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Photos of the Day: Sir Robin Finishes Velux 5-Oceans

May 4 - Bilbao, Spain

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, aboard Saga Insurance, arrived in third place of the final leg of the Velux 5 Oceans.
©2007 onEdition

The America's Cup trials aren't the only sailing excitement in Spain these days. Yesterday, 68-year-old Sir Robin Knox-Johnston finally finished the Velux 5 Oceans Race in Bilbao. He is currently in third but will probably be bumped to fourth when local hero Unai Basurko finishes tomorrow.

You may recall that this is the second solo round-the-world race for RKJ. He won the very first one (the nonstop Sunday Times Golden Globe, later known as the BOC Challenge and Around Alone) in 1968-69 aboard his 32-ft double-ended ketch Suhaili. This one was a bit different. Sailed on an Open 60 called Saga Insurance and often hamstrung with electronic or gear troubles, he completed the roundabout in 159 days, 12 hours, 42 minutes, knocking 153 days off Suhaili's time. (But falling well short of the 74 days and change when he co-skippered the 93-ft cat ENZA with Peter Blake on a record-setting nonstop run around the world in 1994.) For a bit more perspective, when he was sailing Suhaili around, current Velux 5 Oceans winner Bernard Stamm was a 5-year old kid growing up in Switzerland.

Sir Robin looks as happy as if he'd placed first.
©2007 onEdition

A bit Sir Francis Chichester, a bit John Glenn, Knox-Johnston is really a sailor and adventurer for the ages, and we join those saluting him.

- latitude / jr


Final Puddle Jumpers Set Sail

May 4 - Eastern Pacific Ocean

Pacific cruising veteran Bob Bechler has been a very busy guy since we last saw him in early March. While other members of this year's Pacific Puddle Jump fleet were happily shoving off from the Mexican mainland for French Polynesia, he was ripping out his engine, having it rebuilt and reinstalling it - which necessitated sawing out a sizable chunk of his Gulfstar 44, Sisiutl.

Bob and his crew finally headed west Saturday, however, which puts them at the back of the pack. No worries, though, as he definitely knows the way after making three similar crossing in recent years.

Along the way, Bechler will be gathering crossing data and anecdotes via email in order to write a recap article on this year's crossing. Many of this year's Jumpers are expected to take part in a special PPJ rendezvous in Tahiti on June 6, called the Tahiti Tourisme Cup.

Bechler celebrating the equator crossing on his last trip to Tahiti.
Photo Courtesy Sisiutl
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Meanwhile, at least six boats are known to have crossed directly to Hawaii from the Mexican mainland this year including Anna, Adagio, Pacifica, Rogues Scholarship and Cutthroat. "Perhaps we should call that trip the 'Hola to Aloha Run'," says Bechler.

- latitude / at

Louis Vuitton Action and Inaction Continue

May 4 - Valencia, Spain

The two top dogs duke it out.
©2007 Gilles Martin-Raget

Racing off Valencia was canceled on Thursday as storm-strength winds raked the courses of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the challenger elimination series for the 32nd America's Cup. But as this series comes down to the wire, there is plenty of excitement in the air. Just this morning, the two leaders, BMW/Oracle and Italy's Luna Rossa Challenge, met for the first time in Round Robin 2. Luna Rossa led out of the blocks but Oracle's Chris Dickson pulled ahead after going right at the leeward gate, while Luna Rossa's James Spithill went left. The American boat won by 19 seconds. Emirates Team New Zealand is currently in third place, while Spain's Desafio Español is holding strong in fourth. Only the top four boats get to advance to the semi-final round which begins next week.

At this point, China Team, United Internet Team Germany, and the Italian +39 Challenge have all been mathematically eliminated from occupying that fourth spot, though all are new teams who pretty much knew their fate going in and hope to be back next time to do better.

Also on the precipice are South Africa's Team Shosholoza, Sweden's Victory Challenge and Italy's Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia. Both Shosholoza and Victory Challenge would have to win all their remaining races and Desafio Español would have to lose all theirs for either team to get fourth. However, Mascalzone, with 16 points to Desafio's 21, is still very much in the running, and both those crews will be sailing for all they're worth in the next few days. For all the Louis Vuitton action, see www.americascup.com.

- latitude / jr

Latitude 38 eBooks Now in PDF Format

May 4 - Mill Valley

Starting with the May issue, Latitude 38 eBooks will be PDFs, to be viewed with Adobe Reader, rather than FlipBooks requiring FlipViewer. We posted the new issue late yesterday afternoon, and so far the response has been running 4 to 1 in favor of the new format:

"Mahalo! I never could get FlipBooks to work so just gave up. I really prefer the PDF eBook." - Judy

"I signed up for the eBook version of Lat38, but the software created a serious problem on my (work) computer, so I uninstalled it. So, I never actually read any issues with it! I look forward to the PDF version." - John

"What a fantastic improvement in your e-publishing. I was frustrated enough with the flipbook format that I was ready to cancel my subscription and hadn't been reading the magazine for the last few months. This is certainly a better, more universal, and more user friendly format for publishing your books." - Mark

"This is awesome, more user friendly than the Flip Books!" - Tracy

But . . . if you're a subscriber and you find that you really hate the new eBook format, email the Webmistress and she'll send you a refund for the unused portion of your subscription. If you're a subscriber and didn't receive the Password for the May issue, the Webmistress can help you with that too. She can also be reached by phone at (415) 383-8200 x103.

eBook subscriptions are a bargain - $18 a year - half the price of a third class snail-mail sub. See www.latitude38.com/ebooks.html for more info.

- latitude / cw

Eight Bells: John Davis

May 4 - Alameda

We're sorry to report that local sailor John Davis passed on unexpectedly last Saturday. An Island YC member and avid Bay racer, he had just spent the day in the boat yard preparing his Laser 28, Peggy Sue, for this weekend's Vallejo Race, and we understand that he was as eager as ever to race with the SF30 fleet again this year.

John Davis
Photo Courtesy Davis Family
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

"His many weekends sailing in races on the Bay joined by his two good buddies, Tim Mettier and Kevin Martin, definitely made life complete," says his wife, Peggy. John sailed in the SF30s practically from the fleet's beginning, and almost always on Laser 28s. He was the main trimmer on Joan Byrne's Laser 28 Takeoff, and later owned Jonathan Gutoff's Stink Eye before buying Peggy Sue (which he named for his wife). Last summer, he fulfilled his life-long dream to race to Hawaii when he joined the Lessley family on their Cal 40 California Girl for the 2006 Pacific Cup. They won Div. A and finished seventh overall.

John lived life to the fullest, remembers Peggy. In addition to having a passion for the water, he was an avid rock climber, downhill skier, backpacker and hiker - clearly a man of many interests. "Passing at 60 years is and was, too young, but he was no bystander in life," she says.

Peggy notes that John wanted to be remembered sailing off into the sunset, and as such, no services are planned. Fellow SF30 sailor George Ellison has proposed that the SF30s honor John this weekend by flying 3-ft white pennants from the spreader flag halyard on the way to and from Vallejo. "John would feel terrible if he prevented anyone from missing a day of sailing, much less his beloved Vallejo Race," George wrote to the fleet earlier this week. "We will sail, and we will take John along. He is probably there already."

- latitude / ss

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