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A Destination Like No Other

March 4, 2015 – New Zealand

Mongo at anchor in the Bay of Islands
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Ronnie Simpson's San Francisco-based Cal 2-27 Mongo anchored in one of the Bay of Islands' hundreds of great anchorages

© 2018 Ronnie Simpson

With spring right around the corner and the Pacific Puddle Jump fleet preparing to set sail across the Pacific, it’s never too early to begin thinking about where to spend ‘the season’. From December to March, the South Pacific experiences its cyclone season and while there are several options as far as where to keep the boat, each coming with its own varying levels of risk and bureaucratic complexity, nowhere is more popular than New Zealand. From the laid-back cruiser’s paradise that is the nearly-tropical Bay of Islands to the snow-capped Southern Alps, with endless possibilities in between, the isolated yet thoroughly modern island nation is a destination like no other.

Baby orcas swimming alongside Mongo

Two baby orcas swimming about a meter away from Mongo while the boat was docked in the marina at Opua last November.

© 2018 Ronnie Simpson

There’s perhaps no better place to work on a boat than New Zealand. Heck, even Larry Ellison chooses to do as much of his boat work there as America’s Cup rules will allow, and the country boasts more boat owners per capita than anywhere else on earth. With boatyards, chandleries, marinas and skilled labor everywhere you look, it’s no wonder top-end race programs, superyacht owners, and even budget cruisers choose New Zealand for their new builds and maintenance refits. Foreign-flagged vessels have an even bigger incentive to head to the ‘land of the long white cloud’: There are absolutely no fees for most yachts to clear customs, you can keep the boat in the country for two years at no charge, and all marine goods and services are tax-exempt, meaning that foreign cruisers save 15% on everything, including berthing and moorage.

Whether it’s on the water or off of it, New Zealand has a lot to offer the visiting cruiser and, with the #1 industry's being tourism, the country just begs to be explored from top to bottom, and there’s all of the infrastructure in place to allow you to pretty much do whatever you want. Inexpensive cars and camper vans are readily available for rental or purchase, and with stunning scenery, unspoiled nature, fertile waters, and friendly locals, you won’t regret saying, "Kia Ora Aoteroa" ("Hello New Zealand") come November.

- ronnie simpson

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Classy Deadline the 15th

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Racing Round-Up

March 4, 2015 – North America

Shawn Bennett and his team on the Catalina 37

Shawn Bennett, sailing for SFYC and StFYC, battles Russ Silvestri of StFYC in the California Dreamin' Long Beach Stop.

© 2018 Rick Roberts

Shawn Bennett of Tiburon won the Long Beach Stop of the 2015 California Dreamin’ Series over the weekend. The ISAF Grade 3 match racing regatta was hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club on the Long Beach Sailing Foundation’s fleet of Catalina 37s. Bennett and crew Craig Healey, Andrew Lamb, Keith Ives, Daniel Gorman and Tyler Prentice edged out local favorite Dustin Durant on a tiebreaker when they tied with 11 wins each. They sailed under cloudy skies in 8-14 knots of breeze against seven other West Coast teams. The next and final stop in the series will be at St. Francis YC on March 21-22.

L2O and Primordial sloop with spinnakers flying

Alex Huang's J/29 L2O and Henry Kleinberg's Express 37 Primordial Sloop cross jibes in Race 1 of SeqYC's 2015 Single/Doublehanded Series.

© 2018 Anja Bog

Sequoia YC's Single/Double-handed Series kicked off on Saturday. Eight boats joined the race out of Redwood City, with three sailing singlehanded and five doublehanded. "Winds of 5-10 knots and sunshine made for great racing and spinnaker viewing," said race director Anja Bog, "while all around the South Bay, the clouds stacked up. Raindrops started falling two hours after the last racer finished." We'll have more on the weekend's San Francisco Bay racing in the April issue of Latitude 38.

West Coast boats competing this week at Bacardi Miami Sailing Week include the J/70s Loki owned by SFYC's Matt Frymier, Jim Cunningham's Lifted, also from SFYC, and Bruce Golison's ABYC-based Africa; Viper 640s F.N.G. from Long Beach owned by James Sears and Carson Reynolds' Bolt from Newport Beach; Orinda resident Randall Miller's M32 cat Miller Racing; Star sailors Paul Cayard of San Francisco and Brian Terhaar on Marrackesh, Mark Reynolds and Magnus Liljedahl from SDYC on Quantum, and Larry Whipple and Austin Sperry from Port Ludlow, WA, on Barablue. The 170-boat regatta runs through Saturday. Entries come from 15 countries.

Tomorrow is the start of the 23rd annual Banderas Bay Regatta for (mostly) cruisers, based out of Paradise Marina. Thirty-two boats have signed up for the three-race — two short, one long — series. While we haven't done an exhaustive comparison, and the concept of the event is 'fun racing', it seems like one of the most competitive fleets ever.

Roller Coaster downwind

Racing in last year's Banderas Bay Regatta with all the serious offshore cruising gear in evidence was Scott Schreiber's Peterson 44 Roller Coaster from San Rafael.

© 2018 Banderas Bay Regatta /

Among the 'sleepers' in the fleet are Fred Roswald and Judy Jensen's Seattle-based Wings, which they've used for a 19-year circumnavigation. A Serendipity 43, Wings was a hot IOR boat. Ketches usually aren't much of a threat around the buoys, but Barry and Sylvia Stompe's Sausalito-based Hughes 48 Iolani, which they're about to sail to French Polynesia, is always well sailed. Ben and Lucie Mewes, another couple from the Bay Area, could also surprise with their Van de Stadt 41 Georgia. Two other top competitors are Door Anderson and his Jeanneau 40 Bright Star and Patsy Verhoeven's La Paz-based Gulfstar 50 Talion. You can be sure that La Reina del Mar, who will be sailing to the South Pacific next spring, didn't come all the way from La Paz to look at a bunch of transoms. Banderas Bay is known for moderate breezes, flat water and tropical temperatures.

Sharing the same dates and the same latitude, but at the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, is the Heineken Regatta. This huge event — more than 200 boats are expected, several the best in the world in their classes — is going to feature strong winds, big seas and wild partying. We'll have a report on Friday.

- latitude / chris

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Stand Out in the Crowd

March 4, 2015 – Cyberspace

Latitude 38 T-shirts and hat
Show your colors with Latitude logowear!
Photo Latitude / Annie
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC /

There's no better way to stand out in a crowd than by wearing a Latitude 38 T-shirt, available in an array of fruity colors plus basic black and white. Choose your favorite color in our online chandlery. While you're at it, pick up an extra for your ditch bag — they make great signal flags!

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Ta-Ta Again This Summer?

March 4, 2015 – Santa Barbara to Catalina

Three Ta-Ta boats approach the entrance to Channel Islands Harbor at the same time. The Ta-Ta is rally-style cruising, not racing, so spinnakers are optional. 

Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

“Is there any chance there will be another SoCal Ta-Ta this summer?” asks Kevin Belcastro.

Just to make sure everyone understands, the SoCal Ta-Ta is a Southern California version of the Baja Ha-Ha. We hosted the first one in 2012, skipped 2013 because of the America's Cup, but had a great second Ta-Ta in 2014. The fleets have been between 35 and 45 boats, which is just perfect.

The Ta-Tas have started in Santa Barbara in early September, spent two nights at Santa Cruz Island, one night at Channel Islands Harbor, one night at Paradise Cove or King Harbor, and the last night at Two Harbors, Catalina. Last year we had a great kick-off dinner on the beach at Santa Barbara YC, with Ta-Ta hats and shirts, a BBQ at Channel Islands Harbor (where everybody but a few cats got free berthing), cocktail parties three nights aboard Profligate, and a potluck/slideshow finale at Two Harbors.

We had good sailing conditions for the first Ta-Ta, and absolutely superb sailing conditions last year, with everything between 8 and 28 knots of wind. We can’t promise we’ll have sunshine every day and no fog again this year, but September often has the best cruising weather of the year in Southern California.

If there is sufficient interest in a third Ta-Ta this September, we'll be more than happy to host it again. After all, it's the best time of year to cruise in Southern California, and we'd be sailing that same course anyway.

So if you're seriously interested — the entry fee is $270 per boat — let us know, and we'll decide by April 1 if there will be a third one.

- latitude / richard

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