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December 28, 2007

Rosebud Leads in Rolex Sydney Hobart

Former Northern California computer whiz — Vallejo, Berkeley, the Peninsula —  Roger Sturgeon and his nearly new and first-ever STP 65 Rosebud have put in an impressive performance, having finished fourth and being the corrected time leader in the 605-mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. For those looking for context, the Sydney to Hobart, along with England’s Fastnet Race, are the two great middle distance races in the world.

Roger Sturgeon’s fantastic STP 65 Rosebud, seen here during this fall’s Big Boat Series, is currently in the lead on corrected time in the Rolex Sydney Harbor Race.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Here’s the latest from the Rolex Sydney Hobart website ( "When owner Roger Sturgeon was told he is the clubhouse leader (the boat others will have to beat), he was elated. “Wow, that’s the first I’ve heard. There were a lot of things going on out there. We used every sail, and probably used up half of them. We saw one of everything except your famous 40 knots. Upwind, downwind, no wind, strong wind, planing, surfing . . . we had it all. We must have done a hundred sail changes, there was always something going on.”

Sturgeon hopes his success in his first Rolex Sydney Hobart will boost interest in the STP 65 class. “We proved that you can take these boats anywhere, and be top of the game. Hopefully when I come back, we’ll bring a lot of 65s with us. That would be a lot of fun.”

Jack Halterman (left) crewed for Isobel and Roger Sturgeon during the Big Boat Series as well as Sydney Hobart.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Rosebud‘s chances of holding on to corrected time honors were hurt badly by being nearly becalmed for hours a short distance from the finish. Nonetheless, she still averaged 11.6 knots for the course. Major players on the boat are Northern Californians Jack Halterman and Malcom Park.

Wild Oats XI heads for their third consecutive First to Finish honors.

© 2007 ROLEX/Carlo Borlenghi

First to finish honors in the race went to Bob Oately’s 98-ft Wild Oats XI, which took first to finish honors for a record-tying third year in a row. Mike Slade’s new Farr 98, City Index Leopard, which recently broke the Fastest record, pulled to within four miles of Oats at the finish, but still crossed second.

Joyon and IDEC Approach Cape Horn

The last several days have seen brilliant French singlehander Francis Joyon and his 97-ft trimaran IDEC face the worst conditions to date in his quest for the singlehanded around the world record. First, he was required to sail among icebergs at a 20-knot clip. You can imagine what it was like trying to rest in such circumstances. Then there have been horrific conditions in the last 1,000 miles to the Horn. As best we understand it, he even had to strike his main entirely for about half a day. Putting it back up in his already drained state was, as you might imagine, a monumental physical feat.

Joyon has had to dodge icebergs in heavy winds (the red arrows indicate 40 knots of wind speed). He’s expecting to round the Horn today.
©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Having sailed 3/4s of the way around the world, and expected to round the Horn tonight, how does Joyon measure up? At the top. Current record holder Ellen MacArthur took 45 days to cover the same distance with her 75-ft tri B&Q Castorama that Joyon and IDEC have covered in just  33.5 days. Indeed, the only person/crewed boat to have bettered Joyon’s time is Bruno Peyron and his 125-ft cat Orange II, which, with the help of a full crew, was just three days faster.

After the Horn, Joyon will face the difficult decision of how to start the last 7,000 miles up the Atlantic. It’s a place where much of his time could be lost due to areas of high pressure.

Indeed, Thomas Coville, who is chasing Joyon with his 105-ft tri Sodebo, has fallen victim to light winds in the South Atlantic and is having a tough time of it.

New Latitude and YRA Calendar Out Today

The January issue of Latitude 38 and the 2008 Northern California Sailing Calendar and YRA Schedule hit the docks today. Grab your copies for some great New Year’s reading — a retrospective of the 1982 Cabo storm, a report on the Sausalito YC Midwinters, blasting on Banderas Bay, cruising the NorCal coast and a shipload more — and the most comprehensive listing of races on the Bay, which will be invaluable if your New Year’s Resolution is to sail more.

Have You Ever Wondered How . . .

. . . individuals can fund — or partially fund — America’s Cup campaigns that cost $150 million, and still have enough left to own 450-ft giga motoryachts?

The answer turns out to be ‘very easily’ if you’re in the league of Larry Ellison, the man behind Oracle, the BMW Oracle America’s Cup teams, and the 450-ft Rising Sun.

Using the two guards on the aft starboard side for perspective gives you an idea of how big Rising Sun really is.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

With Oracle having just turned in another blockbuster quarterly report — $1.2 billion profit — we decided we’d nose around the public records of insider transactions, to see what kind of compensation the officers — namely Mr. Ellison — were getting. It was a mind-blower:

December 19 — $6,880,000

December 19 — $20,940,000

December 18 — $6,880,000

December 18 — $21,010,000

December 17 — $6,880,000

December 17 — $20,970,000

December 14 — $6,880,000

December 14 — $21,280,000

December 13 — $6,880,000

Well, it went on and on and on like that until our printer ran out of paper. So it seems as though Ellison, if he wanted to, could pick up the tab for an entire multi-year America’s Cup campaign with a week’s stock options, and Coutts’ $15 million yearly salary in less than a day. Yep, that’s what you can do if you own 1.2 billion shares of a company that trades at $22+, having just gotten a 6.5% bounce from the good earnings report.

Some people hate all the super rich. Not us. We think you have to admire Ellison, a former Islander 36 owner, for two reasons. First, he makes all his money by saving other companies even more money, not by hoarding a scarce resource such as oil or copper. Second, he’s as rich as he is because when starting Oracle, he had the skill and courage to resist all the venture capitalists who tried to throw millions at him. As a result of being willing to postpone immediate financial gratification, he managed to keep nearly 20% of his company’s stock, which allowed him to become phenomenally rich over the longer run. Always thinking ‘long’ is a good lesson for everyone, both in personal finances as well as sailing.

When Heather sees something she wants, she makes sure she gets it. Capricorn Cat
©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC Heather ‘I’ll never do retail again, not even at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’ Cosario sort of looks like she’s dumpster diving.
Javier de Muns, our man in Brittany with his finger on the pulse of solo around the world racers, filed this report: "Last Monday’s weather window, with 40 to 50 knots wind, big seas, and an air temperature of 30 degrees seemed to have done the trick for Thomas Coville  and his 105-ft trimaran Sodebo, as they are already in the warmer latitudes of the Canary Islands, having averaged 20 knots since the start.
The day after Christmas (December 26) means the shopping is a faint memory, the presents are opened, the house is a mess and you’re ready for a little sailing ‘content’ in your life.
Doña de Mallorca and a new acquaintance sitting in front of Hilda’s Taco Stand in Turtle Bay.
In an effort to allow our staff to finish (and, in some cases, start) their Christmas shopping, and then to recover from the Big Day itself, ‘Lectronic Latitude will be on vacation until December 28.