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Classic Coastal Cup

June 10, 2015 – Santa Barbara, CA

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Onboard the SC52 Prevail, former Latitude 38 racing editor Rob Grant trims the A3 spinnaker while Hilary Walecka grinds, owner Bill Guilfoyle drives, and legendary Santa Cruz Sails — now Ullman Sails — sailmaker Dave Hodges trims main.

© 2018 Ronnie Simpson

Encinal Yacht Club’s famous Coastal Cup has been on the endangered list for years. Low attendance, an inconsistent and oftentimes inconvenient destination, and an increasingly busy racing calendar contributed to the cancellation of the race in 2014 and made 2015 a 'definite maybe'.

While this year's fleet was small, with just seven starters and six finishers, the sailing was classic Coastal Cup. Similar to a West Coast version of the Sydney to Hobart Race, though much shorter, Coastal Cup comprises three distinct stages. After starting in an iconic sailing harbor, San Francisco Bay, boats must work away from the coast before completing a long and oftentimes windy and gear-breaking offshore leg to Point Conception. Once around the point, the race can turn into a shifty and notoriously light inshore-style leg through the Santa Barbara Channel that rewards local knowledge. To survive the Coastal Cup is one thing, to win it is another thing entirely.

Wednesday's 'small boat' start was the clear winner of the weather lottery, leaving San Francisco in blustery conditions with strong coastal northwesterlies allowing the three-boat PHRF C fleet to get down the coast in a hurry.

Snafu on port; Plus Sixteen on starboard and reefed

Snafu ducks Plus Sixteen at the small boat start on Wednesday, June 3.

© 2018 Fred Fago

Paul Disario’s Olson 911 Plus Sixteen and Karl Robrock’s Moore 24 Snafu battled for the lead early, while Mark English’s Moore 24 SC Mas! struggled to hold the pace. Once offshore however, Mas! popped up the symmetrical reaching kite and lit the afterburners to pull out a commanding lead. The ULDB's Yellowbrick tracker pinged speeds consistently in the teens, peaking at 17 knots around midnight. Snafu posted similar speeds as the two ran away from the bigger, heavier Olson 911 with ease. Entering the Santa Barbara channel with up to 32 knots of breeze and more long and wild 17-knot surfs, the boats were on a near-record pace to reach the barn before becoming becalmed for nearly four hours within sight of the finish line. Mas! held on to beat Snafu by an hour and a half, winning PHRF C and easily winning overall over the Thursday starters, which had decidedly slower conditions.

Mark English and Ian Rogers

Ian Rogers (left) and Mark English (right) hold the perpetual trophy for Coastal Cup Line Honors. The other three engraved plaques visible in the photo are for the Open 60 O Canada in 2011, and the SC70s Holua (2012) and Retro (2013). Little Mas! finished in 43 hrs, 29 mins, 35 secs.

© 2018 Jane Watkins

The big boats in PHRF A started a day later with light air outside the Golden Gate and a northwesterly that shut off halfway down the coast. Bill Guilfoyle’s Santa Cruz 52 Prevail battled early with Mark Dowdy’s Santa Cruz 50 Hana Ho and Simon Phillips' Farr 40 Astra before legging out on the competition. Alex Farell’s turbo 1D35 Alpha Puppy started late and could never quite challenge the leaders. Astra pulled into Santa Cruz with gear failure. Prevail prevailed over Hana Ho for the division win but corrected out well behind every Wednesday starter.

Astra and Hana Ho

Astra and Hana Ho at the big boat start on Thursday the 4th.

© 2018 Fred Fago

Relaxing under the warm Southern California sun in the idyllic setting that is Santa Barbara, racers swapped stories, wined and dined at a Santa Barbara YC Crab Crack, and then partied the night away in local music venues with everyone in attendance asking the same question: "Why does a race like Coastal Cup attract only seven boats?" This is perhaps the single best offshore race on the West Coast, run by a great PRO, James Vickers, and two of the finest yacht clubs in existence. There's no reason 20+ boats shouldn't be duking it out next year.

- ronnie simpson

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Blanca Was No Odile

June 10, 2015 – Baja California Sur

Unlike last fall’s devastating Hurricane Odile, former Hurricane Blanca did no significant damage to boating interests in Cabo San Lucas or La Paz when she passed by to the west on Sunday.

One powerboat crewmember in Cabo reported that even at the height of the storm, when it was blowing about 40 knots, some vendors were still trying to hawk souvenir trinkets along the perimeter of the marina.

Glenn Twitchell and Debbie Jahn of the Newport-based Lagoon 380 Beach Access, who hunkered down in La Paz, reported gusts to 45 knots and moderately strong winds continuing to blow 24 hours later. But they’d seen more than 45 knots in Newport Beach, so it wasn’t a big deal. Most boats had been well prepared, so there wasn’t any significant damage.

Greg King of the Long Beach-based 65-ft schooner Coco Kai was making his 18th trip north from Cabo when Blanca started chasing him. It caught them while Coco Kai was abeam of Mag Bay, about 175 miles north of Cabo. King, who is completing a nearly 9-year circumnavigation with the schooner, headed to the west and hove to. After a minor roughing up, they were able to continue north.

If there was any significant damage from Blanca, we’re unaware of it.

Perhaps the oddest thing of all was the crew of the steel sloop Corazon de Acero sailing onto La Paz a day or so before the arrival of what had been downgraded to a tropical storm. It was odd because they’d sailed two days from a place that was under no threat of tropical storm conditions to one that was. And when we said they sailed “onto” La Paz, it’s because they missed the entrance channel and ended up hard aground, as much as 45 degrees over, right in front of the crowds on the malecon. Mike Rickman and Shelly Rothery Ward of the Peterson 44 Avatar responded, as did Will of Shaman. With halyards led from the sloop’s masthead to the dinghies pulling the boat over, her keel popped free, and she took off under the power of her jib in the gusty winds — nearly capsizing Will and Mike in the dinghies being dragged behind.

There is a greater than 60% chance a system-to-be down around Tehuantepec will form into something.

Photo Courtesy NOAA
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Meanwhile,, perhaps the premiere hurricane watch website for Mexico, is showing a graphic of weather down around Tehuantepec that has a 60% chance of forming into a tropical disturbance. Before anyone gets their sailing shorts in a twist, the ultra-long-range possibilities on what might happen are shown in the second graphic. Something to be watched, but at this point not to be worried about.

 But even if it does form into something, computer models don't create much cause for concern.

Photo Courtesy NOAA
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / richard

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June 10, 2015 – San Francisco Bay

© 2018 /

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Racing Round-Up

June 10, 2015 – West Coast and Beyond

windsurfer at the mark

The San Francisco Bay Challenge attracted 26 kiteboarders and 12 windsurfers over the weekend.

© 2018 Chris Ray /

Local hero Johnny Heineken won the Foil Kite division of St. Francis YC's San Francisco Bay Challenge over the weekend. His sister Erika was the first female finisher, placing fourth overall. The windsurf division winner, Xavier Ferlet, was born in France and lives in the UK, but he cites San Francisco Bay as one of his favorite windsurf spots.

Gold Country YC's Go for the Gold Regatta for 48 boats on June 6-7 enjoyed wind in the teens on Saturday, and all divisions got in four races. Sunday's breeze was lighter but sufficient to get in two or three more races depending on division.

Lake sailing in the forest

Light-air sailing on Sunday at the Go for the Gold Regatta on Scotts Flat Lake in the Tahoe National Forest.

© 2018 Gold Country YC

Long Beach YC’s Dustin Durant won the San Francisco Perpetual Challenge Cup Saturday against San Francisco YC’s Shawn Bennett, allowing the SoCal club to retain the 120-year-old trophy they won from SFYC last year. Defenders LBYC hosted Saturday's event, sailed in Catalina 37s with 8-13 knots of breeze.

One of the attractions of the 750-mile Race to Alaska from Port Townsend, WA, to Ketchikan, AK, is that it permits human propulsion in addition to sail power. The 50+ participants came up with all manner of novel ways to try to exploit this unusual rule. Alas, what’s being made perfectly clear is that a fast sailboat is faster than anything augmented by human propulsion, as Team Elise Piddock's F-25C trimaran, skippered by three-time Singlehanded Transpac vet Al Hughes, is simply cleaning everybody’s clock with an enormous lead that didn't come from rowing or pedaling.

Tracker capture

This morning's tracker positions in the Race to Alaska. Note that Team Elise Piddock is all alone in the upper left corner west of Dawson's Landing, BC.

© 2018 Race to Alaska

Those battling for a set of steak knives, the prize for finishing second in the R2AK, are all traditionally fast sailboats: the Hobie 33 Por Favor, various Farrier trimaran designs, and an ancient Warrior 29 catamaran sailed by a trio from Oakland. Norton Smith, about whom we reported on Monday, and crewmate Piper Dunlap, have fallen off the pace. Apparently their modified Hobie 20 hit something hard, and they have had to stop to make repairs.

In the Volvo Ocean Race, the all-female SCA team has been leading Leg 8 from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France. As of this morning, they had a little more than 100 miles to go.

Richmond YC will host the first Pacific Offshore Academy this Saturday. Those interested in next summer's Pacific Cup are encouraged to register for the preparation seminar at The cost is $30.


- latitude / chris

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