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Speed Thrills On Foils

August 24, 2012 – San Francisco Bay

Thirty-three knots is the fastest we'd ever sailed on a boat — until yesterday. The old record was in the Bay aboard Frenchman Bruno Peyron's then 86-ft catamaran Commodore Explorer shortly after she'd established a Japan-to-San Francisco record. The new record is 35 knots aboard Frenchman Alain Thébault's magnificent 60-ft l'Hydroptère DCNS. The French have a passion for speed under sail. We surely would have gone much faster yesterday, but l'Hydroptère was limited by winds that topped out at about 20 knots. Unlike most boats, she thrives in 30 to 35 knots of wind. Indeed, that's what it was blowing when she hit her record speed of 64.8 mph. Yes, that's 64.8 mph. Had she been on a freeway, the CHP would have thought about pulling her over. For the record, she capsized almost immediately after setting the record.

When she's upside-down, you get a really good view of l'Hydroptere DCNS's foils. © 2018 Gilles Martin-Raget / l'Hydroptere

l'Hydroptère is unlike any sailboat boat we've ever seen. In fact, Thébault thinks of her as half boat, half airplane. At rest, she sort of looks like a trimaran, in that she has a main hull and two tiny amas. But these three hulls are only in the water at rest. Give her 12 to 15 knots of wind, and she's up on her foils — and accelerating like crazy. Raw power, raw speed! The thing that surprised us was how smooth she is at speed. Of course, it probably wasn't that nice when the crew sailed her from Long Beach to San Francisco last week in typical northwesterly winds. When sailing l'Hydroptère you must be out in the open, and the apparent wind quickly becomes ferocious. It's said the crew arrived cold. We bet.

We boarded l'Hydroptère near Yellow Bluff yesterday afternoon about 3:30, and were shown a wild time zipping back and forth across the Bay. Once the boat begins to pick up speed, she gets on her foils until the windward side is about 10 to 15 feet in the air. And she just keeps going straight and true. And she passes all other boats like they are standing still. It's stunning. Check out the terrific video Jeremy Leonard of Surf City Racing shot during our ride.

Thébault drove the boat using a wheel looking forward in a sitting position — almost  as if he were driving a tractor. He says he dreamed of such a foiler since he was a little boy. He got started in '75 with one-third size models in conjunction with French sailing legend Eric Taberly. The evolution of l'Hydroptère has not been short or easy. There have been four catastrophic failures since the boat was launched in '94. But Thébault has kept plugging away. But even after all these years, the 50-year-old welcomes guests and drives the boat with a childlike enthusiasm and delight. It's a wonderful thing to see.

l'Hydroptère did not come to San Francisco Bay to steal thunder from the America's Cup World Series. She'd been brought to Los Angeles with an aim of establishing a new Los Angeles-to-Hawaii TransPac record. Less than four days, anyone? But the winds haven't been right, so she was brought to the Bay — until TransPac winds are right — to show her off. We're told she was a show stealer from the World Series yesterday afternoon. We don't know about that, because we were too busy hanging on for dear life and thrilling at a truly unique sailing craft.

l'Hydroptère is expected to be on the Bay sailing for the next several days. You can't miss her. She's the only one with all three hulls high out of the water.


- latitude / richard

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America's Cup World Series Viewer's Guide

August 24, 2012 – San Francisco Cityfront

“This racing is awesome. It’s the best I’ve ever done in any boat." That's how Olympic medalitst Santiago Lange of Artemis Racing summed up yesterday's America's Cup World Series action off the San Francisco Cityfront. Competition continues today with match racing quarterfinals at 2:05 p.m. and 2:22 p.m., followed by fleet races at 2:50 and 3:25.

Oracle boats
The home team scored big yesterday, and now lead the fleet racing stats. © 2018 Gilles Martin-Raget

Much to the pleasure of hometown fans, the two S.F.-based Oracle Team USA boats placed first and second in the first race yesterday after Russell Coutts pulled off a phenomenal start. Team USA's Jimmy Spitthill won the second race, with Coutts' sixth place finish strong enough to put both S.F. boats at the top of the fleet race rankings, followed by the two Artemis cats. See the Series' website for a full recap.

Three cheers for the folks who put together the America's Cup World Series — which lasts through Sunday — because they've created a great viewer experience. The sailing is up close and personal from the Golden Gate YC to Fort Mason, and it's been exciting, particularly in the fleet races, where boat bumping hasn't been unusual. The only downside is that the wind hasn't really blown over 20 knots yet. But that may change today, as the forecast is for up to 25 this afternoon.

AC youth
From the Marina Green yesterday, spectators had a dual view of AC45 fleet racing and ACWS Youth Day dinghy racers. Photo Latitude / John
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Viewer central is right there on the Marina Green, where they have live — and often humorous — commentary, all the AC45s moored right out front, an AC45 on dry land for your inspection, all kinds of things to see and do, and when the racing is over the competitors are brought right through the crowd to the stage area. It's all been really nicely set up and managed.

There are food and beverage concessions, which were able to handle the crowd on Wednesday and Thursday. The only store overwhelmed was the logowear store. But we've got an idea all concessions will be taxed to the maximum during the weekend.

Sailors jockeyed for the best viewing position to watch the AC World Series yesterday. "Be early to insure a spot on the perimeter edge and be sure to have your air horn ready," advises Michael Moen of the Sabre 402 Blow'n Away. "The best we could accomplish was about four boats out." © 2018 Michael Moen

There was a good crowd on Wednesday, a much bigger crowd yesterday, and we can only expect they are going to be much, much bigger crowds today, tomorrow and Sunday. That being the case, some might think that watching from their boats is the way to go. Maybe, but we've had reports that it's hard to get a front row position, and you've constantly got to monitor all the other boats around you. We think viewing from land — and being part of the crowd — is going to be the most fun, particularly on Saturday and Sunday. But parking and getting to Marina Green are going to take some effort. (Check out for San Francisco's transportation options.)

Bottom line? You really don't want to miss this, as it's great sailing fun. And if you go once, we think you'll be going for a second or third day. Hope to see you there!

mix zone
All sorts of cool stuff happens in the AC village on the Marina Green. One highlight is hanging around the Mix Zone, where spectators can observe the international press corps interviewing key racers at the end of each day's competition. Photo Latitude / Donna
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Today and Saturday racing starts at 2 p.m.; Sunday at 11:30 a.m. All will be broadcast live around the world on the America’s Cup YouTube channel. In the Bay Area, TV coverage Friday and Saturday can be seen on NBC Bay Area 11.2 and on Comcast Sportsnet California. The Super Sunday finale will be broadcast live, coast to coast, on NBC from 11:30 am PDT.

stats as of thurs
Let's here it for the home team! Oracle Team USA is currently on top. © 2018 ACWS

- latitude / richard/at

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Ad: Waterfront Apartments for Sale

August 24, 2012 – Sausalito, CA

Sausalito Waterfront for sale

© 2018 /

Three minutes to the Golden Gate Bridge. Swimming pool, sandy beach. Price: $18,880,000 • (415) 717-1312

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Liz Clark at SF Patagonia Store Tonight

August 24, 2012 – San Francisco

Liz's talk tonight at the SF Patagonia store is free. © 2018 Patagonia /!/events/162833533841084/

If you missed Liz Clark at the California Academy of Sciences last night, the young woman with the Santa Barbara Cal 40 Swell who has been singlehanding around Central America and French Polynesia for the last bunch of years, and who has been a frequent contributor Latitude, will be presenting her Voyage to the Source show at the San Francisco Patagonia Store at 770 North Point at 7:30 p.m. tonight. She free show is all about the year she just spent in the Tuamotus and Marquesas, living as close to nature as possible. We say check it out!

- latitude / richard

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Racing Preview

August 24, 2012 – California Coast and Beyond

Harding Rock rounding
Last year's Sarcoma Cup Sunday Pursuit Race at the windward mark, Harding Rock. © 2018 /

This weekend brings us the fifth annual Sarcoma Cup, a fund-raiser hosted by Berkeley YC. Even if you can't make the race, there's plenty going on shoreside. Check out all the activities at Another two-day event this weekend is the West Marine Fun Regatta for junior sailors at Santa Cruz YC. Also on Monterey Bay, Elkhorn YC hosts the Double Angle Race, with starts in Monterey and Santa Cruz and a converging finish in Moss Landing. See

The Wooden Boat Racing Association is sailing their one designs on the Knox course on Saturday. See On Sunday, Fremont Sailing Club's Fall Series begins on Lake Elizabeth. All the info's at

Labor Day Weekend kicks off a day early with next Friday's Windjammers Race from San Francisco to Santa Cruz; see last week's Racing Preview for more info.

Then, on Saturday, September 1, the Jazz Cup takes off on a 26-mile usually downwind romp from Treasure Island to Benicia. "With a big favorable current, hang on for a fast ride!" promises co-host South Beach YC's website. "It's the result of an historic challenge made over drinks at Benicia YC when our club was just a year old and had not yet proven the strength of our racing fleet." The signature trophy, an antique trumpet, can only be awarded to the best finisher from the two organizing clubs, but everyone's welcome to vie for all the other prizes. Register by August 26 to avoid a late fee. See

Frost in SoCal already? The Southern California Youth Yacht Racing Association (SCYYRA) will use Alamitos Bay YC's Labor Day Holiday Regatta on September 1-2 as the first event of their 2012-2013 Ullman/Frost Series, plus Laser District 25 will have their championships there. "Lasers and Radials will have the option to race either in the sheltered confines of Alamitos Bay (choose 'Bay') or in the traditional ABYC race area in Long Beach Harbor ('Ocean')," explained Steven Smith of ABYC. "The District 25 Championship and Ullman/Frost Series will be contested in the Ocean only." Invited to race on the Ocean course are the 5o5, A-Cat, Cal 20, Etchells, Finn, Formula 18, Hobie 16, Laser Full Rig, Laser Radial, Olson 30, PHRF, Portsmouth (monohull and multihull), Snipe, and Thistle fleets, while the Bay course will be for Lido 14s and Naples Sabots (Seniors and Juniors), plus less-experienced Laser and Laser Radial sailors. A Mardi Gras-themed party is planned for Saturday night. See and

On the same days, Humboldt Bay YC in Eureka will host the Redwood Regatta, a weekend of camping and sailing. See

Redwood Regatta
A motley crew of Portsmouth racers and Lasers sails off the beach in Labor Day Weekend's Redwood Regatta. © 2018 /

The Alicante, Spain, start of the next Volvo Ocean Race is still two years away, but the first 65-ft boat has been ordered — by an all-female team, SCA of Sweden. The new design puts less of a premium on physical strength, which could make a women's team more competitive. For details, see

- latitude / chris

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Ad: Sale Boat of the Day

August 24, 2012 – Morro Bay, CA

Papagallo II
Turn-Key Charter Operation or Unique Personal Vessel
1964 Burger 72 • $595,000

Don't be fooled by the year – this is an aluminum vessel that has all the elegance and interior finish of a classic wooden motor yacht without the challenges of a wooden hull.

This beautiful, classic Burger 72 is currently a gourmet dinner charter vessel in Morro Bay, California, where her name is synonymous with quality events. She is also very well appointed for overnights and cruising.

Papagallo II has a current USCG Certificate of Inspection that has been in place since 1999. This is a rare opportunity to combine classic elegance with a working passenger operation. Bring the vessel to San Francisco for all the America's Cup and waterfront activities – or remain in Morro Bay and continue the tradition.  Well-appointed Captain and Crew Quarters below make living aboard a possibility as well. The possibilities and locales are as diverse as your imagination.

See our listing on Yachtworld, or contact Brokerage Listing Manager Terri Watson, (510) 207-8041.

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