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March 1, 2013

Fifteen Minutes of Fame Day

Among the things that cruisers will learn about during our Vallarta YC Send-Off Party this afternoon, is the warm Polynesian welcome they’ll receive in the islands.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

You might say that today is Fifteen Minutes of Fame Day for Pacific Puddle Jumpers in the Puerto Vallarta area. Why? Because today is the day that all who show up at Latitude 38’s annual PPJ Send-Off Party will be interviewed for mini-bios that will appear in the magazine. As we often say, we give them this special attention because we consider anyone who makes the 3,000-mile ‘jump’ from the West Coast to French Polynesia to be entering the realm of “varsity-level cruising.”

As in years past, today’s event is being generously co-hosted by the Vallarta YC in Nuevo Vallarta’s Paradise Village Resort. In addition to digital media presentations on the crossing, we’ll share insights on Polynesian culture, customs and immigration issues, inter-island cruising, and cruising strategies beyond these fabled isles.

Where do you travel to in your cruising dreams? Pictured is the Bora Bora lagoon during the annual Tahiti Pearl Regatta, when sailors from all over the world race and party with French and Tahitian sailors.

© 2013 Marine Nationale / PM Sabine Boudard

The current sign-up list for this loosely formed rally now stands at 130 entries from at least 15 countries (you can still sign up at the link above). We’ll meet more of them soon in Panama, where the Balboa YC will help us put on another send-off party next Saturday (March 9, noon to 4 p.m.). Look for our reports on this year’s fleet in the April and May editions of Latitude 38 — which will be available as free downloads, of course, at

March Latitude Ready to Read

The March issue of Latitude 38 starts hitting all the usual Bay Area spots today. Things are really heating up on San Francisco Bay, and we’ve covered some of the hottest events. You’ll find the Three Bridge Fiasco wrap-up as well as the stunning performance by Giovanni Soldini and his Maserati crew when they smashed the New York-to-San Francisco record. Want to dip your toes in the wet ‘n wild world of beer can racing? Check out our ‘Beer Can Primer’, which includes the Latitude 38 Ten Commandments of Beer Can Racing. Max Ebb opines on the technological war being waged for the America’s Cup, Wayne Hendrix recounts the 400-or-so people he’s introduced to sailing on Capricorn Cat, and the old ‘No Nukes’ protest vessel Golden Rule gets resurrected. 

If you’re not sure where to find the paper copy of Latitude 38, check out our distribution list. Nothing near you? No worries! Later today you’ll be able to read the entire issue online, or download it to your computer. Just keep an eye on our homepage. Once the cover switches to the one above, click, read and enjoy your weekend!

Sin on Wheels

After smashing the existing monohull sailing record from New York to San Francisco, the turboed Volvo 70 Maserati has hauled out at the KKMI boatyard in Richmond. Having sailed some 30,000 miles since their last haul out, the boat is in need of a full check and service.

The team started by pulling the massive carbon fiber mast and sending their carbon standing rigging back to Southern Spars in Newport, RI for an inspection. With some 75,000 miles logged on it, this standing rigging has seen more miles than any other set of hard carbon rigging on the planet! During their historic NY-SF record run, a defective pocket allowed a batten to push through the mast, so the team had the rig ultrasounded and sent the info back to Southern Spars.

After finishing their work on the mast, the Maserati team will drop the keel and rudders, service all hydraulics and bearings, and prep the boat for this summer’s TransPac Race, which they’ll follow up with a run all the way to Hong Kong. The team expects to be hauled out for 6-8 weeks before they relaunch and start promotional sailing.

Latitude’s First-Ever Boat Review

Longtime readers know that Latitude has always been averse to doing boat reviews. After all, in the typical boating publication review, somebody looks at a boat just as you could at a boat show, then goes out for an afternoon sail. We think there are two inherent problems with such reviews. First, there are huge variations in personal taste. Lots of people may like the interior layout and style of the Big Blow 42, while other fair-minded people may find it’s just not to their liking. Second, and even more important, what can a single afternoon in a single kind of sailing condition really tell you about the sailing ability, seakindliness and durability of a boat? Not much, in our opinion. Thus our decision to refrain from boat reviews.

Read on for the first-ever Latitude boat review for the Catana 471.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

But while at the St. Martin YC in Sint Maarten last night, Curly — last name not needed, but long ago of Sausalito — introduced us to a longtime friend, "a catamaran owner," whose name we have already forgotten. Anyway, this relatively young gentleman of enough means to not have to work reported that 10 years ago he bought a Catana 471 catamaran brand new, and since then has sailed it across the Atlantic 20 times. Twenty times!

You know how a lot of people who cruise Mexico return to California for hurricane season? Europeans in the Caribbean face pretty much the same dilemma — except that while it’s 750 miles from Cabo to San Diego, it’s something like 3,500 miles between St. Martin and Palma de Mallorca. So most don’t even think of doing it. But then there is Mr. Catana 471. "I can make it across the Atlantic in three weeks," he told us, "so why would I spend hurricane season in the Caribbean, especially since I love Palma so much?"

"How good is the 471 we asked him?"

"She’s a very good boat," he replied.

Since talk is cheap, we were looking for stronger confirmation. And we got it.

"I just put $100,000 into refitting her," he mentioned. "I figured the only other boat I’d want would be a Catana 65, but that’s more money then I want to spend, so I chose to refit my 10-year-old, much-traveled Catana 47."

So here’s our first-time, one-line Latitude boat review: "The Catana 471 is a proven performer in Atlantic crossing conditions."

We are currently accepting additional boat reviews. If you don’t have a lot of ocean experience with your boat, you are not qualified to write a Latitude 38 boat review.

The Coast Guard risks their lives during SAR missions. © USCG Speculation is running rampant across the country that the distress calls received by the Coast Guard on Sunday, reporting that two adults and two children abandoned ship to a makeshift liferaft as their 29-ft sailboat Charm Blow sank out from under them, was a hoax.
The most amazing and exciting moment in yesterday’s US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards presentation came when Paralympic silver medalist Jennifer French stood up out of her wheelchair.