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Soloists Set Sail

June 26 - San Francisco Bay

Andy Evans' Olson 30 Foolish Muse gets some breeze off Angel Island. Dwight Odom on Na Na is just behind.

Sixteen intrepid singlehanders answered starting guns on Saturday off the Corinthian YC in Tiburon for the start of the 2006 Singlehanded TransPac. Next stop, Hanalei Bay, Kauai, 2,120 mile and - for most racers - about two weeks away.

As ever, entries in the West Coast's longest singlehanded race are an eclectic bunch: a philosophy teacher, retired physician, software engineer, sailmaker and retired general. The latter is Ken Roper, who is on his ninth Solo TransPac in the same boat, his Finn Flyer 31 Harrier. At 77, Ken is the 'grand old man' of this year's race - but don't say that to his face.

Ken 'The General' Roper starts his, ahem, ninth Solo TransPac. While other 77-year-olds are merely existing, Ken keeps active sailing and scuba diving all over the world.

Other boats to watch: Phil Macfarlane's Ericson 35 Sail A Vie. Phil is the '04 defending champion. Although he's sailing one of the race's oldest boats (SAV was built in 1971), Phil is a tenacious competitor who last time went sleepless for three days straight at the end, tweaking every bit of speed out of the boat.

Al Hughes is another racer to watch. Sailing this year's biggest boat, the Open 60 Dogbark, Al could well be the one to set a new monohull record if he gets the breeze. Having raced in the '04 event for the first time, Hughes, of Seattle, 'knows the ropes' this time around and plans to push the boat harder. The current monohull mark is 10 days, 22 hours, 53 minutes, set by Ray Thayer's Wild Thing - also an Open 60 - in 1996.

Daily updates, logs and positions are charted on the sponsoring Singlehanded Sailing Society's Web page (www.sfbaysss.org, click on Singlehanded TransPac), so it's easy to follow the race. We'll also run updates here on 'Lectronic Latitude, and of course bring you full coverage of the race in the August issue of Latitude 38.

Paul Woodward already gets the long distance award - he came from North Carolina to do the race. His boat, a modified Kirby 23, is also this year's smallest entry.

Longtime local singlehander Synthia Petroka sails her first Solo TransPac on the Hawkfarm Eyrie.

Mark Deppe steers his impeccably prepared custom J/120 Alchera out the Gate in his fourth Solo TransPac.
Photos Latitude/JR

Some Good News out of Mexico

June 26 - Cabo San Lucas, BCS

According to Enrique Fernandez, Temporary Import Permits can now be obtained in Cabo San Lucas. This was a problem last year, as the procedure for paying the fee was undergoing a change, but that's apparently all in the past.
In addition, Fernandez reports that Mexico's plan to require AIS (Automatic Identification System) units on all boats over 33 feet is history.

Old Friend Randy West: Bermuda Race Winner

June 26 - Hamilton, Bermuda

The centennial running of the Newport-Bermuda Race turned out to be a drifter for the 264 boats that set off for the Onion Patch on June 16. The big winners were Peter Rebovich's Cal 40 Sinn Fein in the amateur St. David's Lighthouse Division; Richard Shulman's IMX 45 Temptress in the Grand Prix Gibb's Hill Lighthouse Division, and line honors winner Bella Monte, a Judel-Vrolijk 67 that beat the pre-race favorite, the new 98-ft Kiwi maxi Maximus, first across the finish line.

But the biggest round of Latitude applause goes to old friend Randy West, who guided the Carpenter 65 Van Ki Pass to a division win in a star-studded class of gold-platers. Well done, mate - the next time we see you the drinks are on us.

And They Said She Wouldn't Last

June 26 - Tropea, Italy

But after doing the Baja Ha-Ha, Ruth Ellison has been cruising around the world for eight years with her husband Buddy aboard their California-based Hans Christian 48 Annapurna. Last summer they were in Italy, where they were surprised to find the food wasn't that impressive - at least not compared to the meals they began to enjoy in Corsica, which, of course, is French. Nonetheless, the couple had really enjoyed the previous winter they'd spent at Tropea, a "typical small southern Italian hill town." More on all that in the August issue of Latitude 38.

Photo Courtesy Annapurna

Kiwis Taking No Prisoners in Valencia

June 26 - Valencia, Spain

The 12th and final Act leading up to next year's America's Cup regatta continued over the weekend, with a handful of upsets, including Sweden's surprise victory over defender Alinghi by 21 seconds. But the real story thus far is the inspired performance of Emirates Team New Zealand, which through Sunday was undefeated and atop the leader board with a perfect 8-0 record.

More and more it appears it'll be a three-boat race to determine who will challenge Alinghi next June, with Luna Rossa, BMW Oracle Racing, and Team New Zealand all vying for the right. There were more than a few skeptics when Kiwi offshore legend Grant Dalton was given responsibility to right the New Zealand America's Cup ship after it was dismantled by Alinghi in the 2003 Cup. After all, Dalton was a round-the-world specialist, what did he know about the rarefied air of close-course match racing? But it looks like Dalton's gruff, no-nonsense management style has struck a chord. Can a return to New Zealand's glorious Cup run be in the offing?

USA 87 raced against Italian team + 39 in the fourth day of Louis Vuitton Act 12.
Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

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