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Solo Sailor to Circumnavigate Japan

May 9, 2012 – Victoria, BC

Kirk Patterson
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

The fact that Kirk Patterson speaks and reads Japanese fluently will undoubtedly come in handy during his upcoming circumnavigation of that island nation. But he has to cross a huge patch of ocean before he can use those linguistic skills. © 2018 Courtesy Kirk Patterson

The 1,500-mile-long nation of Japan has undoubtedly been circumnavigated before. But as far as Canadian sailor Kirk Patterson can tell, that feat has never been accomplished by a gaijin (foreigner), so he intends to be the first. And he'll do it singlehanded. 

But before he can begin that ambitious cruise Patterson, 58, faces a substantial hurdle: solo sailing from his Victoria, B.C. home port roughly 6,000 miles across the North Pacific via Hawaii.

Don't assume that Patterson is a wide-eyed dreamer with unreal expectations, though. Not only has he lived and worked in Japan for 25 years, but he has tried to prepare himself thoroughly for this epic voyage since learning to sail a decade ago.

"The idea of exploring the world in a sailboat has been in the back of my mind since I was a kid," he explains, "but I guess I thought you had to be rich and grow up in sailing family to do such things."

A vacation to the Marquesas years ago rekindled his childhood fantasies, and afterward he began devouring all the sailing literature he could find — including well-worn copies of Latitude that he'd often come across in a Japanese Starbucks.

Since buying Silk Purse, a custom steel-hulled 40-footer, four years ago, Patterson has logged 8,000 sea miles exploring northwest waters, including a cruise to Alaska, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) and around Vancouver Island. The 2,200-mile trip from the Northwest to Honolulu — which he'll begin this week — may prove to be a cakewalk compared to the 4,200 miles from there to Hokkaido, Japan. "I'll do my best to avoid typhoon tracks along the way," he says, "as well as the 270 unmanned fishing boats that are apparently still floating around out there after the 2011 tsunami." 

Patterson's circumnavigation will be supported by the Japan Hydrographic Association, the Japan Sailing Federation, and the Institute for Global Maritime Studies. We hope to carry updates of his travels here, and in the pages of Latitude 38. In the meantime, we wish this brave adventurer the very best of luck.

- latitude / andy

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Aegean Skipper's Body Found

May 9, 2012 – Coronado Islands

Theo Mavromatis's body was discovered this weekend by fishermen. Photo Courtesy Aegean
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The San Diego County coroner has identified a body found by Southern California fishermen on Sunday as that of Theo Mavromatis, the skipper of the doomed Hunter 376 Aegean. Mavromatis (49) and crew Kevin Rudolph (53), William Johnson (57), and Joseph Stewart (64) were racing in the cruising division of the Lexus Newport to Ensenada Race on April 28 when their SPOT tracker suddenly stopped transmitting in the early morning hours. Wreckage from the boat was discovered the next afternoon, along with the bodies of three of her crewmembers. According to the medical examiner, everyone aboard sustained blunt force trauma to their heads, with Mavromatis, Rudolph and Johnson dying from their injuries and Stewart drowning after receiving the injuries.

From the boat's track, it looks as if Aegean was moving at a steady pace in light winds — indicating it was motoring – when it appears to have run into the northernmost Coronado Island, but many still hold to the theory that Aegean was run down by a freighter in the night. The Coast Guard has yet to announce the findings of their investigation, but Lt. Bill Fitzgerald of USCG Sector San Diego indicated that the evidence is definitely leading them in a particular direction.

- latitude / ladonna

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Ad: Intelligent Maintenance

May 9, 2012 – Planet Earth

Intelligent Maintenance

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Sailing-Centric Activities

May 9, 2012 – San Francisco Bay

At the Bay Model, Kame Richards uses Angel Island as his podium to help sailors understand how to use the Bay's currents to their advantage. Photo Latitude / LaDonna
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If the recent delightful weather has given you 'boat fever', there are a number of fun ways to feed the addiction over the next several days. Tomorrow at 7 p.m., Kame Richards of Pineapple Sails will give his ever-popular 'How the Tides Work for You' presentation at the Sausalito's Bay Model. Kame will demonstrate — aided by the recently refilled replica of San Francisco Bay — how to use the Bay's tricky currents to get you home in time for supper or elevate your position in the racing stats. The talk costs $15 (cash, please) and will repeat on Saturday at 1 p.m. Email Jim Tantillo, or call (408) 263-7877 to RSVP (required!).

Friday night sees the release of of Mark Shelley and Jim Norton's film Otter 501 in San Francisco (Presidio Theatre), Berkeley (Elmwood Theater) and Monterey (New Oslo Cinemas). Follow the journey of a lost sea otter pup and the young woman determined to help it. Opens in Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and San Diego later in the month. See for more details.

Catch the opening of the film Otter 501 this weekend. © 2018 Sea Studios /

If you're preparing for some long-distance racing this summer, be sure to sign up for the Pacific Cup's Safety at Sea Seminar, sanctioned by US Sailing, at Cal Maritime in Vallejo this Saturday. The all-day event moderated by Bruce Brown will cover, as you can imagine, many aspects of safety at sea, and is required for the skippers and select crew of Pacific Cup entries, but anyone is welcome to sign up. The fee is $100, and you can find more details here.

A fundraiser dinner and auction for the Tam High Sailing Club will be held Friday night from 5-9 p.m. at Sausalito YC. Dinner will be followed by an America's Cup presentation by noted sailing writer Kimball Livingston and a silent auction. $40* adults; $15 students; 12 and under free (*$35 with advanced reservations). Space is limited, so RSVP by email.

Check out our online calendar for more fun stuff going on, but you shouldn't need a calendar to remember the most important event this weekend: Mother's Day! With Sunday's forecast of "abundant sunshine" and temps in the low- to mid-70s, you can't go wrong with surprising Mom with a delightful daysail and perhaps a picnic behind Angel Island.

Dad can come along for the ride too, but Sunday is all about Mom. Photo Latitude / LaDonna
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / ladonna

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Racing Round-Up

May 9, 2012 – Northern California and Beyond

Vallejo Race
Mike Maloney's Express 37 Bullet and Bob Bloom's J/35 Jarlen split jibes on San Pablo Bay in Saturday's Vallejo Race. Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The crown jewel in a tiara of San Francisco Bay races this weekend, the Great Vallejo Race, sparkled in glorious sunshine from the start north of Treasure Island to Vallejo YC on Saturday. The Islander 36 Zingara, channeled by one of her crew, wrote, "I like to go fast, like any Italian gypsy woman would, so Saturday was a bit of a struggle, though I felt a little less guilty because the light and shifty winds did have one upside: a rare warm race weekend for the Bay Area, one I'll be pining for come the howling winds of summer." Sunday's race from Vallejo YC to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge benefited from a little more wind. "Great sail trim and sustained winds kept me pretty close-hauled," said Zingara. "The warm weather still held, even though we had a good amount of breeze for pretty much the entire race." For results, see We'll be featuring the Vallejo Race in the June issue of Latitude 38.

Dinghy capsize
Proving that the Cityfront had more wind on Saturday than the Vallejo Race course, Bob Tennant capsizes his 5o5 between Tim Murphy (#8937) and Steve Anderes. © 2018 Chris Ray /

Observing St. Francis YC's Elvstrom Zellerbach Regatta this weekend, photographer Chris Ray noted that, "The wind turned on around 11 a.m., the sun shone brightly, and with the full moon, our big tidal currents made the race course interesting. With 5o5s, Finns, kites, Lasers, Radials, Wetas, windsurfers, and for the first time, Moths, StFYC had their hands full keeping two race courses going." See for details and results.

Moth and Laser
Great Grand Master Laser sailor John Andron appears to be looking over his shoulder at a newcomer foiling Moth. © 2018 Chris Ray /

On April 28, Tim Russell of Novato won the Konocti Cup on Clear Lake with his Wylie Wabbit Weckless. Jim Carlsen of Konocti Bay Sailing Club reports: "With clear skies and winds ranging from 8 to 12 knots a fleet of 41 boats competed in the Full Cup, a 26-mile long distance race, or the Half Cup, a 13-mile race for boats with a PHRF rating of 211 or more. It proved to be a perfect day for three well-sailed Wylie Wabbits who jumped all over a 23-boat Full Cup fleet. The Full Cup B fleet, for boats with a PHRF of 151 or greater, also saw a hotly contested race for the title as Pat Brown on his new to him J/24, Cheap Trick, passed Jim Ziebell on his Capri 25, Lakota, on the second to last leg of the race for the win. Taking line honors in the Full Cup was Michael Bilafer, from Richmond YC, on his Henderson 30, Family Hour, finishing in 3 hours, 49 minutes, 47 seconds. Taking both line honors as well as first corrected in the Half Cup was the Wilderness 21 Gold Rush, sailed by James Norman."

Full Cup racers
The Henderson 30 Family Hour followed by Wylie Wabbits Kwazy, Weckless and Jack, with the Thompson 650 Flight Risk in pursuit. All of which demonstrate that lake racing is not just for dinghies. © 2018 Kitty Jones /

"A few years ago the club instituted a multihull division and this year saw four boats competing for that title," said Carlsen. "Bill ‘Daddy’ Erkelens with Marie ‘Granny’ Erkelens on the trapeze of their Tornado catamaran, Go Granny Go, blistered the course in an elapsed time of 3 hours, 3 minutes, and 12 seconds."

Sausalito YC's Midwinter Series suffered from a deficit of wind. The trend is continuing into spring. Race Chair Dave Borton tells the tale of their first Tuesday night race on May 1: "Strong flood and light, light winds made for about an hour delay in getting the race started. The spinnaker boats were able to cross the starting line for the beginning of a one lap windward-leeward course. The non-spinnaker fleet were poised for their start five minutes later when the race committee fouled the starting sequence. The five-minute starting sequence correction period came as the wind died and about half the fleet was able to cross the start line. The other half drifted toward Angel Island and down Raccoon Strait. Then a whale cruised through the parked boats.

"Meanwhile, most of the spinnaker fleet rounded the weather mark and headed to the finish – only to run into the same parking lot the non-spins had found. One by one, the spinnaker fleet drifted by the finish line and headed toward Raccoon on the flood. Three non-spin boats were able to round the weather mark, but the race committee abandoned all races about fifteen minutes before the time limit when it was apparent that no boats would finish." The next Tuesday night race will be on May 15. "Just wait," said Borton, "it’s likely to be a blower to average things out." See

Tonight is the skippers' meeting and the deadline to enter the Stand Down Marathon, a replacement race for SSS racers whose Singlehanded Farallones  has been postponed due to the investigation into the loss of Low Speed Chase. The new race will sail from Golden Gate YC to Pt. Bonita buoy, down to a buoy near the San Mateo Bridge, and back up to a GGYC finish. See for details and to sign up.

Clipper racers in the Panama Canal
The first four Clipper 68s have transited the Panama Canal and are waiting on the Caribbean side for the other six. © 2018 /

All ten Clipper Round the World boats have finished Race 10 from San Francisco to Panama, and four have completed their transit of the Panama Canal on their way to New York. Richard Hewson, skipper of race leader Gold Coast Australia, recounted how he came to apply for the position of skipper. “In February 2010 I was transiting through the Panama Canal in a Swan 68 heading towards the Pacific and I began to read a yachting magazine. I came across an advert in the back: ‘Skippers Wanted for Round the World Yacht Race’. After about half an hour of consideration my CV was in the out box en route to Clipper Ventures. Six months later I was on a plane from Australia to England and ready to sail my skipper trial for the Clipper Race. The transit through the canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic is a major milestone for it was here that I decided to apply for the job and to realize a dream of sailing around the world.” Gold Coast won Race 10, followed by Welcome to Yorkshire and Visit Finland. See the race viewer at to follow the remainder of the fleet through the canal.

After four days of women’s match racing on May 4-7, Anna Tunnicliffe and her Team Maclaren crew Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi won the 2012 US Olympic Team Qualifying Regatta by defeating Sally Barkow in the “first-to-six-wins” final match-up, which was held in Weymouth and Portland, UK, site of the 2012 Olympic Sailing Regatta. With the win, Team Maclaren were selected for the US Olympic Team. Molly Vandemoer of Redwood City, who will be a first-time Olympian, observed, “It’s reassuring to know that if you work hard and you keep focused it’s going to pay off in the end. We still have a lot to do.”

Erica Heineken and Johnny Heineken
Erika Heineken follows her brother, World Champion Johnny Heineken, in this weekend's kite racing at StFYC's Elvstrom Zellerbach. © 2018 Chris Ray /

The ISAF (International Sailing Federation) Council has voted that Kiteboarding will replace Windsurfing for the men’s and women’s board events and confirmed the equipment that will be used for the Women’s Skiff and Mixed Multihull Events in the Rio 2016 Olympics. The Mackay FX, referred to as the 49er FX, was selected as the two-person women’s skiff, and the Nacra 17 joins the Olympic equipment family after being selected for the two-person mixed multihull event. See

- latitude / chris

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