Photo of the Day

May 5 - Richmond

If you think today's Photo of The Day is lacking in composition and doesn't fill the frame as much as might be desirable, give us a break - we were driving 65 mph across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge when we took it. Normally, we don't take marine photos while driving over the limit on bridges undergoing earthquake retrofitting, but this was a special occasion. About halfway across the bridge, we looked up toward the North Bay and noticed the ship you can see in the photo changing from a course that would take him between The Brothers and the Richmond Shore. We've never seen this before. Given the narrow channel between The Brothers and Richmond, and the shallow water nearby, we find it hard to believe it's legal. Has anybody seen this done before?

Photo Latitude/Richard

Vallejo Race Photo Essay

May 5 - Vallejo

This weekend marked the 103-year old Vallejo Yacht Club's 103rd running of the Vallejo Race, which serves as the season opener for the various YRA series.

The boats in the giant Division G started first and
got a good north wind for passing Angel Island.

Fast Forward on a close reach

Passing the Brothers Islands

On Saturday, hundreds of boats race from a starting line to the west of the Berkeley Circle, to a weather mark south of Angel island, and thence to the Vallejo YC on the Napa River. Sunday features a reverse start in the river and ends just north of the Richmond Bridge. This year's edition featured storm cells which came and went leaving lots of sunshine in between, a big parking lot off Angel Island which separated the racers into two packs, and the usual wall-to-wall bodies which gyrated on the dance floor into the wee hours at the Saturday night party.

We'll have results, more photos and a more complete report in the June issue of Latitude 38.

Blue Chip just north of the Richmond Bridge

Another parking lot off the Richmond hills

Crews scrambled to find the right sails for the conditions.

The spinnaker reach up San Pablo Bay

Photos Above Latitude/Andy

The windy finish on the Napa River
Photo Latitude/Chris

The Vacation Turned into a Grind

May 2 - Long Beach

With the May issue having gone to the printer and Sail Expo over, the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca hoped to spend the first week in May sailing around Catalina. Even if the weather hadn't been crappy, it was just not to be. Profligate's mast step needed redesign and replacement, and as you might suspect from the accompanying photo, it wasn't an easy job.

The old aluminum mast step had to be cut off and ground down from the old plate, giving the Wanderer the opportunity to spend just about an entire day attacking aluminum with a Sawsall and a grinder. It was neither easy nor fun, giving him a greater appreciation of what boatyard workers face all the time.

Of course, grinding was just one part of the job. When the main was removed from the boat, it was discovered there were a lot of minor maintenance issues with the many little fittings that make up Antal mast slides. Then the mast had to be restepped. Then all the rigging had to be redone. Finally, the wires for the electronics had to be rerun - which involved drilling two one-inch holes through three levels of thick aluminum plate and four inches of composite with dull bits. (Don't try shopping for one-inch bits on Sunday afternoons.) All in all, it was an exhausting week of physical labor and frustration, punctuated by Profligate being holed by an errant novice sailor and the bow of the rental car getting crunched.

Photos Latitude/Richard

But it could have been much worse. Had it not been for catamaran design expert Pete Melvin of Morrelli & Melvin, and Richard and Sheri Crowe of the Sailing Program at Orange Coast College, the new step wouldn't have been done right or in time. Thanks to them, we'll get to give Catalina another shot this weekend, with a new and improved - other than the hole in the hull - boat.

Schwab Saved the Best for Last

May 5 - Newport, RI

Alameda's Bruce Schwab with the Wylie 60 Ocean Planet turned in his best Around Alone finish, taking fourth in Class 1 on the final leg. Until near the end, the drastically underfunded competitor with an equally drastically narrow boat had actually been in second. Former Southern Californian Brad van Liew, as has been his custom throughout the event, clobbered everyone else in Class 2 with Tommy Hilfiger.

Bernard Stamm, of course, convincingly won the event with Bobst Group-Armor Lux. Second finisher Simone Bianchetti of Tiscali, however, had the most dramatic finish: "During his last night racing, Italian skipper Simone Bianchetti informed his shore team and the race organization Tiscali would be arriving before dawn, but he was worried about his mast because he could not take more than one reef in the mainsail and yet the wind had risen to 45-50 knots.

Tiscali a hundred yards from the finish of the Around Alone
Photo Roy Riley/Marinepics 

"His worst suspicions were confirmed at 0415 hours local time Saturday, just 30 miles from the end of a 28,000 mile circumnavigation, when in the dead of night Bianchetti heard that fearful sound of carbon cracking and came out of the cabin to find his mast had snapped just above the third spreader. Amazingly, the spar was still dangling by the threads of the halyards, with the mainsail still attached.

"Just one hour later Bianchetti called again: 'I am back sailing at 8 knots and have less than 16 miles to go. Make sure everyone is there to greet me.' With the mast upright, Simone had set his staysail and lashed any dangling parts of the rig to stop them from smacking into the boat. He was able to bear off and still make course, and with the mainsail flapping in the wind and the staysail drawing, he nursed his crippled yacht, tacking slowly across the bay and crossed over the finish line in Newport at 08:01:30 local time (12:01:30 GMT)." You can read Brian Hancock's complete report at

But Who Finished Second in the Tommy Bahama Ensenada Race?

May 5 - Ensenada, Baja California

"I was told that 'Lectronic Latitude had a brief report on the Ensenada 2003 race, and noted who the winner was and that Dennis Conner finished third," write Steve and Patti Ward.

The start in Newport
Photo Cherie Sogsti

"Some people might want to know who finished second. It was us with Spartan, our Rhodes-designed 42'3" sloop that was built right there in your backyard at Stone Boat Works in Alameda. Spartan was launched in 1960 and is built of wood. The design was so loved by the Rhodes that the lines were used for the Bounty II, the first production fiberglass sailboat, which was built in Sausalito and later became the Pearson 41. It has been a pleasure to own and sail this classic - and even better when Patti and I can beat all those high tech modern boats built without trees. Yes, wood is good!"

Thanks for the report, Steve and Patti. You may want to take it up with the Ensenada press folks why your second place finish was less noteworthy than Dennis Conner's third place finish. By the way, we're very familiar with the Bounty I design. Just before World War II they were sort of a production boat in wood and sold for about, stand back, $3,500. Not a typo. Furthermore, we started Latitude aboard our Bounty II. Anyway, congratulations!

Mmmmmm, Fresh Mussels

May 5 - Long Beach

While tied up to an end-tie at Alamitos Bay (Long Beach) this weekend, we couldn't help but notice this Asian couple cruising the marina in a small speedboat.

Photo Latitude/Richard

After furtively looking around, they tied up to the end-tie behind us, took out a flat-end shovel, and scraped a bunch of mussels from the dock and into a fishing net. As this was right before lunch, we jokingly speculated that they must own a restaurant and were about to put Mussels Trinidad - as in bottom paint - on the menu. But when they came around for more mussels later in the afternoon, we began to wonder if they might not be looking for the dinner entree.

We sure hope not. Harvesting seafood from a marina is never a good idea. And since it had just rained in L.A. - turning the once relatively clear waters of Alamitos Bay brown and strewn with plastic bags - it was about the worst time possible. Indeed, local health authorities were instructing everyone, surfers included, to stay out of coastal waters for at least three days.

So Now We Know Why the Kiwis Lost the America's Cup

May 5 - Auckland, NZ

Team New Zealand announced that the single most important cause of their losing the America's Cup to Alinghi by a score of 5-0 was management structure. We're not making this up. In a report prepared by Team New Zealand director Peter Menzies, the syndicate said all subsequent events and occurrences could be traced to the replacement management structure not delivering.

The way we saw it, Russell Coutts and the Alinghi team outsailed the Kiwis.


May 5 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? The YOTREPS daily yacht tracking page has moved to

Weather Updates

May 5 - 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

The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay is at

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 Winds and Pressure

The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds.

Pacific Sea State

Check out the Pacific Ocean sea states at:
For views of sea states anywhere in the world, see

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