Skip to content
February 11, 2011

The Sailing Circus

The family that soars together, smiles together. Life aboard La Loupiote is never dull.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We’ve known circumnavigating sailors who’ve replenished their cruising kitties in all sorts of ways — by working at odd jobs ashore, repairing gear for other sailors, playing music in foreign bars . . . you name it. But last week we observed a new variation: As they slowly make their way around the world, French sailors Delphine Lechifflart and Franck Rabilier perform ‘high-wire’ circus acts from the rigging of their 40-ft sloop La Loupiote — and pass the hat afterward for donations to their cruising cause.

Franck was trained as a circus performer as a kid, but gave it up to be an engineer. After he met the extremely athletic Delphine, however, the couple began practicing acrobatic routines together just for fun. Some time later they hatched the unique idea of buying a sailboat and creating special shows that could be performed from the rigging.

Why is this man sitting on his wife, 15 feet above the deck of his boat? No worries, it’s all part of the act.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Having begun their cruise in Brittany, France, in ’04, they’ve sailed thousands of miles and performed in hundreds of harbors from the Great Lakes to Martinique, west to Panama and north to Mexico. When we saw them perform last week in Banderas Bay, their two-part show had been honed to perfection. The first 20-minute segment, The Navigators, was a slapstick comedy sketch reminiscent of the antics seen in silent movies, while the second piece, Between Islands and Wings, had a sweet romantic theme. Both required great skill and timing, and were flawlessly performed, even when the wind kicked up to 18 knots.

Slender, agile and beautiful, Delphine is the perfect foil for Franck, who was trained in circus arts as a youngster.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The couple and their two lovely daughters (who are not yet part of the act) will soon head offshore to Hawaii. They’ll be in British Columbia in September for a confirmed engagement, then will head south to San Francisco where they hope to perform — as always, for donations — at a number of yacht clubs. (Email Franck if you’d like to offer to host them.)

Cup Racing Area Announced

The America’s Cup Racing area on your San Francisco Bay.


The America’s Cup Event Authority has released a map of the racing area for America’s Cup 34, and lo and behold, it looks a lot like what AC Race Management Director Iain Murray said it would back in early January. Roughly shaped like an animal cracker, the boundaries of the racing area encompass the entire Central Bay and the coolest thing about the current plan is that spectator boats will actually be able to not only be within the area’s confines, but also take a front-row spot on the Cityfront to boot! This looks like it could turn out to be a giant charlie-foxtrot, but having spectators up close and personal will make for some compelling visuals, as well as providing a sense of scale for non-boating viewers: a 130-ft tall wingmast will probably make a 130-ft mini mega yacht look pedestrian.

What’s on Your Bottom?

"I’ve loved all the warm weather we’ve had after an awful start to winter," writes Jim Knowles of the South Bay-based Catalina 30 Reggae Morning, "and have done a lot more January and February sailing than I have in my entire life. But I notice that with just a few months to go before my annual haulout, my bottom gets dirtier and stays dirtier than it does right after the haulout.

"I’d like to ask Latitude readers what kind of bottom paint they use and how happy they are with it. I’d also like to know how often they have their bottom cleaned. While I’m just a happy day and weekend sailor, it would be nice if the responses could include whether the owners have racing or cruising boats, as I imagine it could make a big difference. I also understand that it could make a difference where a boat is located, as I’m told boats in the Pacific Northwest, for whatever reason, don’t have to have their bottoms cleaned anywhere near as often as boats in California."

Great questions. Anybody care to contribute? Email your responses to Richard.


Blue Water on Yellow Pages

It looks like America’s Cup fever has taken hold all over the Bay Area, even at the telephone utilities. This year’s cover of the Marin County Yellow Pages features a nice shot of boats sailing in Richardson Bay with Mt. Tamalpais in the distance. It could, of course, be a simple coincidence that a sailing shot was chosen for the phone book, but we have a sneaking suspicion that the West Coast will see a lot more sailing-centric ads over the next two years. Hopefully such marketing will also serve to attract more people to our favorite sport.

What could be better after a day of great sailing on the Bay than to sail up to the dock of your favorite restaurant for a bite to eat?
Alas, some boat dreams end up on the bottom. latitude/Richard
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC As it stands right now, the great Esprit de La Gamelle project is as sunk as this sloop anchored not far from the Club Nautico in San Juan, Puerto Rico.