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May 27, 2016

June Latitude Out Early

As our cover photo illustrates, sailing is big fun, even when you’re riding the rail. So we hope you’ll make time to get out on the water this weekend. And be sure to slip into your marina’s office and grab the latest issue of good ‘ol Latitude 38.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We hope the three-day Memorial Day weekend will allow you to spend lots of time out on the water — in addition to spending some quality time with the June issue of Latitude 38

We made a special effort to get it printed before the weekend, and it is being distributed today in the Greater Bay Area — also available to read online right now (or download for free). 

Inside, you’ll find our usual mix of sailing news from the West Coast and beyond. In Sightings, we celebrate the return of 70-year-old solo circumnavigator Jeff Hartjoy, offer tips on Delta cruising, recap the America’s Cup World Series in New York, describe opportunities for youth sailing on the Bay, detail how to sail from Fiji to the West Coast without bashing your brains out, and explore sailing on the Seine.

How can kids get access to sailing on the Bay? As you’ll read in our Sightings article, there are dozens of ways — some absolutely free. 

© 2016 Richmond YC Junior Program

Our June issue feature articles include a photo-heavy report on the Great Vallejo Race, profiles of all Singlehanded TransPac entrants, and our attempt to solve Battery Befuddlement, while Max Ebb explains why there’s nothing as expensive as a cheap boat. 

The Racing Sheet details both local and far-flung races, World of Chartering focuses on Tonga, and Changes in Latitudes shares reports from Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Marquesas and elsewhere. 

So don’t miss your chance to grab a copy while it’s hot off the press. Click here for a complete list of distribution outlets. (SoCal, Pacific Northwest and Hawaii distributors will receive shipments in a few days.)

Have a fabulous weekend — but be safe out there!

Banderas Bay Laser Racing Is Heaven

Fun racing in the Standard Masters Worlds on Day 4 (yesterday).

© John Pounder

"Laser sailing/racing in Banderas Bay is heaven: warm water, warmer air temps, 6- to 10-knot breeze in the early afternoon building to 12-15 by mid-afternoon meaning lighter weight sailors have a shot in the first race and heavier sailors can come on in the second race." So said Walt Spevak of Mill Valley, who competed there for the Laser Radial Masters Worlds in April. Spevak said he would be happy to have the Worlds in Banderas Bay every year. "The Vallarta Yacht Club rolled out the green, white and red carpet, making launching and hauling out a breeze. They have put on four — count ’em four — Laser World Championships in a two-month period. Hosting one world championship is an endeavor. Four is above and beyond."

The four regattas are/were:

  • Laser Radial Women’s World Championship, April 12-20
  • Radial Masters’ World Championships, April 22-30
  • Laser Standard Men’s World Championship, May 10-18
  • Standard Masters World Championships, May 20-28
Jon Andron, racing on Day 1 of the Radial Masters Worlds. Great Grand Masters must be 65 to 74 years old.

© John Pounder

Four sailors from Northern California’s Laser District 24 competed in the Radial Masters Worlds. Jon Andron of Lafayette sailed in the Great Grand Masters division. "The conditions are a warmer version of Alamitos Bay outside the breakwater," said Andron. "The facilities were excellent with sheltered boat parking and ramp launching with assistance from the juniors. There is a gradient wind which can fight with the thermal, so often the wind direction at the weather mark was different than at the starting line. With excellent coaching for our American group from Vonn Harrison, I was able to improve my scores later in the series and finish with a third and two bullets in the 50-boat fleet for a fourth overall."

Walt Spevak was ninth in the 49-boat Grand Masters group. Kurt Wessels of San Francisco and Toshi Takayanagi sailed in the Masters group. "Toshi, competing in his first Worlds, ended the regatta with an impressive fifth on the last day," reports Spevak, "and could be heard at the boat park afterwards in his best Japanese Terminator impression ‘I’ll be back’."

Toshinari ‘Toshi’ Takayanagi raced in the Radial Masters Worlds in the Masters class for ages 45 to 54.


Toshinari Takayanagi
©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"I agree 100% that the Masters Worlds at Nuevo Vallarta was really fantastic and unforgettable," said Takayanagi. "I spent seven months preparing for the event. And the training and practices did not betray me. I was able to perform my personal best in the championship. When I finished the last race (the 12th race in the six-days-long regatta), I got an overwhelming feeling that I literally did my best, and I cried."

Toshi back on land at Paradise Village. The Japanese sailor races with the Shoreline Lake Laser group out of Mountain View.

Toshinari Takayanagi
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Among the District 24 Laser sailors currently competing at the Standard Masters Worlds are Emilio Castelli of Sebastopol and Simon Bell of El Dorado Hills. Castelli agrees that "It’s a gorgeous place for sailing!" Bell concurs: "Conditions are amazing — warm water, warm air and a steady thermal — and very strong competition."

Eric Faust from ILCA reports that yesterday, "A light haze over the ocean kept the thermal wind from fully developing, but sailors were treated to a moderate 8- to 11-knot breeze that provided very tactical and tight racing." About today, he says, "Of course when you’re sailing in paradise, the forecast is once again for perfect sailing conditions."

The Laser Worlds wrap up the larger FMV Cup, which started way back in February with the PV Race, which we featured in the April issue of Latitude 38.

Fire Destroys Sandpiper in Sea of Cortez

The sad news has just reached us that Edward Staples’ and Annette Alexander’s SoCal-based Island Packet sailboat Sandpiper caught fire and sank May 14, while crossing the Sea of Cortez en route to Mazatlan.

"Annette and I barely escaped with our lives," wrote Ed in an email to friends, "and had to swim/float for over an hour before being picked up by a fishing boat whose crew saw the smoke from 20 miles away."

Now safely back in Southern California, the couple explained, "We do have some burns and smoke inhalation issues, but these are being attended to."

We do not know the cause of the fire, but judging by the couple’s comments it obviously escalated very rapidly, as the couple did not have time to deploy their liferaft or gather essential gear. "We lost our phones, contact info and computers," explained Ed.

Needless to say, the incident shocked their many friends in the Mexico cruising community. We hope to learn more about this tragic incident, as there will undoubtedly be lessons learned that many Latitude readers can learn from. In the meantime, we wish Annette and Ed a speedy recovery, and we sincerely hope they’ll be back out on the water soon. 

New York to Vendée Solo Race

While the West Coast sailing scene celebrates Memorial Day with the running of a revamped Spinnaker Cup race from San Francisco to Monterey and an all-new multi-stage California Offshore Race Week, East Coast sailors are focused on the New York-Vendée solo transatlantic race beginning on Sunday and the Atlantic Cup doublehanded coastal race beginning on Saturday. Both feature world-class talent and take place in modern, high-tech boats designed for shorthanded offshore racing.

Fourteen IMOCA 60s have gathered in Manhattan to await this weekend’s departure for France. Note the foil resting on the dock.

© 2016 Thierry Martinez / Ocean Masters

After the finish of the solo transatlantic Transat Bakerly and the America’s Cup World Series, Sunday’s New York-Vendée is just the latest in a string of major, high-profile international yacht races to take place in the Big Apple in May. The last major singlehanded race that the IMOCA Ocean Masters will campaign before their quadrennial crown jewel — this November’s Vendée Globe — the New York-Vendée will likely have more than a few surprises. With 14 IMOCA 60 monohulls on the line, including six of the new-generation semi-foiling designs, New York-Vendée features all of the big players who’ll compete in the upcoming Vendée Globe, which has the potential to be the fastest and most competitive edition ever. Racing across the Atlantic from west to east in the summer is when 24-hour distance records oftentimes get broken, and with half a dozen revolutionary new boats on the line, we’ll be watching this one with bated breath.

The pre-race favorite for the 3,100-mile New York-Vendée would have to be Banque Populaire skipper Armel le Cléac’h, who comes into the race riding a groundswell of momentum after winning this month’s Transat Bakerly and placing second on his maiden run with the new boat in last fall’s carnage-filled Transat Jacques Vabre, in which four of the five new-generation boats dropped out due to damage. Many thought the new Hugo Boss to be a total loss last November when it was floating low in the water with no mast while its two crew were airlifted to safety by the Spanish Coast Guard. No stranger to overcoming adversity, British skipper Alex Thomson and his distinctive new boat will — incredibly — be on the startling line Sunday in what will be his only true test run of the boat before the solo, nonstop, round-the-world Vendée Globe in November.

Hugo Boss in action.

© Mark Lloyd

On Saturday, nine Class 40s will depart from Charleston, SC, to race 648 miles doublehanded up to New York. Once there, the fleet will regroup to race 360 miles up to Portland, Maine, beginning June 4. The third and final leg of the Atlantic Cup will be a series of inshore races in Maine, where each boat will sail with a crew of six.

A fleet of Class 40s will start the Atlantic Cup tomorrow in Charleston.

© 2016 Billy Black

Follow the action of boat events via their tracker sites: Click here for the New York-Vendée tracker and click here for the Atlantic Cup tracker. Then stay tuned to ‘Lectronic for updates on these two early summertime thrillers.

Lemme guess: Rip Van Winkle? Leon Russell? No, that’s actually solo circumnavigator Jeff Hartjoy looking rather wooly after spending 204 days alone at sea.
For reasons we’ll never understand, many people choose to take long road trips over the Memorial Day Weekend, and invariably end up spending long hours in ugly, mind-numbing traffic.
The West Coast is well represented on US Sailing Team Sperry. Californian Paris Henken and Washingtonian Helena Scutt, a Stanford grad, sail the 49erFX, the women’s version of the 49er skiff.