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Big Boats Meet Little Wind

September 14 - San Francisco Bay

Photo of the Day
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

‘Charlie company’ (IRC-C) starts Race Two on Thursday.
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Clear skies and un-Big Boat Series-like mild breezes greeted the 112 boats that started the Rolex Big Boat Series at the St. Francis YC yesterday. This biggest of all Northern California races, featuring everything from Rosebud, the first TransPac 65, to the new fleet of Melges 32s, will run through Sunday all over the Central Bay, so if you're out for an afternoon sail, watch out.

Six Melges 32s make up the Big Boat Series’ newest class.
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

With the wind never getting above the mid-teens, the action was relatively subdued in the four IRC and six one-design classes. John Kilroy's TransPac 52 Samba Pa Ti, fresh off a come-from-behind division win in the TransPac, took two bullets to dominate IRC-A at the end of the first day. Also looking good to repeat her '06 Division win was Gerry Sheridan's Tupelo Honey in IRC-D. After two races, the top boats in IRC-B - Kokopelli 2 and Rancho Deluxe - and IRC-C - White Dove and TKO - were tied on points.

Sjambok chases Samba Pa Ti. The boats are in second and first place in IRC-A, respectively, going into today’s races.
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

In the one-design ranks, Alameda sailmaker Kame Richards and his Golden Moon crew also fired a couple of bullets in the Express 37 fleet, as did Jeff Pulford aboard Bustin' Loose in the Sydney 38s. As for the rest of the classes - J/105s (once again the largest BBS fleet with 34 boats), Melges 32s (the newest fleet), J/120s and 1D35s - it's still anyone's game. For more results, go to

Samba Pa Ti
Samba Pa Ti leads Mayhem across the Bay in Race One.
All Photos Latitude / JR
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Late last night some Northern California sailors, who feel more at ease with strong winds and big chop, were observed in a seance beckoning the wind gods for at least a day or two of conditions like the days of old, when tight-assed IOR boats would go down like bowling pins, masts would snap like matchsticks, and crews staggered into the yacht club not because they wanted a sip of chardonnay but because they damn-well needed several stiff shots of Mt. Gay.

- latitude / rs


Santa Cruz Chosen for Clipper Race

September 14 - Minden, Nevada

Officials with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race announced today that Santa Cruz has been chosen as one of the ports of call for the race, with boats scheduled to arrive on April 8, 2010. The choice of Santa Cruz is a little surprising not only because of the harbor's narrow entrance and already tight berthing situation, but also because San Francisco Bay seemed such a natural place for the race to stop. Nonetheless, we're thrilled a California port has been added to the itinerary - Hawaii was announced as a stop earlier in the summer - and will watch with interest to see how officials shoehorn the 68-ft boats into the already busy harbor.

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, slated to start from Liverpool this Sunday, was created by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in '95 to give "ordinary" folks the chance to sail around the globe on one or more legs aboard one of ten 68-ft one design boats. For more info on the pay-to-play race, check out their website at

- latitude / ld

How's the Weather?

September 14 - Halfway Between Hawaii And California

According to Danielle Dignan of the Bay Area-based Farr 44 Confetti, "It's mellow and lovely out here as we skirt the outside of the Pacific High." If the photo doesn't seem to match her description of the conditions, it's because it was taken earlier in the year when she and her husband Dan were sailing in the South Pacific.

Danielle and Dan Dignan are enjoying more comfortable conditions now.
© 2007 Dan Dignan

The couple, along with friends, started out last October sailing to Mexico, did a swing around the South Pacific, made their way up to Hawaii, and are now almost home. We'll have a report in the October issue of Latitude.

- latitude / rs

The Tall Ships are Coming!

September 14 - West Coast

The American Sail Training Association (ASTA) has announced that the 2008 Tall Ships Challenge, slated for the North American West Coast, will add San Francisco as a port of call from July 23 - 28, 2008.

The barque Cuauhtemoc sailing along the city-front in SF in the '05 Tall Ships Challenge. Built for the Mexican Navy as a training vessel for its cadets, she was named for the last Aztec emperor who was imprisoned and executed by conquistador Hernán Cortés in 1525.
Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

ASTA holds a Tall Ships Challenge Series every year but alternates between the Great Lakes and the North American east and west coasts. Each Challenge includes a series of races in which barques, brigs, brigantines, schooners, sloops, barkentines, full-rigged ships and more participate. Historically, the general public is also involved in the event - in the form of crewing or firing 'cannons' in mock battles - but details for next year's event haven't been nailed down yet. Founded in 1973, ASTA fosters youth education through their programs at sea with more than 250 tall ships and sail training vessels as members.

The 2008 Series begins in Victoria, B.C. on June 25, then sails on to Tacoma, Washington and Port Alberni, B.C. before heading to the Bay. For further information visit

- latitude / lc

Who Gets the Prize?

September 14 - Northwest Passage

Wednesday's 'Lectronic featured a story about a French team who claims to have set a record by being the first boat to transit the Northwest Passage under sail alone. We were quickly corrected by Jud Berry of the Vancouver, B.C.-based Sputnik, who reminded us that Canadians Jeff MacInnis and Mike Beedell claimed those honors way back in 1988 when they completed a sail-only passage on the highly modified 18-ft Hobie Perception. The pair spent three summers sailing, pushing, paddling and tugging their 450-lb boat across 2,500 miles of ice-clogged Arctic water, from the Mackenzie River on the west end of the Passage to Pond Inlet on the east end. MacInnis later wrote about their experiences in Polar Passage.

Jeff MacInnis and Mike Beedell spent three summers on a modified Hobie 18 to claim the title of First to Sail the Northwest Passage. Do they deserve it?
© 2007 Jeff MacInnis

So what gives? French team member Anne-lise Vacher-Morazzani told us that, while the Canadians' achievement was impressive, MacInnis and Beedell only crossed a portion of the treacherous passage, which she insists is actually 4,500 miles long. "It's not a question of affirming that we are the first, but of restoring the facts: To connect the Pacific to the Atlantic on a livable boat without engine in one season." (Thanks to Google for the rough translation from French.)

Northwest Passage
Indicated by the white line, MacInnis and Beedell began their quest at the mouth of the Northwest Territories' MacKenzie River and ended on Baffin Island. The French team began in Anchorage and ended in Nuussuaq, Greenland (yellow).
Image Courtesy Google Earth
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

While we can see Vacher-Morazzani's point - the Pacific technically borders the Bering Strait and the edge of the Atlantic rests near Nuussuaq - we aren't sure we agree that the French team deserve the title. Certainly they set an amazing record - the first boat to sail the Northwest Passage in one season - but we're still inclined to give the nod to MacInnis and Beedell. The 'official' length of the Passage is a vague and mysterious thing, and seems to depend on who you talk to. To our way of thinking, the Canadians were the first to sail the stretch of water (and ice) most people consider to be the Northwest Passage.

But we could be wrong (it's been known to happen).

- latitude / ld

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