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Yann Elies Wins the Figaro

June 26, 2013 – Dieppe, France

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Yann Elies sailed his Beneteau Figaro II Groupe Queguiner to his second consecutive victory in the Solitaire du Figaro. © 2018 Maxime Flipo

Everyone loves a winner. Especially one who overcomes adversity repeatedly, only to triumph over one of the world’s greatest competition. Repeatedly. That man is Yann Elies.

Firmly cementing his position as one of the biggest bad asses to inhabit Planet Earth, the 39-year-old French sailor became the first sailor in nearly four decades to win the Solitaire du Figaro two years in a row when he crossed the finish line Saturday night at Dieppe, France.

In a script that couldn’t even be imagined by the most creative Hollywood screenplay writer, Elies has gone back to back, despite breaking his headstay (!) during Leg 3. Sailing in a fleet of 40 identical Beneteau Figaro IIs, Elies posted an impressive scorecard of 1-5-21-2 to claim overall victory by 26m, 30s after more than 10 days and 1,938 miles of intense solo ocean racing all over western Europe.

In heavy downwind and reaching conditions of more than 30 knots of breeze, Elies charged through the fleet while then-leader Morgan Lagraviere slipped after staying inshore both before and after The Lizard, and sailing in lighter winds. With the nuking breeze, some sailors chose to set spinnakers while many did not, creating a huge 50-mile spread amongst the fleet. 
In addition to Yann’s inspiring triumph, some serious credit has to be given to the strong English contingent that also wrote their names into Figaro history this year. Sam Goodchild, a 23-year-old English solo sailing phenom, became the highest placing British sailor in 38 years, claiming a solid 11th place finish, while fellow Englishman Jack Bouttell, 22, became the first English sailor to ever claim the Bizuth prize for top rookie finisher, coming in 21st.
Elies' accomplishment comes just four years after shattering his femur in the Southern Ocean during the 2008-09 Vendée Globe and becoming the subject of an international headline-grabbing rescue by the Australian Navy just five days before Christmas. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find a sponsor to come back for the 2012 Vendée. Let’s hope this back-to-back Figaro triumph helps him secure a sponsor for 2016!

- ronnie simpson

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Summer Sailstice Memories

June 26, 2013 – Alameda

Last weekend offered sailors a chance to warm up at Summer Sailstice before the rain started. Photo Latitude / John A.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The last three days of rain have really put a damper on the sailing spirit, but for those who participated in last weekend's Summer Sailstice, their memories kept them warm and dry. The annual celebration of sailing was started 13 years ago by Latitude's Associate Publisher John Arndt, and was meant to encourage sailors around the world (okay, the northern hemisphere) to get out sailing on the 'longest' day of the year — the summer solstice.

Sailors from around the globe participated, even if it was on their winter solstice. "We had groups in Israel, South Africa, Peru, Bikini Atoll and Bora Bora sign up," said Arndt. He reports that thousands of local sailors attended the main celebration at Encinal YC, or smaller events such as the one held at Treasure Island YC, and that dozens of kids and adults were introduced to sailing with free boat rides.

A future America's Cup sailor in the making. Photo Latitude / John A.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

One of the favorite events at Summer Sailstice is the boatbuilding competition organized by Master Mariners member Ariane Paul. This year five teams joined in the fun, and while the studs from the American Youth Sailing Force were the fastest around the course, they lost out in a close vote "based on subjective measures" to perennial winner Berkeley Marine Center. 

We can't imagine what the judges were thinking. Looks like a perfect combination of form and function to this writer's eye! Photo Latitude / John A.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Thankfully you won't have to wait until next June 21 — the date for the 14th annual Sailstice — to once again enjoy some warm sunny sailing as this weekend is forecast to be killer: 15 knots and mid-80s. Perfection!

- latitude / ladonna

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Ad: West End Cruising Club

June 26, 2013 – Two Harbors, CA

West End Cruising Club

© 2018 West End Cruising Club /

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Cayard Defends New AC Regs

June 26, 2013 – San Francisco Bay

Marin County's Paul Cayard, CEO of Artemis Racing, shared some interesting opinions on the 34th America's Cup with Tom FitzGerald in last Friday's SF Chronicle. In case you missed it, here are some highlights:

One of the most accomplished sailors ever produced by the Bay Area, Cayard spoke candidly about his frustrations with the AC72s. © 2018 Sander van der Borch

"San Francisco is one of the windiest venues in the world. But that’s a good thing if you’ve got the right tool for it. It’s a horrible thing if you’ve got the wrong tool. Right now we’ve got the wrong tool.

"We knew [that the AC72s were dangerous] for a long time, and we probably never really as an event grabbed that reality enough and did something about it.

"The fact that this [the review of safety recommendations] is happening might save five other people’s lives."

[The elements to have the best America's Cup ever are] "all right around us. We can touch them. If we’d just had the AC45s [the smaller cats used in the AC World Series for two years] we’d be beating the teams off with a stick. We’d have more entries than the place could hold, and we’d have all their markets. . . if China was racing, we’d have Chinese media, Chinese internet. (South) Korea, France would be in it. Great Britain would be in it. Germany. Every country would be racing in it. My guess is they’d have to limit (the field) to 12."

And finally, "It’s just too expensive of a competition."

Mind you, Cayard is not some whimpy guy who has spent all his life daysailing. He won the '96-'97 Whitbread Around the World Race with EF Language, during which time he earned the unusual reputation as a skipper who didn't hesitate going to the bow in the worst conditions when the rest of the crew needed help. He later finished second in 2006 Volvo Around the World Race with Pirates of the Caribbean.

- latitude / richard

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Weekend Racing Wrap-Up

June 26, 2013 – Northern California, Sheboygan, WI, and Annapolis, MD

The crew of the Hughes 48 Iolani were happy to reach the party part of the Party Circuit race on Saturday. "It was the first time we'd ever had to reef the main during a race," said Sylvia Stompe. Photo Latitude / John A.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Even if you haven't checked a calendar lately, you would have known that summer was here by Saturday's sailing conditions on San Francisco Bay. The South Beach YC race committee sent Saturday's YRA Summer Sailstice Race on an 18-mile course, around Harding Rock twice with a Treasure Island finish. Racers estimate 25-30 knots of wind with a ridiculous amount of wiping out. See for results.

Capsized Laser at bridge
What's wrong with this picture? Nothing! This is how you get your 21-ft tall Laser under a bridge with 16-ft of clearance. In the Chichester, you're not allowed to call for bridge openings, and there are four of them. Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Meanwhile, back at the more mellow venue of the Estuary, 12 Lasers sailed in the resurrected Sir Francis Chichester Race, a circumnavigation of Alameda. They found 12-15 knots of breeze in the South Bay on the west side of the island. All but one chose a counter-clockwise circumnavigation, and — wouldn't you know it — the one contrarian, Kurt Wessels, finished first, arriving only about 10 seconds ahead of Jim Christopher, the leader of the other 11. Encinal YC ran the race as part of their big Summer Sailstice celebration (see that story above).

Sausalito YC hosted the Knarr Invitational on Sunday, with enough fog to obscure the mark — several boats sailed right past and had to backtrack to find it. Phillips Perkins' SFYC-based Three Boys and a Girl won the two-race regatta.

The trimaran Humdinger crosses the LongPac finish line between the CYC race deck and the Pt. Stuart buoy off Angel Island. © 2018 Philip Torbet

The SSS LongPac started last Wednesday, and Buzz Blackett and Jim Antrim on the Antrim 40 California Condor wowed race fans by finishing the 400+-mile course just a little more than 48 hours later. The first multihull, Lawrence Olsen's Walter Greene 35 trimaran Humdinger, came in about four hours later, but Cliff Shaw's Crowther 10m Rainbow corrected out in their division. Dirk Husselman's C&C 110 Xpression was the first singlehanded monohull to finish; Daniel Willey's Nauticat 44 Galaxsea corrected out to first place singlehanded overall. The last boat, Brian Cline's Dana 24 Maris, finished on Sunday, but many dropped out in the harsh conditions. Autopilot failure was cited by many skippers.

South Tower Race winners
The winning crew of the South Tower Race, l-r: Dan Courter, Steve Plummer, Bob Plummer, Grant Kiba, and Jimmy Plummer. © 2018 Marvin McDougal

Only three boats started this year's South Tower Race on Friday, from Stockton Sailing Club to the Golden Gate Bridge and back: George Sirogiannis' Merit 25 Froggy Duax, Steve Plummer's Catalina 30 Cloud Nine, and Don Quinly's Cal 2-27 Sweets 3, which had to drop out.

Summer and Smoke in the pink
Pat Patterson's crew on the Beneteau First 36.7 Summer and Smoke was in the pink last Wednesday. © 2018 Martha Blanchfield / RenegadePR

"On June 19, three Vallejo YC divisions of rose-colored sailors streaked past the start line and down the channel for the second annual Pink Sail," reports Martha Blanchfield. "An opportunity to put the boys (and girls) in pink while raising funds for charity, this year’s pass-the-donation-jar tally rose to a hair under $300." Club Social Director Liz Lorenzana said, "We love seeing our macho helmsmen and deckies come in the front door wearing pink." The Ship's Store helped those in need of appropriate attire while donating a portion of sales to the cause. "We hope other clubs will host similar events to raise funds for cancer research," added Lorenzana.

Scott Buckstaff, Corey Lynch and Sammy Shea from San Francisco YC won the Rose Cup, a U.S. youth national match racing championship held in the Elliott 6m on June 19-23 at Sail Sheboygan, WI, thus qualifying for the Governor’s Cup at Balboa YC in Newport Beach on July 16-21.

A pair of West Coast Star sailors are among the ten 2013 inductees into the Sailing Hall of Fame. The late Tom Blackaller made his name as a two-time Star World Champion and three-time America's Cup competitor. Bill Buchan has been sailing Stars for 54 years and has three World Championships to his credit. Frank Butler, who founded the Catalina Yachts, is another West Coast inductee. For more, see

- latitude / chris

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