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May 22, 2015

The Fastest Sailboat Ever

Long, sleek and sexy, Sprindrift 2 is one mean sailing machine. 

© 2015 Spindrift Racing

The fastest sailboat that has ever sailed the oceans has just become faster, at least in theory.

Latitude readers will likely remember the incredible sailing machine Banque Populaire V, which covered an almost unbelievable 908 miles in 24 hours en route to shattering the transatlantic record back in 2009. The 140-ft long VPLP-designed maxi-trimaran went on to set nearly every major record in ocean sailing including the transatlantic in both directions and nonstop around the world in a scant 45 days, 13 hours, and 43 minutes. After her record round-the-world run, the boat was sold to Swiss billionaire Dona Bertarelli (sister to Alinghi syndicate owner Ernesto Bertarelli) and renamed Spindrift 2. After breaking her own east-to-west transatlantic record in early 2014, Spindrift 2 went on to compete in last year’s Route du Rhum solo race across the Atlantic before she returned to the shed for a major refit and an all-new adventure.

Spindrift 2 roaring offshore — with a reef in. Amazingly, she’s clocked 908 miles in a single day, averaging more than 37.8 nm per hour! But in her new incarnation she’s expected to be much faster. 

© 2015 Spindrift Racing

With structural modifications, a new engine, a slightly shorter (and 25% lighter) mast, and all new sails, Spindrift 2 has been thoroughly optimized with the main goals being to reduce overall weight, weight aloft and loads. By pulling more than a ton (!) of weight out of the carbon-fiber mast, rigging and sails, the boat should — in theory at least — be faster on all points of sail without a reduction in reliability, even considering that the boat’s structure itself has been lightened significantly. Her main goal? To break her own Jules Verne Trophy record for the fastest nonstop round-the-world circumnavigation.

Baron Rothschild’s new Gitana will be an all-carbon beauty. 

© 2015 Yvan Zedda

While Spindrift 2 looks to break her own lofty record, another boat is in the works that should be even faster. Enter Baron Benjamin de Rothschild’s Gitana racing syndicate. The same group that sailed into San Francisco Bay in 2008 on maxi-catamaran Gitana 13 to set the record from New York to San Francisco has recently announced plans to build the first built-from-the-ground-up fully-foiling maxi-trimaran that the world has ever seen. Skipper Seb Josse and the entire Gitana team has been hard at work to develop the platform and technology for the new foiling maxi-tri by modifying their MOD70 Edmond de Rothschild, which is breaking records as we speak. Expect the boat to be on the water — and above it — in mid-2017 with a Jules Verne attempt that winter.

Hank Easom Biopic Debuts

Filmmaker Oleg Harencar and his production team had a brilliant idea a few years ago when they decided to make a series of short biographical films, dubbed Life on the Water. Each short film in the series spotlights the life and accomplishments of a legendary Bay Area sailor.

The first, on Ron MacAnnan, tireless caretaker of the M-Class sloop Pursuit, and the second, on Commodore Tompkins’ childhood trip around Cape Horn aboard the legendary schooner Wander Bird, were both very well received by Bay Area audiences. The newest in the series, profiling renowned Bay Area sailor/boat builder Hank Easom, will debut next Thursday, May 28, at Mill Valley’s Throckmorton Theater, at 7:30 p.m.

Up the mast at 80? Nothin’ to it. Hank Easom is a remarkable sailor, an accomplished boat builder, and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. 

© Woody Skoriak

Having grown up around the Sausalito waterfront, Hank got into sailing when his age was in single digits, and won his first trophy at age 11. Now in his 80s, Hank still avidly races his beloved 8-Meter Yucca, and often makes it into the winner’s circle. "This portrait will take us from his early development as a young wide-eyed boy to the well-earned wisdom of present day," say the filmmakers. "An inspiring story of an inspiring sailor."

A Q&A session with Hank and Oleg will follow the new film’s debut, as well as a screening of the Tompkins film: Cape Horn Passage in Schooner Wander Bird. Advance tickets may be purchased here.

Barker Goes to Japanese AC Team

Dean Barker dons new team colors in Bermuda.

© SoftBank Team Japan

Kiwi Dean Barker, who was dumped as skipper for Emirates Team New Zealand in February, has been picked up by the America’s Cup Japanese challenger, SoftBank Team Japan. Barker will serve as skipper and CEO of the new team.

"This is an incredible opportunity to build a new team from the ground up,” Barker said from Bermuda. "It’s an honor to take on the responsibility of both CEO and skipper. We’re filling the key roles on the team as quickly as we can. I think we’re pulling together a very strong team. Our goal is to win the America’s Cup."

SoftBank Team Japan was confirmed as a challenger earlier this month. The team is now focusing on preparations for the first America’s Cup World Series event in Portsmouth on July 24-26. See

Quite a few Latitude 38 readers have circumnavigated, but to the best of our knowledge, Charlie and Cathie Simon of Nuevo Vallarta and Spokane — but who got their sailing chops on San Francisco Bay —  are the first to have had their achievement announced on the big electronic billboard at New York City’s Times Square.