And The Last Shall Be The First

March 15 - Atlantic Ocean

Sometime this weekend, Yves Parlier and his Open 60 Aquitaine Innovations will cross the Vendée Globe finish line off France, completing the singlehanded race around the world. Parlier will be the last of the finishers, but first in seamanship. You may remember that while chasing the race leader on December 17 in the stormy Southern Ocean, Innovations jibed wildly several times, resulting in her carbon fiber mast snapping in two places. When Parlier vowed to continue all the way to the finish, even his most ardent admirers figured he'd come to his senses in a couple of days. They underestimated the man.

As was reported in Latitude's February 'Sightings', Parlier jury-rigged a 40-foot section of the mast, set a quadruple reefed main, and sailed to Stewart Island at the southern tip of New Zealand. He then anchored, and, to make a long story short, over a period of weeks he used incredible ingenuity to fabricate a 60-foot carbon fiber mast - see the accompanying photo - from the broken parts. Then - and this is almost beyond belief - he singlehandedly managed to step the mast - see the other accompanying photo - without any outside assistance. It was an astonishing feat that required 17 hours of work. This jury-rig held fast to Cape Horn and now almost all the way up the Atlantic Ocean. We don't know about the rest of you, but when Parlier crosses the finish line, we'll hoist a drink to a man who is the definition of intelligence, courage, perseverence and resourcefulness. Yves, you are 'Lectronic's sailor of the year - if not the decade. We salute you.

Photos Courtesy Thierry Martinez

Blue Water Medal Winners

March 15 - San Francisco Yacht Club

World cruisers Roger Swanson and Gaynelle Templin are seen here striking a pose in the cockpit of their Bowman 57, Cloud Nine, while holding the Cruising Club of America's Blue Water Medal. It was recently awarded to them in recognition of their extensive world explorations under sail. Swanson has 170,000 sea miles under his belt after cruising for nearly 20 years. Cloud Nine has sailed to some of the world's most remote locations, including two trips to Antarctica and an attempt at the Northwest Passage. Check out the April issue of Latitude for the details.

Photo Latitude/Andy

The Race

March 15 - The Atlantic Ocean

Cam Lewis and Team Adventure are sailing past the Canary Islands into 25 knots of wind, which is not the most comfortable point of sail on a cat. A press report explains:

"Onboard, it would seem that sleep is something of a problem. After the 'To sleep well, you have to be very tired' comment from Jean-Yves Bernot yesterday, at noon today Larry Rosenfeld explained that "the bunks should be lengthened and padding added because the shocks against the bulkheads cause at least knocks and bruises and could even lead to broken ankles." Broken ankles, not a normal sailing hazard.

Photo Courtesy Jacques Vapillon

Cruising Tuscany


March 15 - Tuscany, Italy

We're not sure if it's the same everywhere in the Bay Area, but here in Marin, everybody seems to have a near fatal case of 'Tuscany envy'. Everybody wants their house to look like it was right out of Tuscany, pretend they're living like Tuscans, and naturally wishes that the weather here was like it is in Tuscany in the summer. We say the heck with all this posturing, if you like Tuscany, why not cruise it? To that end, we recommend Italy's third largest island, Elba, located just a short distance off the mainland halfway up the 'boot'. We arrived at Portoferraio from Monte Carlo late one night in June of '94 with a hole in Big O's exhaust system. We quickly discovered that Elba wasn't a good place to find boat parts, but that it was a lovely and unspoiled island despite the fact it lives on tourism. Our next stops were Marciana Marina, where we dropped the hook near the harbor entrance for free, and Campo Nell'Elba. Our big mistake was that we didn't stay several weeks, but rather hauled butt to Rome to catch a plane back to . . . work. What were we thinking?


Marciana Marina, Isola d'Elba
Photo Courtesy F. Ceccanti

Campo Nell'Elba, Isola d'Elba
Photo Courtesy Vannucci Ivana

Portoferraio, Isola d'Elba
Photo Courtesy A. Regoli

How Important Is Crew to Cruising Boat Performance?

March 15 - Cruising Circuit

Consider this: In last year's Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, Baradozig, an Outremer 55 catamaran finished in 15 days and 20 hours, the 18th fastest boat. Yet Gryphon, another Outremer 55 catamaran, finished in 21 days and 13 hours - despite motoring for 16 hours - and placed 200 positions behind her sistership in the standings. There were many similar examples in which monohulls sailed 15 - 20% faster than sisterships. As always, crew is critical, particularly when it can cut nearly a week off a transocean passage.


March 15 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? Check out YOTREPS - 'yacht reports' - at

Weather Updates

March 15 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out

California Coast Weather

Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.:

Pacific Sea State

Seas are normal in the Pacific. But you might check out the Pacific Ocean sea states at:
For another view, see

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