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October 25, 2013

Coville Ready and Waiting

Thomas Coville is ready and waiting to claim the title of fastest solo circumnavigator.

© Vincent Curutchet / Sodebo

The one thing you can say about French sailor Thomas Coville is that he’s as persistent as he is an accomplished ocean racer. He’s currently standing by in Brest, France, with his 105-ft maxi trimaran Sodebo, waiting for a weather window to take yet another crack at the singlehanded around-the-world record.

"Equipment, food…everything is on board," says Coville. “The waiting period is not easy to manage because you have to save money while keeping energy and motivation. My routers analyze weather files and will alert me when a window opens. Finally, freedom can be binding, despite knowing that the perfect window does not exist, we believe! We adjust our requirements as time passes knowing that the ideal window is between November 1 and December 15.”

This will be Coville’s eighth race around the world, the fourth singlehanded in an effort to claim the record for the fastest singlehanded circumnavigation. In his last two attempts, he failed by three days or less to beat the 57.5-day record set by another great French singlehander, Francis Joyon with the 97-ft trimaran IDEC.

And one for the ladies.

© Vincent Curutchet / Sodebo

In the world of singlehanded multihull sailing, there is only Joyon and Coville, who compete against each other for around-the-world, TransAtlantic and other records. The two men and their boats are very different. Coville is outgoing and his trimaran is equipped with the best of everything. Joyon is much more private, and his trimaran is the essence of simplicity. Right now, Joyon is the top dog.

As you can imagine, singlehanding a maxi multihull is dangerous enough in mild conditions, but around the Southern Ocean is exponentially more dangerous. As proof, check out the YouTube video of Coville almost auguring in with Sodebo.

Bye Bye to Paper Charts

Paper is so passé — at least according to the federal government. NOAA announced earlier this week that the Federal Aviation Administration, the government agency that prints maritime charts, will cease printing them after April 13, 2014. Before you freak out, take a deep breath and keep reading.

Paper charts are going the way of the sextant.


The charts, which will continue to be updated by NOAA, will be still be available for purchase at shops with print-on-demand capabilities — Waypoints in Oakland and West Marine, for example (see OceanGrafix for a full list of worldwide retailers) — and the maximum price is set by the government to ensure affordability.

Digital chart files have been available for some time in ENC and raster formats, but NOAA has launched a trial program that will make them available in PDF format through January 22. If the response to the trial is positive, NOAA will likely continue the service. Read the FAQ sheet on the announcement HERE and download the free chart files HERE.

Of course modern chartplotters have made paper charts all but obsolete, but we personally would never leave on an extended voyage without a pile of paper back-ups. Electronics are known to fail at the most inconvenient times and we’d hate to have to enter port using the Braille method.

Besides, we have a certain fondness for paper…

Call us old school, but we kind of like dead-tree products.

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Visit the Magnificent Gloria

Throughout the world, tall ships are divided into four classes, with the largest — longer than 131 feet — given the designation of ‘Class A’. We think it’s a fitting moniker, as it not only acknowledges the size of these vessels, but also hints at their nautical grandeur. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Class A tall ships are the most spectacular traditionally rigged sailing vessels on the water today, and you have a rare opportunity to tour one this week, as the Colombian Navy’s magnificent three-masted barque Gloria will be berthed at Pier 17 until her departure on October 29 (tentatively 1 p.m.).

Most of us missed the crew’s traditional ‘harbor salute’ when Gloria arrived this morning, but as this file shot shows, it is a breathtaking sight. Perhaps they’ll do it again when they depart on the 29th.

© 2013 Bill Carleton

Currently homebound after a world tour, Gloria serves as both a goodwill vessel for Colombia and a seamanship training platform for up to 100 naval cadets. At 250 feet, she is one of the largest tall ships in the world, and she’s been in continual service since her launch in 1966 at Bilbao, Spain.

Don’t miss this opportunity to check her out first hand. South American officers and crew are always gracious hosts who take great pride in their vessels.

Public tour schedule:
Oct. 25: 2-4 p.m.
Oct. 26: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Oct. 27: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Oct. 28: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Oct. 29: 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Halloween Edition Race Preview

Boo! It’s your spooky girlfriend here with a special Halloween edition of Weekend Racing Preview.

Who among us will be haunting RYC this weekend?

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Steampunk is the theme for Richmond YC’s Great Pumpkin Regatta. On Saturday, one design and PHRF classes will race on the Southhampton, Olympic Circle and Deep Water drop-mark courses. Saturday night’s party will raise the dead — for dinner, dancing, and a costume contest. On Sunday, PHRF and BAMA-rated boats will sail a pursuit race around Angel and Alcatraz Islands in either direction. To promote family racing, spinnaker-rated boats sailing without a spinnaker will have a 10-second-per-mile allowance. You can still sign up in person until 10 tomorrow morning. See

Alamitos Bay YC in Long Beach is hosting their fun Halloween Regatta Sunday, October 27. Ocean course classes include 5o5, A-Cat, Cal 20, Etchells, Finn, F18, Hobie 16, Laser, Mercury, PHRF, Portsmouth, and Thistle. Bay course classes include Lido 14, Naples Sabot, and Laser. This will be the last chance to launch and retrieve boats from the ABYC dinghy ramp and docks for some time. The ramp, gangways and docks in the basin adjacent will be demolished beginning November 1 in preparation for replacement over the next several months, a scary prospect indeed! Even more frightening for the I-5 trailer-sailor set is that this small-boat regatta conflicts with StFYC’s Fall Dinghy and Olympic Classes Regatta this weekend.

Tiburon YC’s Red Rock Regatta used to coincide with Great Pumpkin on the last weekend of October and with TYC’s own Halloween party (which has fallen by the wayside). Lately the Red Rock Regatta has been held on the first Saturday in November instead. This year, that’s November 2, Dìa de los Muertos. Enter who dare!

Wanna hear something really scary? Summer must really be dead — Midwinters season is creeping up on us.

© 2013

The Dìa de los Muertos weekend also brings us the first big Midwinter races of the season, including Golden Gate YC’s Seaweed Soup Regatta on November 2 and Sausalito YC’s Midwinter Series on November 3.

Speaking of spooky girlfriends, why not scare yourself a little and let your gf or female crew drive your boat in the Jack & Jill + 1? Of course, female boat owners are also encouraged to enter the women skippers’ triplehanded race coming to Island YC November 3. It’s the last event on Latitude 38’s unofficial women’s circuit.

As one of our favorite sailors, Tommy Goodwin, always says, "Don’t be afraid!" 

Last Friday, three of five Somali pirates who seized the French yacht Tanit in 2009 were sentenced in a French court to nine years in prison.
As many cruisers know, the logistics of getting supplies from California south to say, La Paz, by road can be challenging.