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Velux 5 Oceans Starts Sunday

October 18 - Bilbao, Spain

Today's Photo of the Day, by onEdition, is of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, a sailing legend if there ever was one. Robin won the first singlehanded around the world race in 1968, co-skippered the cat ENZA with Peter Blake when it set the around the world record in 1993, and this weekend, at age 67, will be challenging a number of much younger bucks in the Velux 5 Oceans, a singlehanded race around the world that starts in Bilbao, Spain, on Sunday.

There are eight competitors from six countries in this edition of the race, which you might be more familiar with in its previous incarnations as the BOC or Around Alone. But this version has undergone an extreme makeover. The big change is that instead of the five or six legs of previous races, there are now only three: 12,000 miles to Perth, Western Australia; 14,500 miles to Norfolk, Virginia; and 3,500 miles back to Spain.

Boats to watch in addition to Knox-Johnston's Saga Insurance: Defending champion, Switzerland's Bernard Stamm aboard Cheminées Poujoulat, Britain's 'Iron Mike' Golding (who amazed the world by sailing the last 50 miles of the last Vendée Globe race with no keel) and Britain's Alex Thompson on Hugo Boss, a sailor so aggressive the French call him 'the young mad dog' of sailing.

Alex Thompson will be sailing the Open 60 Hugo Boss in the Velux
Photos onEdition

The sole American entry in the Velux is Maryland's Tim Troy on Margaret Anna. Like most Yanks in these big races, he's the only one sailing without a title sponsor. A real estate developer, Tim will be sailing an eight-year-old Bernard Nivelt design (launched in 1998 as Petit Navire) that is named for his two daughters.

We will be running updates of the race here on 'Lectronic Latitude, and of course in Latitude 38. You can also follow it on the excellent Web site, www.velux5oceans.com.

- latitude / jr


Two New Boats about to Launch, One Old Connection

October 18 - Portland, OR, and Newport Beach

From '86 to '89, Richard and Sheri Crowe built the sea foam green Farr 44 Confetti. Immediately after launching her, and without any real shakedown, the couple took off for Acapulco, Chile, Cape Horn, South Georgia Island, and the Caribbean. Extremely experienced and confident sailors, they do stuff like that.

In '93, wanting a boat that was capable of sailing in ice and Antarctica, they sold Confetti to Peter and Susan Wolcott of Hawaii. After sailing the boat for a few years, the Wolcotts bought a sea foam green Santa Cruz 52, did the '01 Baja Ha-Ha, and have pretty much been sailing the South Pacific ever since.

Unbeknownst to each other, the Crowes and Wolcotts are, in the next several months, going to be launching new boats. For the Crowes, it will be another Farr 44, albeit a more high-tech and modern version of Confetti to be called Tabu.

As for the Wolcotts, they went to the dark side, by having Morrelli & Melvin design them a - yes, sea foam green - 52-ft catamaran that will be named Kiapa. She's nearing completion at Steve Rander's Schooner Creek Boatworks in Portland. "Susan and I are dying to get out cruising again," says Peter.

Photo Courtesy Schooner Creek Boatworks

For more on these new boats, and the distant places the owners plan to sail them, check out the November issue of Latitude 38, due out on November 1.

- latitude / rs

Two More Great Weather Sites

October 18 - Cyberspace

For detailed wind and tide reports for San Francisco Bay, we suggest you check out www.windandtides.com.

But for all the of the U.S., the British Columbia, and the Bahamas, we really like www.sailflow.com. What a load of great information and charts, and, like www.windandtides.com, it's free.

- latitude / rs

The SF Bay Area on SailFlow
Graphic Courtesy www.sailflow.com

What about the Weather for the Baja Ha-Ha Kick-Off Party?

October 18 - San Diego

Nine-day forecasts aren't the most accurate in the world, but according to Yahoo!'s weather, it will be 67 degrees a week from Sunday, with 0% chance of rain. There is, however, a 30% chance of showers the day before.

What to do if it actually rains on the day of the West Marine Kick-Off Party at the parking lot of the Cabrillo Isle Marina? Wear your foul weather gear over the top of your costume.

- latitude / rs

Momentous Referendum on Panama Canal Expansion this Weekend

October 18 - Panama

The three million citizens of Panama will vote on whether to expand the Panama Canal in order to accommodate today's larger ships. Currently, Panamax vessels can't be deeper than 39.5 feet or wider than 110 feet. The expansion would allow boats drawing 51 feet and having a beam of 181 feet wide to use the Canal. While most of the country is in favor of updating the Canal, critics warn that the $5.25 billion overhaul may bankrupt Panama, a country that already has enormous problems with poverty. On the other hand, the Canal will not be able to handle future traffic, and faces a competitive threat from Nicaragua, which has revived plans to build an $18 billion canal, which would be a shortcut for many vessels.

- latitude / rs

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