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Spectacular Kaiwo Maru Visits the Bay

May 1, 2015 – San Francisco, CA

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

The final days of Kaiwo Maru's nearly 6,000-mile crossing from Japan saw punishing gales. Having arrived yesterday, the merchant marine training vessel will remain in San Francisco Bay until Wednesday. 

Photo Courtesy Sea Training Institute
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

When is a sailing vessel considered to be a tall ship? The unscientific answer to that question is, "You'll know one when you see it." That's certainly true of the 361-ft (LOA), four-masted barque Kaiwo Maru, which entered San Francisco Bay yesterday afternoon after completing her gale-strewn 5,400-mile crossing from Japan. 

Currently anchored in Anchorage 8 (just south of the Bay Bridge), she will pull alongside Pier 30/32 tomorrow morning, but sadly, she cannot offer public tours as she did during past visits, due to anticipated ballpark-related congestion on the Embarcadero throughout her stay. She will exit the pier at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, and depart the Bay for Hawaii. If you're out on the water then, you'll probably see dozens of cadets standing atop yardarms in the traditional 'harbor salute'.

If you're out on the Golden Gate Bridge Wednesday morning, you might catch a view like this — dozens of cadets standing atop the yardarms in a 'harbor salute'. (This shot is of Kaiwo Maru's sistership Nippon Maru, exiting the Bay in 2003.)

Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A Class A tall ship, Kaiwo Maru is one of the largest and most impressive traditionally rigged sailing vessels in the world — one of fewer than 10 four-masters that are still operational. Commissioned in 1989, and operated by Japan's National Institute for Sea Training, she travels the world instilling the time-honored techniques of marlinspike seamanship into her crew of merchant marine cadets.

With all her canvas flying she carries 36 sails, including 18 square sails that must be hand-furled from her yardarms. If you're walking the streets of the Embarcadero or North Beach this weekend you may run across some of Kaiwo Maru's 101 cadets. If so, ship's agent Catharine Hooper suggests you give them a heartfelt San Francisco welcome and "Buy them a Coke."

- latitude / andy

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Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

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Japan Is In for AC 35

May 1, 2015 – Tokyo, Japan

Japan signs on

Softbank Team Japan launches its Challenge for the 35th America's Cup. Left to right: Kou Watanabe, commodore of Kansai Yacht Club, signs with Japan's AC team leader, Kazuhiko Sofuku.

© 2018 Yoichi Yabe / Sofbank Team Japan

SoftBank Corp., headquartered in Tokyo, and the Kansai Yacht Club, based in Kobe, Japan, have signed an agreement to challenge for the 2017 America’s Cup as SoftBank Team Japan.

Kazuhiko Sofuku, 'Fuku', a veteran of four previous America’s Cup campaigns, has been appointed general manager of the team. "To lead a Japanese challenge for the America’s Cup is a dream come true,"said Fuku, who last raced with a Japanese team for the Cup 15 years ago as bowman for Nippon Challenge during the 1999/2000 Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series. "We are planning to build up our team using America’s Cup World Series events to recruit and train Japanese sailors for our crew."

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said, "Taking on this major challenge at the pinnacle of yacht races matches with the SoftBank Group's aim to be the global Number 1." Son, a 'self-made man' and the richest person in Japan, is a graduate of UC Berkeley.

The America's Cup commercial commissioner, Harvey Schiller said, “The Japanese challenge will increase interest in the America’s Cup across Asia, which is good news for all of our teams and partners.”

Oracle Team USA will provide some technical assistance to SoftBank Team Japan as it prepares for the 2015 America’s Cup World Series events, which will begin in Portsmouth, UK, on July 23-26.

- latitude / chris

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Sign up for Baja Ha-Ha XXII now!

May 1, 2015 – San Diego, CA

© 2018 Baja Ha-Ha, LLC /

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May Latitude Is Out

May 1, 2015 – San Francisco Bay Area and Beyond

The May issue of Latitude 38 is making the rounds of docks and chandleries in the San Francisco Bay Area today. You can pick yours up at all the usual places. They've been shipped to our other distributors too, and mailed to subscribers.

Cover of the May issue

Happy May Day! Celebrate with a fresh new Latitude, hot off the presses.

Photo Latitude / Annie
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you just can't wait to get your hands on a paper copy, you can indulge in a digital edition here.

- latitude / chris

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Weekend Racing Preview

May 1, 2015 – California

Registration will close at 5:00 p.m. today for this weekend's 116th Great Vallejo Race. So far, 169 boats are signed up, and the starting sequences are posted on Jibeset.

Mintaka4 in last year's Vallejo Race

Last year's race to Vallejo on the last Saturday in April was a little short on spinnaker work, with the wind mostly too far forward.

Photo Latitude / Ross
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Winds are looking superb for the Great Vallejo race," predicts Mike Dvorak of Sail Tactics. "An upper-level disturbance will deepen the marine boundary layer today, welcoming ocean breezes into the Central and San Pablo Bays. The Sail Tactics 2-Day Outlook Forecast is showing decent winds even for the Berkeley Circle start at 11:00 Saturday morning. The only potentially problematic part is 2-3 miles outside the Napa River entrance, near the Conoco refinery in Rodeo. Use the steam coming off the heat exchangers there to judge the wind direction and strength in that area as you approach," he advises.

Wind and tide will work together on Saturday for a fast race to Vallejo. This wind map from the Sail Tactics 2-Day Outlook Forecast shows winds in the Central, North, and San Pablo Bays about an hour after the start.

© 2018 Sail Tactics /

"The Napa River can be much more turbulent than Central Bay sailors are used to due to the Mare Island hills, buildings, cranes, and ships if the winds are out of the west. Puffs come and go in a matter of seconds. Catching a lift that the boat in front of you didn't anticipate is a great way to pass, which is especially important in the high-traffic conditions of the Napa River. The Sail Tactics San Pablo Bay Day-Of Forecast out tomorrow morning at 7:45, which will include the Napa River, will give details on the best route through San Pablo Bay. Similar mid-to-strong range winds are expected for Sunday's race."

Some small boat sailors will be racing bigger boats to Vallejo tomorrow, but the fleet sailing on Fremont's Lake Elizabeth this Sunday for FSC's Spring Series #1 is nevertheless expected to be substantial. See

St. Francis YC's Elvstrom Zellerbach will host a larger, more diverse fleet of dinghy, multihull and board classes on Saturday and Sunday, and entry is still open. "This year’s edition sees us sailing on a tide transition, going from a flood in the morning to an ebb in the afternoon," says Laser sailor Tracy Usher. "The forecast has the air conditioning turning back on, so tomorrow promises to be classic Cityfront conditions. Coupled with the tide situation, this weekend is going to be a downwind sailor’s dream with short beats and long runs." 

Yet another opportunity for small boats to race will be offered by Encinal YC on the Estuary tomorrow.

Santa Cruz YC will host the Monterey Bay Leukemia Cup this Sunday.

Lake Washington Sailing Club's beer can series will start next Thursday, May 7, in West Sacramento. For a complete schedule of evening races around Northern California, see our Beer Can Series page, and be sure to read our 'Beer Can Tasting' feature in the May issue of Latitude 38, which is hitting the docks today.

San Diego YC's Yachting Cup starts today, with three days of racing scheduled both in the bay and out on the ocean.

- latitude / chris

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