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VOR Finishes Leg 6 in Auckland

February 28, 2018 – Auckland, New Zealand

After more than 20 days at sea, Team AkzoNobel sailed into Auckland, New Zealand, just 2 minutes and 14 seconds ahead of race-long rival Sun Hung Kai/ Scallywag to claim victory in Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race. In what was one of the closest finishes in the history of the VOR, the two boats paced each other all the way from Hong Kong — more than 6,500 nautical miles — including when both boats made a gutsy navigational call to head north, making negative VMG while off the eastern coast of Taiwan.

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Bright lights, medium-sized city. Turn the Tide on Plastic heads into Auckland after a devastating fifth-place finish.

© 2018 Volvo Ocean Race

Just twenty minutes astern of the two leaders, the racing was no less close and ferocious as third through fifth place — MAPFRE, Dongfeng and Turn the Tide on Plastic, respectively — were separated by just six minutes, with Team Brunel finishing in sixth place, still less than two hours behind the leg winners.

"It's been a 6,500-mile match race; it's unreal," said AkzoNobel skipper Simeon Tienpont. "I've never sailed a race like this in my life. We've always been in each other's sights. They were always there. It's been neck and neck. Huge respect to Scallywag, they never stopped fighting and we never stopped defending. I'm so proud of our crew. They never flinched."

Leeward weight! Leg 6 wasn't all full-speed drag racing.

© 2018 Volvo Ocean Race

While the Dutch skipper was clearly elated with the team's first win in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race — especially given the controversial manner in which their VOR started — Briton Dee Caffari was almost surely heartbroken watching her Turn the Tide on Plastic team slip from third to fifth in the final moments of the race. Having been some 60 miles ahead of Dongfeng and MAPFRE with less than 24 hours to the finish, her team remained helpless when the fleet ran into a ridge of high pressure on the approach to the finish, allowing Dongfeng and MAPFRE to come roaring back, gaining ground at every check-in. "We're gutted; I don't even know what to say. We had a good race, and we thought we were going to have a better result. But those pesky red boats always seem to get it their way," said Caffari at the dock.

Team Dongfeng eases their way into New Zealand.

© 2018 Volvo Ocean Race

Now that the fleet is in Auckland (and ready to head back into the Southern Ocean), they will undergo their most extensive maintenance cycle of the entire race, with the boats being essentially rebuilt over the next two and a half weeks. Halfway around the world and with a showdown with Cape Horn scheduled for Leg 7, no stone will be unturned in the quest to keep every boat operating at 100%. Now in Auckland, Vestas/11th Hour Racing is scheduled to rejoin the fleet after their tragic collision upon approach to Hong Kong. Despite scoring no points in the last two major legs (and the brief, 1-point 'transitional' Leg 5), the Danish/American team remains in a tie for fourth place on the leaderboard and is just three points astern of third place Sun Hung Kai/ Scallywag.

The light-air action saw professional sailors providing the most expensive leeward rail meat in the history of the sport.

© 2018 Volvo Ocean Race

The next leg will take the fleet 7,600 miles from Auckland to Itajai, Brazil, and is one of the three legs in this race that is a "double-points" leg, creating a "make-or-break" scenario for teams such as Vestas/11th Hour Racing, who are desperately hoping to gain back some valuable points on the fleet. Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race will start on 18 March.

- ronnie simpson

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Classy Deadline the 15th

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'Nitro' Upends Sailmaking Science

February 28, 2018 – Redondo Beach, CA

As many sailors know, the higher up you go the stronger the wind, which means the wind speed at the top of your mast is usually stronger than at deck height. In an insightful moment, Matt Bartley's J/33 Nitro, racing in last year's King Harbor Yacht Club beer can series, took advantage of this knowledge to put their maximum spinnaker sail area up where the wind is stronger. We're wondering if more people will take advantage of this breakthrough.

Up where the wind is, Nitro's innovative spinnaker hoist is drawing and they must be doing well as there are no other boats in sight!

© 2018 'Nitro's' Best Friend

It remains top secret so, just between you and us, there are follow-up experiments going on using the same technique with the main. We appreciate Matt's 'best friend' sending in the photo but, because this remains top secret, we'll keep his name out of the news.  

- latitude / john

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Ad: Northrop & Johnson 'Lydia' for Sale

February 28, 2018 – Alameda, CA

© 2018 Northrop & Johnson /

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March Offshore Racing Preview

February 28, 2018 – Pacific Ocean

The cruising division of the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race will start tomorrow, with additional starts on Friday and Saturday. Considered a large number by recent standards, 30 boats are entered to sail the 1,000 miles. The fleet ranges in size from the 1D35 Fractions to Rio100, and includes the ORMA 60 trimaran Mighty Merloe and Steve Meheen's new-to-him 2014 Botin 80, El Cabrón, formerly Karl Kwok's Beau Geste.

Mighty Merloe

H.L. Enloe's Mighty Merloe, seen here at the start of the 2016 PV Race.

© 2018 San Diego Yacht Club

Many entries in the PV Race stick around for MEXORC, which will run March 10-14 on Banderas Bay. They include the 70-footers Peligroso and Runaway and 52-footers BadPak, Patches and Vincitore.

Traditionally a competition for cruisers, this year the Banderas Bay Regatta on March 20-24 will introduce a racing class for ORR-rated boats. They'll continue to offer classes for cruisers and multihulls.

Like last year, the Bay Area Multihull Association's Doublehanded Farallones Race will offer concurrent courses that stop short of the ultimate rounding 'mark'. From the start at Golden Gate YC, the duos will have a choice of rounding:

  • Southeast Farallon Island, 58-mile course
  • The #46026 Weather Buoy, 39 miles
  • Ship Channel Entrance Buoy G7, 15.5 miles
  • The boundary line between Point Bonita and Mile Rock, 8 miles
SE Farallon Island

A Wyliecat 30 and a J/120 round the Farallones. Last year's DHF was a mellow one.

© 2018 Pat Broderick

Safety equipment and education requirements vary depending on the course chosen. The deadline to enter is Wednesday, March 21, and a skippers' meeting will be held that evening at Oakland YC in Alameda. The race itself will be on March 24.

We'll highlight some March inshore races in this space on Friday.

- latitude / chris

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Sail a Small Boat Day This Saturday

February 28, 2018 – Point Richmond, CA

Putter about in a small boat or two or three — or as many as you can squeeze in — this Saturday, March 3, at Richmond Yacht Club's Sail a Small Boat Day. The list of boats and paddle craft available to try out is so long we won't try to include it here, but we will point out that it ranges from 8-ft prams up to 20-something-ft keelboats.

Laser and other small boats at the dock

"Who wants to try this Laser next?"

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Volunteers will facilitate the process from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the club's turning basin. All skill levels are welcome. Representatives from some of the fleets will be on hand to impart additional information and share their enthusiasm.

boats in the harbor

Trying out small boats in the Richmond Harbor.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

No need to bring your wallet, as the event is free (even the hot dogs are free), but do bring clothes that can get wet — and some dry ones. Also bring your favorite lifejacket; if necessary you can borrow one from the lost and found bin. If you're under 18, no problem, but bring a parent who can sign a waiver for you.

- latitude / chris

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