December 21, 2011

Groupama Sends It, Banque Pop Slips

Iker Martinez’ Telefonica crashes through the Indian Ocean in pursuit of Franck Cammas’Groupama 4.

© 2011 Diego Fructoso Telefonica/Volvo

In Monday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude, we told you about Franck Cammas’ and Jean-Luc Nelias’ big gamble to get around the trough that plagued the Volvo Ocean Race fleet for the better part of three days. Their big southerly move took them farther away from their destination — the undisclosed safe haven port — than they had been at the start in Cape Town. But sailing all those extra miles has turned up roses for Cammas’ Groupama 4, which used a favorable breeze angle to effect an end-around on the fleet. The crew has rocketed into an 80-mile lead while consolidating their gains by positioning themselves in front of the rest of the pack. With the doldrums looming, that may all change, but for now, Groupama is looking pretty fly.

It won’t be long before the boats enter the “stealth zone” and we spectators lose the ability to zoom out this wide, or see the weather overlays.


Coinciding with the doldrums is the "stealth zone," an area where the weather overlay will be removed from the tracker, and the field of view will not zoom out large enough to ascertain the fleet’s whereabouts. In this zone lies the safe haven port, which, judging by the boat’s tracks. will likely be somewhere in India. At the safe haven port, the boats will be loaded on an armed ship bound for the Persian Gulf, and a restart about a day’s sail from Abu Dhabi. Thankfully, one thing that won’t be blacked out is the great video coming from the race, such as this one:

Meanwhile, in the Pacific Ocean, Loïck Peyron’s 131-ft monster trimaran Banque Populaire V has slipped considerably from her once-astounding lead of 2,300 miles against the reference time of Franck Cammas’ Jules Verne Trophy-holding 105-ft Groupama 3. Upwind conditions in the Southern Ocean, icebergs, and a trough not unlike the one encountered by the Volvo Fleet have stalled the massive tri, reducing her lead over the reference time to a mere 625 miles. The weather outlook to Cape Horn looks pretty good, so don’t be surprised to see that margin increase.

Diana Jessie Passes Away

We were saddened to learn that circumnavigator and author Diana Jessie passed away on December 15 of congestive heart failure, following a series of strokes. Diana began sailing in ’74 and skippered an all-women sailing team on San Francisco Bay, sailing in the Big Boat Series, TransPac, and many other offshore races. From ’85 to ’92, she and husband Jim circumnavigated aboard their 48-ft, cold-molded Lapworth sloop Nalu IV, then went on to circumnavigate the North Pacific in the late ’90s. All told, the Jessies sailed more than 120,000 miles aboard Nalu IV. For the last several years, Jim and Diana have lived aboard their Grand Banks Alaskan 53 Nalu in Alameda.

Diana at the helm of Totem on Banderas Bay. She will be missed by many.

© 2011 Behan Gifford

Diana was known for her passion in opening up the world of sailing to others, especially women. "Diana opened the door for me," says Behan Gifford, who is currently cruising with her husband and three kids aboard their Stevens 47 Totem. "She demystified what felt like an unattainable dream. She was passionate about sharing a woman’s perspective and experience of cruising, to put open-eyed women in the drivers seat of what had long been a male-dominated realm."

Gifford isn’t alone in that sentiment. Diana’s books — especially The Cruising Woman’s Advisor — plus her articles and seminars helped motivate and inspire many female sailors over the years. "Diana was one tough cookie, revered and loved by many across oceans," says Sarah Powell of the San Francisco-based Tayana 47 El Tiburon. "She left a long legacy of inspiring woman to untie the docklines and follow their wildest dreams in her wake."

A memorial service will be held at Oakland YC next month.

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Still Smiling in Mazatlan

"When you ask a dozen cruisers about Mazatlan as a potential stop, the resounding sentiment is ‘skip it,’" writes Tucker Bradford, who’s cruising with his wife Victoria and two small children, Ruby and Miles, aboard their Emeryville-based Cal 43 Convivia. "But I want add some weight to the countervailing position. Mazatlan is a great city to visit, especially if you are following the common pattern of Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Mainland.

Ruby and Miles play at will on beaches near Mazatlan.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"After a solid month of desert landscape and beach towns, the bustle and unique character of Mazatlan has been a welcome change. If I were to equate my two favorite Mexican cities — so far — with their familiar counterparts, I would say that La Paz reminded me of Santa Cruz and Mazatlan reminded me of Barcelona. For sure it has its grime, and apparently it has its crime, though we didn’t see or hear of any directly, but it also has character, a proud congenial populace, and some really great sights.

The colorful, shaded and clean streets of Mazatlan were perfect for exploring.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"We’d only planned to be in Mazatlan long enough to do laundry and wash the boat down. By day four we hadn’t done the second of those tasks because we’d been too busy exploring. When we went up to the marina office to let them know we would stay another day, they informed us that eight nights cost as much as five, so we happily extended our stay. We got the boat washing done the next morning and spent the rest of our stay riding busses, visiting with and making new friends — both cruisers and land-based — and eating out.

The Bradfords felt nothing but comfortable and safe while exploring Mazatlan.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Mazatlan has a burgeoning arts and culture scene that seems to be centered around the Teatro de Angela Peralta. I stumbled into an awesome gallery after taking the kids out for popsicles, and proceeded to spend the next hour talking with the family that owned it. As we walked home, we passed by the Teatro again and heard band practice in full swing. The kids danced and popped bubbles that two local boys were blowing for them. When we got home we were still smiling."

You can follow the Bradford Family’s adventures on their website.

Franck Cammas’ Groupama 4 is blasting north now, after a big detour south in Leg Two of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Nicole Ryan earned first place with this outstanding photo of Saturday’s San Rafael Canal Lighted Boat Parade.
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‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the yard
The boats were resting up on the hard.