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August 19, 2015

Who Says There Are No Kids Out Cruising?

There are seven times more cruising kids in this photo than there are residents of Suwarrow. 

© 2015 Heather Tzortzis

Not Heather Tzortzis of the San Francisco-based Lagoon 470 Family Circus. Not after taking this photo of 14 kids from cruising boats on Suwarrow, a low atoll in the Cook Islands 502 nautical miles from Rarotonga.

Although currently just two caretakers live on the island during tourist season, over the years Suwarrow has been occupied by a succession of loners. The most famous was New Zealander Tom Neale, who lived alone on Suwarrow for a total of 16 years in three periods between 1952 and 1977. He wrote about it in a book titled An Island to Oneself.

One of the reasons the island is not permanently populated is, as some loners have discovered, there isn’t enough food. Another is tropical cyclones. In 1942 a tropical cyclone washed away 16 of the 22 islets. All that were left were wild pigs and chickens. Cats were later introduced on Anchorage Island in an effort to control the many rats.

Tristan, doing the kind of stuff 14-year-olds do all the time while cruising.

© Heather Tzortis

Too busy to care much about the history of the island was Tristan Tzortzis, as it was his 14th birthday. Heather made a video showing what Tristan does these days: gets in water balloon fights with girl-kid cruisers, climbs coconut trees, free dives with big rays, hangs out with friends on the cat’s lower spreaders, slides down the headstay, skim boards behind the dinghy. You know, the typical stuff American teenagers do.

Finishers in Fastnet Driftfest

The year 2015 will be remembered as a slow one for the Rolex Fastnet Race, which started on Sunday afternoon in Cowes, UK, but the first finishers arrived in Plymouth last night and early this morning.

Yann Guichard and Dona Bertarelli’s VPLP 131 trimaran Spindrift 2 battled two-time Route du Rhum winner Lionel Lemonchois’ 80-ft trimaran Prince de Bretagne to the Lizard before Spindrift’s sizable waterline length advantage prevailed. The giant trimaran crossed the line at 22:57:41 BST for an elapsed time of 2 days 10 hours 57 minutes and 41 seconds, more than a day slower than her own record set in the 2011 race.

Spindrift 2 was first to finish the Rolex Fastnet Race last night.

© Kurt Arrigo / Rolex

Bertarelli described the race as "quite difficult from the start to the end. The wind was quite light and not really made for this type of boat," she said. "We are the biggest, but we are also the heaviest. All day we were neck and neck with Prince de Bretagne, which kept on coming back into us."

But ultimately Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo3 finished second, having overtaken Prince de Bretagne some five miles from the line. But wait — not so fast! The American MOD70 was then becalmed less than a mile from the line, allowing the French boat to close to within a third of a mile. Finally Phaedo3 ghosted across the line, finishing 20 minutes ahead of Prince de Bretagne, which had in turn become stuck in a wind hole.

Thornburg was ecstatic after this, his first Rolex Fastnet Race, despite the soft conditions. "This is the most exciting race I’ve ever done!" he enthused. "The finish was the only time we went backwards."

Jim Clark’s 100-ft Comanche, with Ken Read skippering, fought a close duel with George David’s Rambler 88. Their race went down to the wire with Comanche finishing just four and a half minutes ahead — putting Rambler six hours ahead on corrected time. "It was honestly one of the most bizarre races I’ve ever been in in my life — starts and stops and people being left behind for dead and then all of a sudden they are sailing around you," said Read. Arriving in Plymouth at 5:22 BST this morning, Comanche completed the 603-mile offshore race in 2 days, 15 hours, 42 minutes and 26 seconds.

Rambler 88 at the finish.

© Kurt Arrigo / Rolex

One of the most eloquent descriptions of the race comes from one of the smallest boats, the current IRC leader on corrected time, Géry Trentesaux’s JPK 10.80 Courrier Du Leon. "We have passed the Fastnet Rock at 05:30 cold and wet but surrounded by Irish dolphins! We are now going south. A beautiful descent under spinnaker, smoking at 19 knots… a heavenly load of pressure under the clouds. We are catching big boats in a surfer’s madness."

San Francisco’s Ashley Perrin is sailing doublehanded with yacht designer Merf Owen on the smallest boat in the fleet, Santana, a Carl Schumacher-designed Capo 30 (a precursor of the Olson 911S). The weather took a turn for the worse on their approach to Fastnet Rock. "It’s not that comfortable on port tack," she described. "The water finds its way in and the nav station is wet with a bin bag protecting the laptop. Using the head would result in the contents emptying into your trousers so bucket and chuck it is the way to go."

The Bay Area’s Ashley Perrin is doublehanding the Fastnet with Merf Owen.

© Rolex Fastnet Race

For more tales from the front and to follow the rest of the race go to

Ocean Racing in Marvelous Marin

Here’s a pop quiz: What 62-mile ocean regatta starts in Marin County and finishes in Marin County two days in a row? The answer of course is the Drake’s Bay Race.

Randy Leasure’s Westsail 32 Tortuga may not be your typical racing boat, but the singlehander sails in SSS races such as last year’s slow and foggy Drake’s Bay Race. We’ll have a profile of Leasure and a couple of his fellow singlehanders in the September issue of Latitude 38.

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For the second year in a row, the Singlehanded Sailing Society will join the OYRA’s race to Drake’s Bay, which is coming up this weekend. The combined fleet will start off the deck of the Corinthian YC on Saturday morning, sail around the Marin Headlands and up the coast to Drake’s Bay, spend the night at anchor, and race back to Tiburon on Sunday, 31 miles each way.

A CYC committee boat will join the fleet in Drake’s Bay to facilitate finishes on Saturday and starts on Sunday. Although some racers do the ‘turn-and-burn’, forsaking Sunday’s race to get back home on Saturday night, they miss relaxing in the scenic cove, the camaraderie of the anchorage, the mini-raft-ups that form, and the visiting between boats.

The deadline to enter as an SSS racer is tonight at midnight. Skippers have until 5 p.m. on Thursday to get all their forms completed. And yes, shorthanders can get scored in both series. The combined skippers’ meeting is tonight at 7:30 at Oakland YC in Alameda. Anyone interested is welcome to attend.

Another singlehander, Stan Glaros, tacks his 1D35 Zsa Zsa at the Golden Gate Bridge on the way to Half Moon Bay in June’s OYRA race.

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The following SSS race will be the Half Moon Bay Race on September 19, and the OYRA will join them for the first time this year (the OYRA already had a Half Moon Bay Race on June 27). The final regatta of the SSS season will be the Vallejo 1-2, in which racers singlehand to Vallejo YC on October 17 and race back to Richmond YC doublehanded the following day. Sorry, OYRA racers — this one goes inland!

On his way to Vallejo, Paul Disario waves from the cockpit of the Olson 911S Plus Sixteen.

Out of the stable and back in action the famous tri formerly named IDEC II blasts across flat water during training sessions in France.
Let’s see, food? "Check." Equipment? "Check." Lagunitas IPA? "Check." A memorable shot from Another Girl’s resupply mission to Southeast Farallon Island.