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2004 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards

January 12 - Portsmouth, RI

Paul Foerster (Rockwall, TX) and his crew Kevin Burnham, (Miami, FL), along with Jody Swanson (Buffalo, NY), today were named the respective winners of the prestigious 2004 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards. A panel of sailing journalists selected the sailors for the distinction from the longest shortlist in recent years - 13 nominees for the Rolex Yachtsman and nine nominees for the Rolex Yachtswoman. The winners will be honored and presented with specially engraved Rolex timepieces at a February 25 luncheon at the New York YC in Manhattan.

First-time winners of the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award, Paul Foerster and Kevin Burnham were recognized for their gold medal performance at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games in the 27-boat 470 Men's event. Foerster, a four-time Olympian, and Burnham, a three-time Olympian, had both medalled in the event before, although not together.

Paul Foerster (left) and Kevin Burnham with their Gold Medals
Photos Above Daniel Forster

"I am very honored to be selected with my teammate Kevin as the 2004 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year," said Foerster. "I have admired the accomplishments of the past winners and would like to thank all of Kevin's and my friends, family and coaches who made our accomplishments possible this past year."

"It's just a great honor to have this recognition for our efforts at the Olympics," added Burnham. "To have our names grace the trophy with all the great sailors in the USA is really something."

Recognized for her second time as Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year (she first received the award in 1989), Jody Swanson earned accolades for her win of the 2004 Lightning North American Championship held at the Buffalo Canoe Club in Ontario, Canada. Sailing the August event with crew Skip Dieball and Tom Starck in conditions that ranged from drifting to 25+ knots, Swanson topped a fleet of 103 boats that included many notable sailors. Members of the selection panel remarked on "her impressive win in a deep fleet", while noting that no sailor dominates this class year-after-year.

Photo Dan Nerney

"I just love the sport and racing sailboats," said Swanson. "That is what keeps bringing me out there. Winning this award again is just as meaningful as the first time (1989) because it is such an honor. I was very honored to be nominated, and to win among this talented group of women is such a thrill."

Great Times for British Sailing    

January 12 - Cape Horn

First there was the tremendous British performance in the Olympics in Athens. Now, with less than 5,000 miles to go in the Vendée Globe singlehanded around-the-world race, Brit Mike Golding and Ecover have come from 600 miles behind about 10 days ago to take a 23-mile lead. Frenchman Jean Le Cam, who led most of the race with Bonduelle, has taken a flyer since rounding Cape Horn, but it hasn't appeared to have helped him. In fact, by tomorrow he may be 400 miles behind and will almost certainly be in third. Vincent Riou's PRB, another French boat, is in third.

Golding is a terrific sailor with a history of some bad luck. In the last Vendée, for example, he was dismasted a day after the start. He had to return home and restart a week later with a new mast, effectively out of contention from the very start. If he were to hang on and win, it would be very popular.

Above all for the Brits, there is Ellen MacArthur, who is absolutely kicking ass with her 75-ft trimaran B&Q Castorama in her assault on the singlehanded around-the-world record.

Ellen MacArthur, with Cape Horn in the background/and Moët & Chandon in hand
Photo OC/Ellen MacArthur/www.offshorechallenges.com

When Francis Joyon established the record last year with the 90-ft trimaran IDEC, it was considered one of the most astounding sailing records in history. But now MacArthur, who just rounded Cape Horn after 19,000 miles, has a stunning 4-day, 2-hour lead on Joyon's pace. Her last hours in the Southern Ocean were her roughest of the challenge, and she's severely beaten down, but things should be easier in the Atlantic. So far she's covered 19,057 miles at an average speed of - get this - 17.6 knots. Even if B&Q's mast were to fall over tomorrow, MacArthur has proven beyond a doubt that one's gender is not an impediment to stupendous sailing achievement.

Skies Clearing, Whales Migrating Along California Coast

January 12 - Pigeon Point

Pigeon Point Lighthouse
Photo Latitude/Andy

After days of drenching rain, skies along California's north coast finally began to clear Tuesday, although sea conditions were still abnormally rowdy.

Pictured here is the famous Pigeon Point Lighthouse, catching a few welcomed rays of sunlight.

Located along Highway 1, 50 miles south of San Francisco, the 115-ft brick tower has been alerting mariners to stay clear of the rocky coastline for more than 130 years. Although an automated 24-inch Aero Beacon has been in place since the mid-'70s, the original 8,000-lb Fresnel lens is still in place in the tower.

Comprised of over a thousand prisms, this 16-ft high lens was shipped around Cape Horn aboard a square-rigger, having previously been used at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Sadly, damage to the lighthouse's upper ironworks currently makes tours impossible, but the grounds are open every day.

Besides the dramatic views here, this section of the coastline is also ideal for gray whale watching between January and April. Seals and seabirds also abound here and 1,000-year-old redwoods stand in a grove nearby. Just a few miles to the south lies the Año Nuevo State Reserve, which serves as the prime breeding site of northern elephant seals.

And if all this isn't enough to make you want to stop and stretch your legs, the lightkeeper's housing has been converted to a 'Youth Hostel' - open to all ages - where you can overnight for $22 a head. (Hostel info: 650-879-0633; general info: 650-879-2120.)

Don't Get Caught in the Wrong Current

January 12 - San Francisco

When we prepared the 2005 tidal currents for publication in this year's Northern California Sailing Calendar, distributed on December 30, we went to the NOAA Web site at http://co-ops.nos.noaa.gov/currents05/tab2pc1.html#103 to collect the data. We took the figures from the 'Golden Gate Bridge' station. We later copied the January data into January's Latitude 38 Calendar. Then we discovered that our data did not match the Tides & Currents Tables - the 'Tidebook' that everyone uses. In particular, there was a dramatic difference in the speed of the ebb last weekend, which was one of the strongest of the year.

In researching this discrepancy, we have found that our data is correct, but it is not for the same station as the Tidebook uses. The Tidebook uses the 'San Francisco Bay Entrance (S. of Pt. Diablo)' station. We have also always used data from this station in the past. In further researching the two different stations, we have found that neither is actually at the Golden Gate bridge. The 'San Francisco Bay Entrance (S. of Pt. Diablo)' station is at 37º 48.63' N / 122º 30.13' W, which puts it smack in the middle of the shipping channel more than a mile WEST of the bridge. The 'Golden Gate Bridge' station is at 37º 49.75' N / 122º 27.73' W, in the middle of the shipping channel where it begins to widen, about a mile EAST of the bridge. (See chart below.)

Of course, the Current Correction Charts in the Tidebook are based on data from this more westerly station.

Currents in subsequent issues of the monthly Latitude 38 Calendar will also use data which matches that in the Tidebook.

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