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And Away He Goes

May 19, 2014 – San Diego, CA


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Some people like nothing better than to be alone on a vast ocean in a small boat. Webb Chiles is definitely one of those sailors. © 2017 Steve Earley

"Unless you hear from me otherwise before 9 a.m. Tuesday, Pacific Time," writes five-time circumnavigator Webb Chiles, "I'm gone."

As reported in the current edition of Latitude 38 magazine, Chiles, now 72, will attempt to be the first to sail around the globe in a Moore 24 — his called Gannet. He will set sail tomorrow for Hilo, Hawaii, then make his way across the Pacific to New Zealand, where he'll decide whether to continue west or turn east for a Cape Horn rounding in 2015.


Chiles' solo style isn't for everyone, but his feats and the books he's written have been inspirational to sailors and armchair adventurers alike. © 2017 Steve Earley

You can follow the 24-footer's track here, and learn more about this amazing sailor at his website. We wish him the very best of luck.

- latitude / andy

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New items in Our Chandlery

Classy Deadline the 15th


Weekend Racing Wrap-Up

May 19, 2014 – San Francisco Bay and Beyond

It was a wild and windy couple of days of racing on San Francisco Bay this past weekend. Saturday delivered the season's first real wind with true summer-like conditions. Winds were reported in the high 20s with gusts in the low 30s on the Cityfront, Olympic Circle and in the Ocean.

Orion
Tom Siebel's Orion heads to the windward mark during the second race in this year's Phyllis Kleinman Swiftsure Regatta. Photo Latitude / Ross
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

On the Cityfront, St. Francis YC held the 3rd annual Phyllis Kleinman Swiftsure Regatta (Formerly the Stone Cup) inviting an array of participants. "Eighteen J/105s, three multihulls, and seven monohulls racing under PHRF/ORR dual scoring system participated in the series, with the eponymous Swiftsure taking line and corrected honors to win the overall event," says Michael Moradzadeh, the event's PRO. "Waye Koide on Encore got the ORR prize. Only Orion, Tom Siebel's MOD 70 trimaran, was able to come to the line for each race, and she flew away with the trophy for that division. Ryan Simmons and his crew on Blackhawk took the J/105 prize in close competition." We'll have a complete report in Latitude 38's upcoming June issue. Meanwhile you can read the results here.

Over on the Olympic Circle, San Francisco YC held their annual Elite Keel Regatta with 58 boats racing in eight divisions on two courses. Saturday morning's absence of wind quickly evolved into breeze well into the 20s. After two races, the third race on the northernmost course, with the Melges 24s, Audi Melges 20s, J/70s and Open 5.70s, was abandoned due to the high winds. On Sunday, the Express 27s, Etchells, Knarrs and IODs swapped courses with the smaller boats in hopes that the lee of Angel Island would offer more relief. It turned out that the breeze was downright fickle, just the opposite from Saturday. Although it blew into the 20s, light air and exceptionally shifty wind were the order of the day. Results are posted here.

On Saturday the Singlehanded Farallones race brought far fewer starters than expected to the morning's first gun. Of the 34 registered racers, 13 didn't show up at the start — probably because of the weather forecast. Of the 21 that did start, only nine finished. From all indications, conditions were very challenging. 

Jib Martens, who won the spinnaker division aboard his Worth 40 Freedom, was thanking his lucky stars as he came through the Gate in one piece. "The trip in after the Lightbucket was really gnarly for me," he said. "I had the spinnaker up from the Farallones with some really nice sailing. As I came in just north of the shipping channel, wind went from 15-20 or so (which it had been from the Farallones) to 20-30, and the seas got bigger too due to shoal/channel. Well, I had the boat in control and I was flying — surfing at over 10 knots, which is fast for Freedom...then the fun started." Read more in Latitude 38's June issue about Jib's adventure grappling with a sheetless spinnaker and an inadequate autohelm as he came through the Gate. Catch the results here.

Sausalito YC ran three non spinnaker-division courses in Saturday's Women's Skipper Regatta. Perhaps the highlight of the event was the entry of the 80-foot schooner, Freda B. The hugely over-scaled two-masted beauty was given her own start so as not to interfere with the other boats. You can read about the experience in the piece below: Schooner Galls Show Their Stuff. See results online.

- latitude / ross

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Schooner Gals Show Their Stuff

May 19, 2014 – San Francisco Bay

"Sailing changed my life," exclaimed Abby Mohan from the helm of Freda B, an 80-ft (LOA) gaff-rigged schooner. Only six years ago, she took her first sailing lesson, fell in love with the sport, quit her land job and pursued a floating career.

On May 17, the Sausalito YC hosted its annual Women’s Skipper Regatta. The charter yacht Freda B was invited to compete in the inaugural Exhibition Class. Captain Abby and 11 female crew gracefully maneuvered the 32-ton gaffer through the course, overcoming challenges such as two hours of tacking up Raccoon Straits against 20-25 knots of wind during a flood tide.  


With Abby at the helm, Alice on her right, and Marina keeping watch from atop the companionway, Freda B heads out from Sausalito. © 2017 Lynn Ringseis

The SYC race rules required only the skipper to be female, but Freda B’s co-owner Marina O’Neill chose to grace her beautiful schooner with a varied and talented team of ladies, ranging in age from early 20’s to late 60’s. Marina's partners, Paul Dinas, and the schooner's usual captain, John Bosco, were confined to the galley during the race, and were only allowed on deck to serve snacks and drinks! Alice Watts, who normally serves as first mate aboard the historic scow schooner Alma, joked that if she saw either of the guys try to come up the companionway to shout suggestions, she would pretend to play the Whac-A-Mole game and shoo them back down.

Abby handled the helm and ordered tacks and jibes with the calm authority of an old salt, yet this was the first time she had raced Freda B. Hailing from Missouri, this 34-year-old never imagined her path would lead her to the sea. When she mentioned to her sailing instructor, "I wish I could spend every day at sea," she was encouraged to apply for a deckhand position. Since then she has been working for Marina and Paul’s SF Bay Adventures for three years, and her future looks as bright as the varnish on this impeccably maintained showpiece. Did Freda B score a podium finish? No, but all aboard had a fine time.


By their enthusiasm you'd think they took line honors. They didn't, but they had a great time. Look for more boats to enter the Exhibition Class next year. © 2017 Lynn Ringseis

For details on Freda B's charter offerings, including a trip south this August to participate in San Pedro's Tall Ship Challenge see the schooner's website.

- Lynn Ringseis

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Don't Be One of the 500

May 19, 2014 – US Waters

There have been plenty of reminders lately why boating safety is a deadly serious matter. The issue of safety comes into special focus this week, May 17-23, as it's been officially designated as National Safe Boating Week — timed, of course, to immediately precede Memorial Day weekend. 

The most fundamental plea of the NSBW organizers is to wear a lifejacket whenever you're out on the water, even on calm days. Why? We'll let the stats do the talking: According to the US Coast Guard, roughly 500 people drown every year in recreational boating accidents. Of all boating fatalities last year, three quarters were due to drowning, and among those, 84% of victims were not wearing life jackets. 

While sailors are typically much more safety-conscious and better trained in basic seamanship than other types of watercraft, you don't have to look very far into our archives to find examples of deaths or near-deaths involving our sport. So better safe than sorry.

As you can see in the 2013 analysis of accidents, the top five types of watercraft in terms of greatest numbers of injuries or deaths were: 1) open motorboats (272 deaths), personal watercraft (jet skis), cabin motorboats, canoes and kayaks, and pontoon boats. The top five contributing factors to all boating accidents were: 1) operator inattention, 2) improper lookout, 3) operator inexperience, 4) excessive speed, and 5) alcohol use. Check out the complete 2013 report here

Have fun out there, but please play it safe. 

- latitude / andy

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Ta-Ta Sign-Ups Climb

May 19, 2014 – The Left Coast

Since registration began last Thursday, 19 boats have signed up for September's reggae-themed SoCal Ta-Ta cruisers' rally, meaning there are only 31 slots left until the max of 50 is reached. So if you're considering joining this Santa Barbara-to-Catalina cruise, you'd better not procrastinate too long. Event dates are September 7-13.


Ever felt like reinventing yourself? How about as a joyful rasta? If so, you'll love the reggae-themed SoCal Ta-Ta rally. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The course involves little or no upwind sailing, and no overnights at sea as it zigzags south. Beginning at Santa Barbara, there'll be layovers at Santa Cruz Island (two nights); Paradise Cove; Redondo Beach's King Harbor; and Two Harbors, Catalina. The longest leg will be roughly 30 miles.


Both large and small boats enter the Ta-Ta. Here, during Ta-Ta #1, Heidy Gross pilots her little sloop into a Santa Cruz Island anchorage. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For full details, see the website. But don't dally, or you may miss your chance to enjoy 'Reggae 'pon da Ocean'.

- latitude / andy

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May 19, 2014 – Marina del Rey, CA

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