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Vendée Globe Down to 16

November 16, 2012 – Atlantic Ocean

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

The normally cheerful Sam Davies was forced to abandon the Vendée Globe when she dismasted. © 2018 Sam Davies / Savéol

More carnage in the Vendée Globe over the past two days. Yesterday, Great Britain's effervescent Sam Davies reported that Savéol's rig came crashing down as she neared the center of the depression. She was below at the time, preparing to put a third reef in the main, and was uninjured. "I could hear the mast rubbing against the hull and down the whole side of the hull and under the boat," she told race officials. "I knew that it could damage the hull if I was unlucky, so the main thing was to close all the watertight bulkheads in case it did get pierced."

You don't have to speak French to understand the powerful emotions Davies must have been feeling when she made the above video. She was able to cut the rig free after the conditions calmed, and is under power heading for 100-mile distant Madeira.

Shortly after Davies bowed out of the race, Louise Burton, the youngest sailor in the event, also announced his abandonment. Readers will recall that Burton was attempting to make it back to Les Sables d'Olonne in time to repair a broken shroud, damaged when Bureau Vallée collided with a fishing trawler, and restart the race, but conditions wouldn't allow it. He's instead diverted to La Coruña, Spain, in an effort to save his mast.

Armel Cléac'h, aka The Jackal, spent yesterday hunting down Francois Gabart. © 2018 Vincent Curutchet / BPCE

Meanwhile, Armel Le Cléac'h on Banque Populaire has taken the lead from Francois Gabard on Macif, putting 20 miles between himself and Gabard, who'd been leading the pack almost from the start. Just four miles behind Macif is Bernard Stamm on Cheminées Poujoulat. Not far behind the three leaders is the ever-cool Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss, who edged passed Maitre CoQ, Riou and Virbac-Paprec 3 to snag fourth. 

- latitude / ladonna

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

Boatload of Coke & a Mid-Ocean Rescue

November 16, 2012 – Kingdom of Tonga, South Pacific

The laidback Kingdom of Tonga is normally so sleepy and tranquil that it rarely makes headlines, but this week was different. Two of the biggest stories buzzing across South Pacific news wires occurred in or near Tonga.

coke yacht on the reef
All things considered, smuggling coke across oceans is a tough way to make a living. © 2018 Australian Federal Police

In a bizarre case that might qualify for the Darwin Awards category in the annals of drug smuggling (if there is such a thing), the 42-ft sailing yacht JeReVe was discovered by Tongan authorities last week after driving high onto a reef off Luatafito Atoll in Vava'u. Near the helm was the badly decomposed body of a caucasian man, and sealed within the hull was — wait for it — 200 kilos (that's over 400 lbs!) of cocaine, with an estimated value of $120 million USD. This small mountain of coke is believed to be the largest haul ever captured in the South Pacific.

crash site
We may never know why the smuggler ended up on this remote Tongan reef. The boat was accidentally discovered by divers. © 2018 David Lee

Apparently the smuggler and his plot would have been doomed even if he hadn't navigated so poorly. Tongan and Cook Islands authorities had been on the lookout for the yacht since August, having been informed of the operation by U.S. agencies. Apparently, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was on to the scam even before the boat left Ecuador, bound for Australia. A recent U.S. government statement explained that a specialized multi-agency project has been launched to examine a number of vulnerabilities in the South Pacific that are being exploited by international organized crime syndicates.

In an unrelated case, Stephen Jones, a 52-year-old Brit, and New Zealander Tania Davies, 43, were rescued Friday 430 miles southwest of Tonga by the Hong Kong-based cargo ship Chengtu. The pair had been drifting for two days after their 38-ft fiberglass sloop Windigo was rolled by ferocious storm conditions — 50-knot winds and 30-ft seas. Although the boat righted itself, hatches and portholes were smashed in and she was listing badly.

rescued couple
The intensity of the storm keep rescuers from rendezvousing sooner. © 2018 Windigo

Conditions finally abated enough last Friday to pluck the pair from their stricken craft by the freighter's crew. They are now safely aboard the New Zealand naval vessel HMNZS Otago, or safely in Auckland.

- latitude / andy

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Classy Deadline This Sunday

November 16, 2012 – Mill Valley

"As a result of my Classy Classified in Latitude 38, our boat sold quickly. Thanks for your help in making the placement of the ad easy, and for your great customer support!"

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, our print deadline is earlier this month. So, to get your ad into the December issue of Latitude 38, it must be submitted by this Sunday, the 18th, at 5 p.m. — the Classy deadline, which will, by necessity, be strictly enforced. A 40-word ad is just $40, and best of all, you can do it online!

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Cruising Author at Book Passage

November 16, 2012 – Corte Madera, Marin

Garth Wilcox and Wendy Hinman, seen here in Saipan, cruised the Pacific economically aboard their Wylie 31 Velella on just $1,200 per month. Photo Courtesy Velella
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Frequent Changes in Latitudes contributor Wendy Hinman will be signing copies of her book Tightwads on the Loose: A Seven-Year Pacific Odyssey at Book Passage in Corte Madera on Sunday at 6 p.m. The book details her and husband Garth Wilcox's cruise aboard their Port Ludlow, WA-based Wylie 31 Velella that wound up taking seven years and covering 34,000 miles. Wendy is a delightful person and any would-be cruiser — especially of the feminine variety — would do well to hear her speak on the cruising lifestyle. 

- latitude / ladonna

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Weekend Racing Preview

November 16, 2012 – San Francisco Bay and Long Beach

Byte Size
Midwinter sailing is often mellow - except when storms blow through. This is Anna Alderkamp's Santana 22 Byte Size in a Jack Frost race last winter. © 2018 Fred Fago

"The storm door is open," announced the meteorologist on KCBS this morning. Nevertheless, San Francisco Bay does have a couple of midwinter series that kick off tomorrow. Encinal YC's Jack Frost, sailed not on the Estuary, but mid-Bay north of Treasure Island and west of the Berkeley Pier, features two-race days for one design and PHRF fleets. Santana 22s, Wyliecat 30s, and Olson 25s are among the former. The courses will be windward-leewards using drop marks. You can still sign up; see

Island Fever Race
Michael Finn's J/109 Queen Bee and Dan Alvarez's JS9000 JetStream competed in a rainy Island Fever race last season. © 2018 /

South Beach YC's Island Fever Series uses fixed marks (some of them islands) in the South and Central Bay. Besides PHRF, divisions are available for Catalina 30s, SF Bay 30s and Non-Spinnaker. What's unique about this series is the start in McCovey Cove. The Sailing Instructions call for boats to stay out of McCovey Cove and clear of the start line until they are invited into the Cove by the Race Committee. For safety, boats may keep their motors running until the one minute signal, and boats may not hoist their spinnakers until they've crossed the start line. For more info or to register, see

A few hundred miles down the coast in Long Beach, Alamitos Bay YC's biggest regatta of the year will also get some rain. This weekend's Turkey Day Regatta is actually two days, with a turkey dinner in between. So many classes of boats big and small are invited that we don't have room to list them all here — you'll have to read the Notice of Race. Enter online by 4 p.m. today or in person thereafter. Go to for everything you need to know.

If you didn't know better, you wouldn't think we'd have any races available to us on Thanksgiving Weekend. But being the sailing fanatics that we are here in the Bay Area, that's not the case. Tiburon YC's Wild Turkey Race gives you a chance to work off the stuffing and tryptophan on Friday the 23rd. And you could win a bottle of the eponymous beverage — all for a paltry $5 entry fee! The NOR and entry form can be found at

- latitude / chris

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