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Zihua SailFest Sets a Record

February 17, 2016 – Zihuatanejo, Mexico

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Patrick and Jeann Hughes' Seattle- and Mazatlan-based wooden schooner Patricia Belle sails through Zihua Bay with a boatload of event supporters on board. 

© 2018 Margaret Reid / SailFest

We're proud to say that Latitude 38 played a role in starting Zihuatanejo SailFest in 2002. But back then we never could have dreamed that fledgling cruiser gathering would evolve into the most successful sailor-supported charity event in all of Mexico. Since the beginning, the focus of fundraising efforts has been to support the education of local underprivileged kids.

As Z-Fest celebrated its 15th anniversary last week, the efforts of cruisers, plus a dedicated group of expat volunteers, local merchants and service groups, raised a record $1,410,295 pesos ($77,000 USD), augmented by a Rotary Club grant of $795,000 pesos ($43,000 USD) to Por Los Niños de Zihuatanejo, SailFest’s registered Mexican charity.

Dwarfed by the wheel of the daysail cat Picante, this little scholar is obviously enjoying her first sailboat ride.

© 2018 Margaret Reid / SailFest

As longtime organizer Lorenzo Malbut explains, "The weeklong festivities included a welcome dance party, sailing events, concerts, a gala dinner, school visits, chili cook-off and street fair, and auctions and raffles, with gifts and services donated by more than 200 local businesses."

During three sailing events, 343 guests rode along — also a record — having made a donation to the cause.

Longtime Z-Fest supporters Richard and Gloria Bellack dole out samples of their homemade chili during the annual street fair.

© 2018 Margaret Reid / SailFest

"Perhaps first among our cruising heroes this year is the Patricia Belle," says Lorenzo, "a 66-ft home-built schooner. They welcomed aboard 75 paying guests for the three sailing events, and then invited a large group of Mexican kids and parents to go sailing for free on Sunday.

"Since 2002," explains the longtime expat-in-residence, "the SailFest partnership has built more than 90 classrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and playgrounds at underprivileged schools in low-income communities, and has awarded hundreds of academic and English-language scholarships."

These students were rewarded for their hard work in the classroom by a beach day filled with carefree activities.

© 2018 Margaret Reid / SailFest

In the planning stages this year is one of Por Los Niños' most ambitious projects to date: construction of a new vocational high school that will serve 105 at-risk local teenagers. Repeat attendees to Z-Fest such as the Patricia Belle crew and dedicated part- or full-time expats such as Lorenzo take great pride in the life-changing efforts they've made, while having a good time in the process. Lorenzo's SailFest motto: "Building a brighter future while having almost too much fun."

- latitude / andy

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Latitude 38 Crew List

Classy Deadline the 15th

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Photos of the Day

February 17, 2016 – San Francisco Bay

Jewelz at the helm

Jewelz at the helm on the way to the Gate.

Photo Courtesy Cetacea
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Captain Kerry and friends aboard Cetacea, a 42-ft one-off cutter, had some photographic fun with the setting sun just inside the Gate on Tuesday, February 9, while they enjoyed the respite between rains and cool weather. Shireen is the long-haired woman, and Jewelz is the woman in the hat.

Shireen blows a kiss

Shireen blows a kiss.

Photo Courtesy Cetacea
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Shireen with the sun in her palm

Shireen holds the sun in the palm of her hand.

Photo Courtesy Cetacea
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Jewelz holds a wine glass of sunshine.

Jewelz enjoys a glass of liquid sunshine.

Photo Courtesy Cetacea
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / chris

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Ad: North U. 2016 Seminars

February 17, 2016 – Near You

© 2018 North Sails /

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When Cruisers Become Racers

February 17, 2016 – La Paz, Mexico

Light air spinnaker start

A light-air spinnaker start to a casual race in the La Paz Channel.

Photo Courtesy Astraea
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

When do cruisers become racers? Whenever two or more of them want to! On Saturday, some habitués of Club Cruceros de La Paz enjoyed a great race after a 15-minute delay for light wind. "Then there was enough wind to fill a spinnaker so the race started," reports Nate Kraft of the Cheoy Lee 41 Astraea. "The Baja ferry came through the middle of the fleet interrupting the wind and downwind courses. As we were coming past the port at Pichilingue the wind quickly picked up. As we entered the channel there was a near pile-up of boats outside the Pemex wharf. The Catalina 42 Dad's Dreams was on a port tack avoiding the shoal while the Cheoy Lee 41 Astraea came trucking down the channel. While passing Marina Palmira Astraea caught up to the Ron Holland 43 Azure-Te' and stole their wind, but Azure-Te' pulled ahead to finish one minute sooner."

Red spinnaker past rockpile

Staying in the channel was important.

Photo Courtesy Astraea
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"We had 16 boats turn out including one power boat," adds Patsy Verhoeven of the Gulfstar 50 Talion, "so we convinced him to be our start boat. Talion slowly pulled away from the fleet and had a challenging light-air sail, finishing first just seconds in front of the Corsair F-28 trimaran Coyote. But in all fairness, I think he may have gotten out of the channel and run aground for a bit. We had the mayor of Portland, Oregon, Charlie Hale, on board as one of our crew of 10."


Puffs of breeze kept the fleet moving in the light conditions.

Photo Courtesy Astraea
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / chris

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