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Rolex Sydney Hobart Preview

December 21, 2015 – Sydney, Australia

Wild Oats at the finish of the 2014 Sydney Hobart
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

The 100-ft maxi Wild Oats XI approaches the finish line of the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart in Tasmania's Derwent River.

© 2018 Daniel Forster / Rolex

While many folks are counting the days until Christmas (there are four), yacht racing fans are counting the days until that Boxing Day classic, the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Because the race is sailed in Australia, on the other side of the International Date Line, it's also just four days away.

Rolex Sydney Hobart racecourse map

The 628-mile racecourse leads the fleet from Sydney down the New South Wales coast of the Tasman Sea and across the Bass Strait to Hobart, Tasmania.

© 2018 Regatta News /

Though the race is run entirely within the country of Australia, it generates international buzz. Among the entries of interest from abroad is Giovanni Soldini's Italian VOR70 Maserati, which readers in the Bay Area will remember from when she broke the New York to San Francisco record in February 2013. (Maserati graced the cover of the March 2013 issue of Latitude 38.)

"It is a very difficult race," says Soldini. "Bass Strait can be a very bad place to be, but there is so much competition and so many wonderful boats. It is a race at the highest level." He points out that, "It's the first time there have been 14 of us aboard Maserati. This is to make up for the fact that sail stacking, i.e. moving wet sails to windward, is prohibited, and so we need a lot of weight that can move wherever we need it."

Giovanni Soldini and Robin Knox-Johnston

Giovanni Soldini, skipper of Maserati, and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston talked to the media at a press conference with international participants on Sunday.

© 2018 Andrea Francolini /

Twelve Clipper 70s will be sailing in the Sydney Hobart while stopping over in Australia during their lap around the globe in the Clipper Race, bringing with them crew from 26 different countries. The founder of the Clipper Race, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, explained their participation. "It's a great race. The schedule of our circumnavigation ties in with it, so it is an irresistible opportunity. A no-brainer." At a press conference on Sunday, Knox-Johnston joked that "some of the crew wonder why they have to sail around Tasmania three times."

In addition to those aboard the Clipper 70s, Americans of note include the Bay Area's Stan Honey, who will serve as navigator on Jim and Kristy Clark's 100-ft maxi Comanche, with Ken Read skippering. Comanche's chief competition will be Bob Oatley's R/P 100 Wild Oats XI, skippered by Mark Richards and sailing in her home waters. WOXI holds the course record, set in 2012, of 1 day, 18 hours, 23 seconds. The recently remodeled maxi has won eight of the last 10 editions. Oatley ordered drastic modifications to his yacht to keep her competitive. A 30-ft section was cut off the bow and a new longer bow section attached. A chunk of the stern was also replaced, and changes were made to the hull configuration, sail plan and rig.

Wild Oats bows old and new

Wild Oats presented her sleek new bow on December 13. The old bow section rests to the left.

Photo Courtesy Wild Oats XI
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A third 100-footer, Syd Fischer's Sydney-based Ragamuffin 100, can be seen in the following video hitting 38 knots in the 2014 race.

The start will be streamed live via Australia's Yahoo 7 Sport, but be forewarned that last year, the live stream was blocked in the US. Our inquiry to find out if Americans will be able to watch live this year without a work-around hack went unanswered. The Clipper Race will stream the teams' departure live on Periscope via the Clipper Race Twitter page @ClipperRace.

- latitude / chris

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

Hartjoy Solos the Horn - Again

December 21, 2015 – Tierra del Fuego, Chile

A jubilant Jeff Hartjoy points to Cape Horn during his first solo rounding in 2009. He made it around safely again late last week, this time while attempting a complete nonstop solo circumnavigation — at the age of 69!

© 2018 Jeff Hartjoy

Last Friday, after 49 days alone at sea, Washington state-based adventurer Jeff Hartjoy completed his second solo rounding of Cape Horn aboard his longtime warhorse Sailors Run. This time, though, he's doing a complete singlehanded circumnavigation aboard the battle-tested Baba 40 ketch, beginning and ending at Ecuador's Bahia Caraquez.

"After 49 days and two hours, Sailors Run arrives at the most rugged and beautiful Cape in the world," he wrote in his weekly email blog, "I can barely see it even though it is less than five miles away for the tears in my eyes. I shudder when I think, I have once again been granted passage to this amazing place. It seems as though someone has caused me to linger along the Chilean coast as I beat my way to the Horn in light winds. Being slowed by nature and forced north I got to see some of the most amazing sea life, that presented itself to me as I 'worried' my way down to the Horn."

The Robert Perry-designed double-ender has served Jeff and Debbie well through more than 20 years of offshore sailing. 

Photo Latitude / Annie
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In that report, in addition to thanking friends and family for their support, especially his beloved wife Debbie — who's sailed tens of thousands of miles with him — for her shoreside support, Jeff gave a shout-out to Robert Perry "for designing such an outstanding cruising boat."

After rounding Tierra del Fuego at latitude 56°S, Sailors Run sped off toward a 3,000-mile-distant waypoint well south of the Cape of Good Hope, and soon encountered 30-knot winds that threatened to sweep Jeff off the deck while he was gluing patches on several tears in his genoa. "I could just barely reach the tears, while standing on the bow pulpit, lashed onto the furled part of the sail with my safety harness." Although it's hard to imagine in such conditions, he later was able to pull the sail off its furling tube, spread it out on the foredeck, and sew the patches on securely, "all the time sliding about on the foredeck harnessed into my jackline, and being very thankful for a high toerail, to brace myself against and stop my slide off the deck."

Needless to say, such adventures are not for every sailor. But Jeff Hartjoy is no fair-weather boater. So cheers to him. We wish him the best of luck on the remaining two thirds of his trip: nonstop, eastabout, via the Five Great Capes.

- latitude / andy

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Lighting It Up for the Holidays

December 21, 2015 – San Rafael Canal, CA

The docks of the San Rafael YC were enlivened by boatloads of colored lights Saturday night. Spectators there had a front-row seat for the parade.

© 2018 Lynn Ringseis

Apparently the weather gods were in a festive mood Saturday night, as a break in the rain was perfectly timed so that several dozen boats could show off their holiday spirit at the annual San Rafael Lighted Boat Parade. Originating from Loch Lomond Marina, the Marin YC and various docks along the city's canal, the procession headed east to the turning basin off the San Rafael YC, with observers lining the waterfront on both sides of the waterway. 

video by Latitude / Andy 

In this era of low-amperage LED lighting, the decorations this year seemed more elaborate than ever. Even the San Rafael police boat got into the act. It was great fun for observers of all ages, and there wasn't a "bah, humbug" heard anywhere along the route. 

If you regret missing the chance to participate with your boat this year, we suggest you start planning a unique display now, and commit to making a showing at this event, or one of the San Francisco region's other lighted boat parades. (San Francisco, Alameda, Sausalito, Vallejo, Petaluma, Santa Cruz, Monterey — and, of course, there are parades in SoCal and the Northwest also.)

- latitude / andy

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Taking a Holiday Break

December 21, 2015 – Mill Valley, CA

Winter has begun in the Northern Hemisphere, and with it the holiday season. 'Lectronic Latitude will take a break for the rest of this week and will return on Monday, December 28. The Latitude 38 office will be closed for Christmas on December 24-25 and for New Year's on December 31-January 1. The January issue of Latitude 38 will hit the docks on Wednesday, December 30, and the 2016 Northern California Sailing Schedule and YRA Calendar will come out the same day.

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

From our crew to yours, Happy Holidays!

- latitude / chris

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Ad: Sale Boat of the Day

December 21, 2015 – Alameda, CA

43-ft Serendipity R/C Custom, 1981

© 2018 New Era Yachts /

Doug Peterson design. This boat is exceptional!


© 2018 New Era Yachts /

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