Last week, all eyes were on Franck Cammas and Groupama 4 as the French entry split from the other three remaining boats in leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race. Picking their way down the African coast, Cammas’ crew packed on as much as a 250-mile lead over Ken Read’s Puma, Iker Martinez’ Telefónica and Chris Nicholson’s Camper, as the latter three made signifianct westing, but no significant distance to the first mark of the course — the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha. Days later, Cammas’ risky move turned up nothing but a 360-mile deficit at a point when the leaders — Puma and Telefónica — have already blasted through the Doldrums and into the Southeast Trades. The weather looks favorable for Puma and Telefónica to continue to put up good days, with Camper poised to hang tough. Unfortunately for Groupama, it’s pretty much game over for leg one.
As we often point out, you don’t need a million-dollar yacht to access the much-envied lifestyle of international cruising. As witnessed during the recent Baja Ha-Ha rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, just about any boat built and equipped for offshore sailing can take you to the same idyllic anchorages.
This year’s fleet contained a typical variety of boat types, from vintage production-built sloops launched as early as 1959 to gleaming late-model beauties that looked as thought they’d just left the showroom floor. Without question, though, the most unique boat in the fleet was the folding catamaran called Cat 2 Fold, which is the one-off brainchild of multihull designer Kurt Hughes. Other small multihulls fold for trailering, as this one does, but we’d never before seen a cruising cat propelled by twin unstayed cat rigs — complete with wishbone outhaul tensioners reminiscent of windsurfter sails.
Add to all this the fact that owner Brian Charette trailered the curious cat all the way from his home base in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, just to do the Ha-Ha. But then Brian isn’t your typical Wyomingite. For one thing, he’s got dreadlocks down past his shoulders, he builds eco-friendly homes out of straw bales for a living, and, well, we just can’t picture him wearing a Stetson hat and hand-tooled boots.
With her ability to set her "bi-plane" sailplan in a variety of positions, including wing-on-wing, Cat 2 Fold can easily sail deeper angles downwind than most cats — including dead downwind — and she also seems to point higher than typical production-built cats.
Brian learned to sail eight years ago, but apparently really caught the cruising bug when he took a passage-making course from Charlestown, SC, to Fort Lauderdale, FL. Other than that trip, he’d never before spent a night at sea or navigated offshore. But apparently he’s a quick learner. At the awards ceremony Brian and his crew, Trent Sellens and Charlie Magee, earned the much-coveted status of Soul Sailors because they sailed the entire course of the rally, despite having to ghost through extremely light air at times. As a result, they tied for first in the rally’s Margarita Division (multihulls), sharing the spotlight with Gary Kahler’s San Diego-based Corsair 31 Drei and Herschel and Susan Pence’s Vallejo-based CSK 40 Sailpotion. For a complete recap of this year’s Ha-Ha rally, see the December 1 edition of Latitude 38 (downloadable for free from our website later that day).
The Singlehanded Transpac has long been a rite of passage for solo sailors. This bienniel 2,120-mile marathon to the tranquil shores of Hanalei Bay, Kauai runs in even years, with the 18th edition of the race set to start off Corinthian YC on June 30. In the months preceeding the start, the Race Committee offers free monthly seminars — all open to the public — on a variety of topics important to long-distance singlehanders. Tonight’s seminar, the second in the series, is ‘Power: Generation & Storage’ and will cover the most important aspects of any boat’s electrical system — batteries and charging. Doors to Oakland YC open at 6:30 p.m. with the seminar starting at 7. For a full list of upcoming seminars — or to find out more about joining next year’s race — go to www.sfbaysss.org.
We receive a surprising number of requests for help in identifying various boats. Between the collective experience of the staff and the wonder that is Google, we can usually come up with an accurate ID but sometimes we’re presented with a real challenge, such as this one from Brian Carl.
"I recently purchased a 17-ft mahogany-on-oak sloop and have no idea who built it. The sloop was built in either 1934 or 1937, depending on which paperwork you’re looking at. The make on the title is ‘SPCNS’ and she has a beam of 7 feet. As you can see, she’s in need of some major TLC.
"It appears she was originally from Newport Beach (see the 1972 Polaroid) and was trailered to Lake Almanor. I bought her there and she is now in Graeagle, elevation 4,300 feet in the pines. Lake Tahoe is only one hour away when she’s ready.
"I learned to sail as a kid in Newport Harbor so I had to buy and restore her. I named her Gallant Lady after the yachts my family had in Newport Beach. Any information about her beginnings would be appreciated."
If you know anything about this diamond in the rough, please email Brian directly.