While we’re not sure about the stars and the planets, the major weather systems in the North Atlantic are aligning for Francis Joyon as he lines up IDEC for a final approach into Brest. Joyon split the Azores archipelago, riding the band of favorable southwesterlies flowing between the Azores High and the two low pressure systems to his north. The latter are pushing the high to the southeast, significantly shortening the number of miles Joyon needs to sail to stay in the favorable breeze, and creating an almost direct shot toward Brest. Joyon is on the throttle again, averaging about 20 knots and reeling off near-500 mile days despite the increased likelihood of pitchpoling with the deep angles he’s sailing the 97-ft trimaran.
At this pace Joyon should finish sometime Saturday night, which would put him under the 60-day mark with more than two days to spare, and a truly remarkable 13 days ahead of Ellen MacArthur’s standing record of 71 days, 14 hours. That is, of course, if Joyon can keep the weary IDEC together, successfully navigate an area with a big concentration of vessel traffic and avoid unidentified floating objects along the way. Despite his proximity to the finish, this one is far from over.
If you’re a frugal cruiser, it’s great to cruise on a boat that used to race as a class or whose sail dimensions are the same as a one design or popular racing class. That’s because racers usually have garages full of sails that are no longer capable of winning on the race course, but have many great years of service left as cruising sails.
If anyone out there has a medium to large Cal 40 headsail wasting away in their garage, we know a terrific young woman in the South Pacific who would love to buy it on the cheap. That person is Liz Clark of Santa Barbara, who is two years into her sailing and surfing safari aboard the Cal 40 Swell. Liz explains:
"I’ve been ripping more than waves down here in the Tuamotus. I did my first real upwind passage in the trades — 120 miles tacking against 15-25 knots! In the last 20 miles, I got hit by a 35-kt squall, and didn’t get my roller furling headsail in fast enough. RIIIIIIIIIIIP! My big headsail got three 4- to 5-ft horizontal tears. I limped into port on a small jib. I have now repaired the torn sail. It wasn’t without getting carpel tunnel in my right thumb and forefinger, plus having a cat pee on it, but that’s life when you’re cruising.
"The important thing is that I’m in the market for a new roller-furling headsail. A new one just isn’t in my budget, so I’m wondering if there are any Cal 40 owners in Latitude‘s readership whose older but still serviceable roller furling headsail in their garage they’d be willing to sell cheap. My dad, who lives in San Diego, could pick it up, which would then give him the perfect excuse to come out here to visit me.
"Anyway, I am still in the Tuamotus — shhhh, don’t tell Immigration — but I plan to leave for Christmas Island within the week. It’s going to be tough to leave this place, as I’ve got a perfect little coral lagoon anchorage next to the pass where a beautiful right-hander just won’t stop breaking. Plus, I’ve made some awesome friends at one of the pearl farms. But I have to get out of his area, both because of tropical cyclones, and also because of bureaucratic reasons.
"No matter what, I wish everyone great sailing and cruising in ’08!"
If anyone has a sail that might be a good deal for Liz, they can contact her through us by email.
The Corinthian Midwinter Series is the biggie of the Bay. Not only do these two full weekends of racing, raft-ups and partying fun in January (19-20) and February (16-17) attract the largest fleets of any midwinter races (140-150 boats are anticipated this year), they can also boast the fourth largest fleet of any event all year long (behind the Three Bridge Fiasco, Vallejo Race and Great Pumpkin, in that order).
At presstime Friday morning, the ‘armada’ had been divided into 17 divisions, including one design classes for Express 37s, J/109s, Beneteau 36.7s and J/105s, Alerion Express 28s, as well as ‘almost’ one design classes for ‘All Catalinas’, SF 30s and Multihulls. There are daily trophies, overall trophies, team trophies, dinners, breakfasts and music Saturday night by Lorin Rowin’s Left Coast All-Star Band. The first divisions start at noon and so far it looks like there will be lots of sunshine and decent breeze.
The CYC Mids is a come-one-come-all event that is a terrific way to brush off the cobwebs and kick in a new year of sailing the Bay. We hope you signed up for it. If not, be sure update your PHRF certificate and do so next month. For more, log onto http://race.cyc.org/midwins.html.
"I was a bit surprised last week when one morning I had three new emails from ladies I didn’t know," writes Marc Hachey of the Auburn-based Peterson 44 Sea Angel which is now in Dominica. "Each of them said they had read about me in ‘Lectronic Latitude. A day later I got to read the item myself. Had I known it was coming, I would have made a couple of changes.
"First off, the heading would have read: ‘Any Ladies Looking for Sailing and Adventure?’ By no means would I have advertised for ‘Romance’! If later on, after I got to know a lady, ‘romance’ entered the picture, I would not chase it away. I prefer to get to know a lady first and develop a friendship before I even think about romance.
"I have met other captains who have told me straight up, if a lady comes to sail with them, they expect the lady to share their berth. That’s not me! I make it perfectly clear before any crew even makes plans to join Sea Angel they will be staying in their own private V-berth, and have their own head. My personal cabin, berth and head, are in the aft of the boat. That’s where I sleep and have my personal space which, as with their personal space, must be respected. This is important in such a confined area as a boat.
"I would love to have compatible female crew aboard Sea Angel to share this fantastic lifestyle, but please, I don’t want any women thinking about joining me for the ‘romance’, because if that develops at all, it takes months. Prospective crewmembers should come for the sailing, hiking, exploring, living aboard a cruising yacht, and getting a hands-on feel for the local culture. I don’t think they would be disappointed."
To contact Marc, send him an email — he doesn’t check it every day so don’t be disappointed if you don’t hear from him for awhile.
We’re writing a report on January 4’s whopper of a storm for the February issue of Latitude, including some amazing photos taken in the midst of the mayhem. We know most folks’ hands were busy holding on for dear life, but if anyone was able to shoot off a few frames, we’d love to see them. Email them to JR for possible inclusion in the magazine.