marks at either Southampton or Buoy 6 in the Southampton channel, the weather began to change. At first, it got so light that some boats anchored. Then a big northwesterly banged in, turning a light-wind beat into a heavy-wind spinnaker run. Needless to say, the downwind leg became an upwind sail." For results of the Rites of Spring, see

Columbia 5.5 Meters
Columbia 5.5s Wings (with spinnaker) and Bagheera at the Clipper Cove finish line of OYC's Rites of Spring. © 2018 SlackwaterSF / BAMA

The events that will have to contend with another strong storm system in the Bay Area tomorrow include Island YC's Doublehanded Lightship (at least the ocean swell has flattened out), the NorCal High School Championship hosted by St. Francis YC, and Encinal YC's final Jack Frost races.

- latitude / chris

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Round the World Racing Round-Up

March 23, 2012 – Pacific and Southern Oceans

Midway for Clipper Fleet

This week, the 10-boat Clipper Round the World Race fleet sailed backward in time one day and from winter into spring. As the sun passed north of the equator, the boats passed the International Dateline and into the Western Hemisphere. On Tuesday, Gold Coast Australia skipper Richard Hewson noted, “Today is actually yesterday. We passed a major milestone as we sailed across the Date Line, 180 degrees east and west. As we pass this meridian, today becomes yesterday, and it’s about as close as most of us will come to Dr. Who or Michael J. Fox and going Back to the Future." For a brief time, the lead boat was a day behind everyone else!

Gold Coast Australia
The Gold Coast Australia crew will be greeted by the Latitude 38 crew when they arrive in Oakland. © 2018 Bruce Sutherland / onEdition

Juan Coetzer, skipper of Geraldton Western Australia, observed that, "Crossing the Date Line also marks the occasion that we are halfway around the world from our starting point in the UK, where we will cross the Greenwich Meridian twice before we finish." On Wednesday, the fleet passed 800 miles north of Midway, and reached the midway mark on their journey from Qingdao, China, to San Francisco Bay. 

This morning, second place Singapore's Ben Bowley reported, “Another 15 degrees of longitude, another hour forward with the clocks! By the time you're reading this report we shall also have broken the 2,000-nm barrier." Qingdao's skipper Ian Conchie elaborates, "We continue to change our local time to suit the daylight hours. We add an hour every few days so that it is light for the early morning watch change at 0700 local."

Many boats were plagued by flu and/or stomach bugs that sound as if they were picked up in Qingdao. Gold Coast Australia crew member Wayne Reed is suffering from a suspected broken ankle and is being cared for by fellow crew members, including two nurses and a physiotherapist. Since they are more than 1,000 miles from any shore, they are continuing to race, with a repair to their mast track holding up. They're near the center of a high pressure system, enjoying fast reaching conditions on surprisingly flat seas with 20-30 knots of wind. The fleet's expected to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge April 1-7, and we'd love for you to join us in welcoming 'our' entry, Gold Coast Australia (the boat we were assigned), at Jack London Square.  See and click here to RSVP for the greeting committee!

Roaring Forties for Volvo Ocean Race Fleet

After passing through a region of "simpering" six-knot winds en route to the Southern Ocean, five Volvo Open 70s are being led on a roller-coaster ride to Cape Horn by Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand. They are 30 miles north of latitude 47 degrees south, which marks the ice limit which the boats are forbidden to cross. Camper racked up a 24-hour run of more than 530 miles. Camper's Hamish Hooper described the conditions as, "Blowing up to 43 knots, averaging 24 knots but doing over 30 knots of boat speed at times while skimming up and down, over and through 23-ft waves in the freezing cold." Skipper Chris Nicholson says that bailing is like chasing cats around. "The water is just running from one end to the other and it is hard to catch."

Team Telefonica
The Southern Ocean washes over the deck of Team Telefonica as they chase the lead boats to Cape Horn. © 2018 Diego Fructuoso / Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race

Meanwhile, Sanya is limping back to New Zealand, a trip of 1,000 miles which will take about five days, sailing upwind. The windward rudder broke on Thursday while the boat was doing 20-25 knots in waves of up to 10 feet, punching a hole in the hull, which has been patched up.

American entry Puma is sailing with two injured crewmen. Helmsman Thomas Johanson dislocated a shoulder after being thrown across the cockpit by a wave, and bowman Casey Smith reinjured his back during a routine sail change. Onboard medic Jono Swain popped Johanson's shoulder back in. "It was instantaneous relief," said skipper Ken Read. Smith is being treated with pain medication and may need to be taken off the boat at Cape Horn.

Follow the Volvo Ocean Race at

- latitude / chris

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Insane Racing in the Tropics

March 23, 2012 – Pacific Ocean & Caribbean

Ethan, one of the notorious Bunzini Brothers of St. Barth and Martha's Vineyard, and son of Scotty, captain of the 65-ft wood schooner Juno, gives a facial expression that typifies the intensity of sailing and partying that goes on during the St. Barth Bucket. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

On the West Coast of Mexico, it started with the San Diego YC's Puerto Vallarta Race, followed by the high-end Copa de Mexico on Banderas Bay, where the fleet was started by Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico. And yesterday the 20th Annual Banderas Bay Regatta, the best cruisers regatta in Mexico, started out of Paradise Marina. Whew!

But that's nothing compared to what's happening and about to happen in the Caribbean. Sixty-eight boats are competing in the 39th International Rolex Regatta Thursday through Sunday in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgins. Two Farr 400s from Southern California — Michael Shlens' Palos Verdes-based Blade and Doug Baker's Long Beach-based Magnitude 400 — will be competing, and Barry Lewis of Mill Valley will be driving 40 Degrees, one of the Class 40 boats. We have no idea how many more West Coast sailors will be having fun in St. Thomas, but all should have a good time.

Three of the four J Class yachts, left to right, Ranger, Endeavour, and Hanuman, reach off to a downwind mark. These gigantic racing machines are marvels. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As if that wasn't enough, the next three days will be the St. Barth Bucket, which in our mind, and that of many other sailing observers, is the greatest spectacle in sailing. Unless you're here, you just can't believe the fleet or the buzz. Forty-seven boats, from 96 to 220 feet, with the most sumptuous interiors money can buy, will be competing with various degrees of intensity. It's mind-boggling to just walk down the docks in Gustavia and see what man, given enough cash, can create in a yacht. These boats are not only spectacular, but are in spectacular condition. And they race with 30 to 70 crew/guests. You can only imagine what the parties will be like on this French island.

Jim Clark's Hanuman charges rather than surfs down a wave. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Would you have the stones to stand at the bow with two other crew and try to gybe a 60-ft long spinnaker pole in a strong breeze? Probably not. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Yesterday there was a special pre-Bucket race between the four J Class boats Hanuman, Velsheda, Endeavour and Ranger. It's our understanding that this is the largest gathering of the approximately 135-ft boats in 80 years. These incredibly powerful boats race without lifelines. Crew going overboard is not an unusual occurrence, so special rules are in effect. For instance, you need not finish with all the crew you started with, but you must do a 180 for each crew lost overboard. And yes, each J Class yacht has a boat trailing behind to pick up any swimmers. All these big boats, but particularly the J Class boats, require crew with huge cojones and little fear of danger. Nonetheless, one of the crewman in yesterday's race had to be rushed to the hospital with unspecified injuries suffered during a spinnaker maneuver. We're glad to report that he's said to be recovering well.

All 47 boats will be racing for the next three days in winds predicted to be in the 10- to 18-knot range. To a lot of skippers, such as Mill Valley's Patrick Adams of the Swan 100 Varsovie, that's a lot better — and safer — than the 30 knots they had to deal with in the Heineken Regatta earlier this month. Joining Patrick on the big Swan will be Jim Gregory of the Pt. Richmond-based Schumacher 50 Morpheus, who is now cruising the Caribbean with his wife Debbie.

Matt Brooks St. Francis YC-based Dorade, looking sensational, and waiting for the Voiles de St. Barth. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We also bumped into Dawn Riley, who headed the San Francisco YC's America True American's Cup effort a few years ago. She'll be sailing the Holland-designed, Perini Navi 150 Helios II again this year. We also crossed paths with Bay Area rigger and Moore 24 (Eight Ball) sailor extraordinaire Scott Easom. He told us he'll be part of the navy crewing on the 190-ft Dubois-designed, Huisman-built Twizzle. We're sure there are a number of other West Coast sailors lucky enough to be here.

The temporary North Sails loft worked well into the night. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

There aren't as many West Coast boats in the Bucket this year, but we suppose we can claim Jim 'Silicon Valley' Clark's Hanuman and the Los Angeles-based Frers 96 Symmetry that spent a lot of time in Driscoll's Yard in San Diego last fall.

Although far too small to be entered in the Bucket, Dorade, the legendary S&S 52 built in 1929 and which is being totally restored by Matt Brooks of the St. Francis YC, was out sailing yesterday. She's waiting for the Voiles de St. Barth, another gang-buster of a sailing regatta at the French island that doesn't start until early next month.

And for the ladies, a little shopping. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As if to add to the buzz around St. Barth, yesterday the Celebrity Summit cruise ship, hosting a gay cruise, pulled into port. She's been in the news because while tied up at the dock in Dominica, two of her Palm Spring-based passengers apparently had sex on deck in site of people on shore. Religion is big on some Caribbean islands, and some islands prohibit sex between members of the same sex. So the two were arrested for "buggery." The Chief Magistrate called the two "rogues and vagabonds." Their attorney explained the two had merely been "struck by the beautiful mountain, the clean and clear fresh air, and having had a few cocktails, threw caution to the wind." After throwing $900 to the government of Dominica, the two were allowed to fly home.

Some readers might wonder what has happened to the La Gamelle Syndicate's Olson 30 La Gamelle. We last reported that the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca had flown to Martinique to pick her up and sail her 250 miles back to St. Barth. Thanks to way more north in the wind and swell than preferred, and a much bigger swell, it was a wild trip. But a fantastic adventure. While we'll have much more on the story next month, we can say the Olson has gotten a tremendous reception from the locals and charter boat captains, all of whom are eager to have a sail on her.

- latitude / richard

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