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Hugo Boss Dismasted

January 16, 2015 – South Atlantic Ocean

Hugo Boss sailing
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Hugo Boss was the most modern of eight IMOCA 60s making a mad dash around the globe in the Barcelona World Race, and the winner of the last edition.

© 2018 Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race

After leading the doublehanded Barcelona World Race for the better part of two weeks, Hugo Boss dismasted on Wednesday night in the South Atlantic Ocean, about 370 miles east of Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. The IMOCA 60 had already set a new record for the passage from Barcelona to Gibraltar in the Mediterranean and a course record to the equator.

Pre-race favorites Alex Thomson, a 40-year-old Brit, and Pepe Ribes, a 43-year-old Spaniard, estimated that they had extended their lead to about 60 miles when the rig came down in a moderate easterly and big seas.

Both sailors were on deck making a headsail change when they believe that the central pin in the headsail furling drum sheared, leaving the mast unsupported from the front of the boat. Thomson watched helplessly from the bow as the mast and sails fell backward. "I looked up and instinctively I knew the mast was going to fall down," he said. "It kind of hovered there for a few seconds and then fell backwards into the water. Within a couple of minutes the mast broke in two where it was hinged over the boat. Pepe did a great job with the grinder cutting it away before the mast made a hole inside the boat in the big waves we had."

Alex Thomson on the bow of Hugo Boss

Alex Thomson explained what happened in a video that can be viewed at

© 2018 Barcelona World Race

They are now motoring to Salvador de Bahia, making steady progress at about 6 knots, with enough fuel to get most of the way to port. Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam on Cheminées Poujoulat took over the lead in the nonstop around-the-world race, which started on New Year's Eve. Guillermo Altadill and José Munoz on Neutrogena, who had been racing neck-and-neck with Stamm and Le Cam, have gone into 'stealth mode,' hiding their position from the competition and the rest of us. See for more.

BWR tracker on 1/16/15

This morning's position report shows Hugo Boss (black boat) headed for land.

© 2018 Barcelona World Race

- latitude / chris

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"My Wife Was Not Happy"

January 16, 2015 – Petersburg, Alaska

"We had a passage from hell after leaving Panama for Hawaii," reports Randal Barnhart, 69, of the Alaska-based Yankee Clipper Westwind. When we met him and his wife Carole almost a year ago at our annual Pacific Puddle Jump party in Panama, they were poised to cross the outbound track of their 15-year circumnavigation.

Our interview with Randal and Carole was one of the most fascinating chats we had during that busy day — we talked to nearly 50 crews — so we were eager to follow up via email. But they didn't get around to emailing us back until this week, having now returned to their homeport of Petersburg, in Southeast Alaska.

At last year's PPJ Sendoff Party at the Balboa, Panama YC, Randal and Carole were 'thumbs up', and ready to complete their 15-year circumnavigation. They had no idea what challenges lay ahead of them.

Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Randal and Carole did cross their outbound track on May 24, but there was no time for celebration because they were struggling to survive while in the throes of Hurricane Alvin's violent winds. The first hurricane of the Pacific season, Alvin came down on them north of remote Clipperton Island, mercilessly battering the 49-ft fiberglass ketch and her crew.

Randal explains, "We took 65 days to get [from Panama] to Hawaii in survival mode, with forestay damage, the genset down, fuel nearly gone, very low on water, our main engine starter gone bad, our emergency 500 watermaker having failed, hand steering, and with an injured ankle from a hatch slamming on it. All after the hurricane hit us with 80--knot winds. I had to use all my knowledge to get us to Hilo alive," says the retired paramedic. "My wife was not happy. On the good side, though, it was a great weight-loss program, as I lost about 35 lbs. Who said sailing is boring?"

This raucous finale to the couple's 15-year cruise was one of many wild adventures they experienced, including surviving the devastating 2004 tsunami in Malaysia, dodging pirates in the Mozambique Channel, and Randal going temporarily blind due to a diving incident. Read more about their trip in the upcoming issue of Latitude 38 magazine.

- latitude / andy

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January 16, 2015 – SF Bay Area and Cyberspace

Photo Latitude / Colleen
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC /

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Weekend Racing Preview

January 16, 2015 – San Francisco Bay Area and Key West, FL

The Corinthian Midwinters are more than a chance to race around a tricky winter course on Saturday and Sunday. The event is also an opportunity to reunite with friends you haven't seen since the summer racing season ended. Saturday kicks off with drink specials in the morning, and the racing is scheduled to start at noon. The boats will be divided into two starting areas: off the clubhouse deck and off Angel Island's Pt. Knox.

A start at Knox

A start in the Knox area in last year's Corinthian Midwinters.

Photo Latitude / Ross
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"The winds for the CYC Midwinters are looking up, with the chance of a moderate westerly developing Saturday afternoon once the morning inversion burns off," predicts Mike Dvorak of Sail Tactics. "Fortunately, high pressure over Northern California is breaking up slightly for the weekend, just enough to allow some west and southwest winds to build on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Both the Sail Tactics and NOAA forecasts agree on Saturday that a westerly will develop at some point on Saturday afternoon. The big question is at what time? The updated Sail Tactics forecast on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. should give an accurate time when the westerly will fill. The Sail Tactics and NOAA forecasts are saying light, 4- to 5-knot SW winds for Sunday. I think postponements are pretty likely both days, but more so on Saturday."

Current chart for 1/17/15

The real challenge for the weekend will be the strong ebb flowing both days. Since the ebb is counter to the forecast winds, that could help build apparent wind on the upwind legs. Still, without a significant amount of breeze, it could be quite tough to fight a 3.6- to 4.0-knot ebb occurring both days around 1:00 p.m. This image is a forecast from Sail Tactics' new tidal current forecast for Saturday at 1:00 p.m.

© 2018 Sail Tactics /

Late-afternoon kegs (donated by Pineapple Sails on Saturday and Hood Sailmakers on Sunday) will greet the returning fleet to get the party started. A $20 racers’ buffet and live music by Z and the Benders will begin in the ballroom at 5:00 on Saturday. The race committee will hand out the daily trophies around 6:00.

Somewhat overshadowed by CYC this weekend but not to be forgotten are installments in South Beach YC's Island Fever and Santa Cruz YC's Midwinter series on Saturday. Oakland YC will serve up a Sunday Brunch race on the Estuary.

Racing at Quantum Key West Race Week will begin on Monday. A quick scan of the 122-boat entry list shows four boats from California and three from Washington.

Three Bridge Fiasco start

All boats big and small mob the Three Bridge Fiasco startline off Golden Gate YC.

Photo Latitude / Ross
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Before you know it, San Francisco Bay's most popular race, the Three Bridge Fiasco, will be upon us. The skippers' meeting (and entry deadline) will be on Wednesday, January 28, at Oakland YC in Alameda, with the singlehanded/doublehanded pursuit race itself on Saturday the 31st. "You will need a 2014 or 2015 PHRF certificate unless your one-design class fields five entries," says the Singlehanded Sailing Society. "If your class is iffy on numbers, don't be disappointed — get your PHRF application in to YRA ASAP." See

- latitude / chris

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