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Photo of the Day: Sydney-Hobart Preview

December 22 - Sydney, Australia

Pre-race favorite Wild Oats XI racing earlier this year in the Med. If it's this wet there, what's it going to be like crossing the Bass Strait?
Photo Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex

A cold, wet race is predicted for the 79 entries in this year's Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race - hardly ideal conditions for the 61st running of the 630-mile Southern Hemisphere classic, which starts December 26. Meanwhile, other forecasters - namely, the oddsmakers - are predicting that defending line and handicap winner and race record holder Wild Oats XI (with Oakland-based BMW Oracle Racing mast/pitman Rodney Daniel on board) will put in a repeat performance. But not without a challenge from Grant Wharington's turbo-charged Skandia; the Kiwi 99-ft Greg Elliott design, Maximus; 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race winner ABN Amro One; and the recently modified Volvo 70 Brunel (now called a Jones 70 and racing under the name Ichi Ban). One boat not putting up a fight this year will be 2004 line honors winner Nicorette. Renamed Diabetic this year, the 90-ft maxi boat dismasted during a practice sail six days before the start. Better close to home than out at sea.

Complete coverage, including live boat tracking, is at www.rolexsydneyhobart.com. We'll also have an update in the December 29 edition of 'Lectronic.

- latitude / ss


Winter Solstice to Summer Sailstice: The Countdown Begins

December 22 - The Tropic of Capricorn

We called down to the Southern Hemisphere and sure enough, they said the sun did pull a U-turn and is headed north. The winter solstice occurred yesterday at 1622 hours PST, with the sun touching the Tropic of Capricorn and beginning its six-month journey to the Tropic of Cancer. Of course, it heads north so we can all celebrate Summer Sailstice on the weekend of June 23-24 ­ the longest sailing days in the Northern Hemisphere.

Now is a good time to connect with your club, class or fleet and plan next summer's activities, including a celebration of sailing on Summer Sailstice. For Bay Area sailors this includes Treasure Island Sailing Center's Summer Sailstice Celebration. What's on your calendar for June 23-24?

Still got your calendar handy? This seems as good a time as any to remind our readers that our office in Mill Valley will be closed on December 25 and 26, and on January 1. Our next edition of 'Lectronic will appear on Friday, December 29, which is also the day the January issue of Latitude 38 and the 2007 Northern California Sailing Calendar and YRA Schedule will hit the docks.

- latitude / ja & cw

Money and Age, Two Bogus Obstacles to Cruising

December 22 - Oceanside

We've always argued that money is almost never a real obstacle to cruising. Want proof? In the spring of '03, Bob Germann of Oceanside departed Nova Scotia for San Diego via Panama, with lots of stops on the way. His vessel of choice? A 27-ft wood St. Pierre schooner-rigged dory.

As for age being an obstacle to making such a trip, Germann is 81 years old.
As you might expect, he enjoyed a million adventures on his three-year, 10,000-mile trip. We'll have a major feature in the February, not January, issue of Latitude 38.

- latitude / rs

Join Us in the Caribbean this Winter

December 22 - San Francisco Airport

As a combination Christmas present and 30th anniversary of Latitude 38 present, the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca have acquired the use of a Leopard 45 catamaran in the Caribbean for much of this winter. We always love having folks aboard for the fun and to help defray the expenses, so we'll be doing a bunch of charters, some all cruising, and a combination of fun racing and fun cruising. By the way, the Leopard 45 was designed specifically for those purposes, and has four double cabins with heads en suite. We're looking to do as many of the following events as possible:

January 18-21 - St. Martin Classic Yacht Regatta, a relatively new classic regatta at the half-French, half-Dutch island that has become the yachting center of the Caribbean. A couple of days in St. Martin, a couple at Anguilla, and a couple at St. Barth - what a trifecta!

March 1-4 - Heineken Regatta, St. Martin. Three days of trade wind racing for everything from charterboats to the hottest racing machines. 'Race hard, drink hard, shag hard' is the motto of the Heine, one of the top fun regattas in the world. We intend to race one-design with the other Leopard 45s, then head over to St. Barth to recover.

March 26-29 - BVI Spring Festival, a fun race to the the Bitter End YC to play with all their toys and get ready for the BVI Spring Regatta which follows immediately afterwards. Great sailing and party fun in one of the most mellow sailing areas of the world.

March 30-April 1 - BVI Spring Regatta, slightly more serious racing, but the perfect follow-up to the Spring Festival.

March 31 - St. Barth Bucket. Gentleman's racing for folks with boats between 100 and 200 feet, but limited by space to the first 30 to sign up. It's great spectating on the water and on the quay, and the island itself is so sweet.

April 5-9 - Bequia Easter Regatta, great fun racing at a charming little island. Not a suitable venue for those opposed to subsistence whaling.

April 19-24 - Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, the great classic yachts from around the world gather for one of the premiere classic regattas in the world. It's at least as much fun for spectators as participants, and many spectators are asked to crew.

April 29- May 4 - 40th Antigua Sailing Week. This is the event that inaugurated the concept of sailors racing, drinking and flirting in the hot and humid Caribbean. This year multihulls are being welcomed once again after being banned for 25 years after D. 'Bad Boy' Randy West t-boned Mistress Quickly with his multihull. There should be a Leopard 45 one design class, and we hope to be there. The event is not appropriate for people who don't like crowds or rum, and/or who don't have the stamina to last for an entire week.

P.S. For you folks who do everything at the last minute, there's also room on the cat, named Petit Profligate for the winter, at St. Barth over the wild and wonderful New Year's festivities.

- latitude / rs

You could be here

or here

or dining on tartar

or listening to this guy play music

or relaxing on a tranquil beach.
Photos Latitude/Richard

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