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October 28, 2016

Guo Chuan Racing not Giving Up

As reported in ‘Lectronic Latitude on Wednesday, Chinese singlehander Guo Chuan went missing from his 97-ft trimaran Qingdao China west of Hawaii while attempting to set a San Francisco to Shanghai record. Thanks to the tracker, the boat was located. Crew from the 847-ft Navy assault ship USS Makin Island boarded the boat Thursday morning and could not find the 51-year-old sailor. They lowered the reefed main, and authorities issued a warning to mariners in the area to be on the lookout for the unmanned vessel. Guo Chuan Racing made plans to recover the boat.

Record-setters Guo Chuan and Francis Joyon on the big orange tri.

© Jiang Yongtao

Originally named IDEC, the Irens-designed maxi-tri was built by Frenchman Francis Joyon in 2007 for the purpose of breaking records. "It was with extreme sadness that Joyon and the crew of Idec Sport heard the news," reports that team. “We are concerned on more than one level by this tragedy that happened aboard our former boat,” declared Joyon. "Guo is someone for whom I had the greatest admiration. A former scientist, he wasn’t one with the same background as us. He turned to sailing late on and was self-taught. I watched his attempts with interest and respected what he was able to achieve." This sentiment was shared by fellow team members currently on standby for another attempt at the nonstop around-the-world Jules Verne Trophy — particularly by the German, Boris Herrmann, who recently accompanied Guo on his recent voyage through the Northeast Passage.

The shore team at Guo Chuan Racing speculated on two possible scenarios that might have caused the sailor to fall overboard. In the first, "Guo was sailing with one reef on mainsail and gennaker in about 13-20 knots downwind which is a reasonable sail configuration for these conditions. At the end of the day he decided to furl the gennaker in order to sail even safer for the night. After that he tried to drop it on windward side (which becomes a tricky maneuver in stronger winds for a solo sailor). Holding the halyard and restraining the gennaker at the same time, he lost the control of the halyard and the gennaker finally fell brutally down far away on the leeward side of the boat. As he was trying to restrain the gennaker to fall in the water he got pushed and ripped out of the boat either at the side of the starboard float or in front of the starboard front beam." 

In the second scenario, "Guo was sailing with one reef on mainsail and J1, which is the safest sail configuration for sailing at night. The gennaker was furled and still hoisted. For an unknown reason the halyard or the gennaker cable broke. Guo first furled the J1 in order to slow down the boat before taking care of the gennaker that has fallen in the water. He then began to get the gennaker back on the net close to the starboard float. By manipulating the very powerful gennaker (which was drifting in the water) out of the water, he had at a certain moment to unhook his safety lifeline in order to change his position on the boat. A bad wave throw the gennaker back in the water and pushed Guo out of the boat."

Although the authorities are no longer actively searching for Guo, his shore crew issued this plea today: "Guo Chuan Racing does not prepare to give up rescuing Guo Chuan. We are looking for ships having a platform to land aircrafts and charge fuel near Hawaii. If you have any information about that, please send email to [email protected]."

Mexicans Rock TIP Cancelation Process

Mexico offers one of the greatest values in the world for cruisers with their Temporary Import Permit (TIP). For a one-time fee of about $50, you get a TIP that will allow you to cruise Mexico, with multiple entries and exits, for 10 years. Ten years! To put this in perspective, this is less that what many islands in the Caribbean charge for a single week. Netherlands Antilles (Sint Maarten) take a bow!

However, if you’re going to leave Mexico and not return with your boat, it’s a good idea to cancel that TIP when you leave for the last time, because the TIP goes with the boat. If you sell the boat, the new owner cannot get a new TIP or legally cruise Mexico until the original TIP is canceled.

The necessity of canceling a TIP for boats not returning to Mexico has caused all kinds of problems, so, urged by marine interests in Mexico, Mexican officials announced in Latitude and other media that they would have staff on hand at the consulates in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Sacramento to cancel TIPs on October 27 only.

Based on the reports we’ve received from Chip Prather of the Dana Point-based Morgan 45 Miss Teak and John Dye of the Channel Islands-based Islander 41 Lovely Reta, the Mexican officials knocked themselves out to take care of the surprising number of boatowners who showed up to get TIPs canceled.

“I was able to get the two TIPs — don’t ask, it’s too long a story how my boat got two — without any hassles,” says Chip. “The staff was exceptionally helpful, spoke great English, and completed forms with or for you. They moved the process right along.

“It did take 4.5 hours to get it done, but most of the time was spent waiting for my turn. The woman assisting me said they hadn’t expected so many people and were thus understaffed. However, they did bring in staff from other areas of the consulate to help out.

“The actual processing of my TIPs took 15 minutes at the most. In spite of many of us boatowners telling the staff to go to lunch or at least take a short break, they all refused and kept working to assist us. Overall it was a good experience.”

John Dye had a similar experience at the Los Angeles consulate. “The wonderful officials at the Mexican Consulate were surprised, as they had never seen so many sailors show up at one time. The officials were a bit overwhelmed at first, but quickly got the process organized, and within a few hours everyone was walking out with a new TIP under their name.”

Latitude is not sure if Mexico is going to have another special day at consulates to cancel TIPs, but as you’ll read in the November 1 issue of Latitude 38, boatowners with TIPs in the name of the previous owner of the boat have been successful in getting the TIP canceled — even when in Mexico. Ship agent and Latitude friend Victor Barreda in Cabo has been successful in canceling TIPs, which have then allowed boatowners to get new TIPs in either La Paz or Mazatlan. (You can’t get a TIP in Cabo because they don’t have a Banjercito.) When having a ship’s agent cancel a TIP, you should expect the process to take at least a week.

Whenever trying to cancel a TIP, make sure you have all the paperwork for your boat, hopefully your dinghy, too, your passport, and if at all possible a copy of the boat’s last exit from Mexico.

In other Mexico paperwork news, a couple of Baja Ha-Ha entries report they’ve had trouble getting a TIP online. While you technically can’t sail into Mexican waters without a TIP, don’t sweat it, as officials in Cabo have not been giving boats without TIPs any grief, and Banjercito officials in La Paz and Mazatlan have been issuing new TIPs to boats without them.

Socrates Aborts Circumnavigation

After 10 days at sea, 74-year-old singlehander Jeanne Socrates was forced to suspend her latest nonstop circumnavigation attempt and return to her Victoria, BC, homeport yesterday after taking a beating from extreme weather. 

The amazing Jeanne Socrates in happier times.

© 2016 Times Columnist

Before reversing course, she reported winds of 50-60 knots accompanied by 25-ft seas. Out of caution, she has been keeping in touch with the Coast Guard (RCC Alameda), and at one point was considering donning her survival suit. We’re told that ultimately, the failure of her Jordon series drogue led to the regrettable decision to turn back. Other minor repairs to her longtime warhorse, Nereida, are also needed. The now-famous sloop is a Swedish-built Najad 38.

As reported here and in Latitude 38 magazine in 2013, after 259 days alone at sea, Jeanne successfully completed a nonstop, singlehanded, unassisted circumnavigation via the Five Great Capes. She holds the distinction of being the first woman to sail solo nonstop around the world from North America, and the oldest woman to sail solo nonstop around the world. Her current effort was an attempt to become the oldest personmale or female — to go around solo, nonstop. Japanese sailor Minoru Saito currently holds that record, having completed his lap at age 71 in 2005 aboard his Adams 50 Challenge 7 (ex-Shuten-Dohji).

Great Pumpkin Preview

The frost may not be on the pumpkin quite yet, but the rain certainly is. What effect will these storms have on the Great Pumpkin, Richmond Yacht Club’s popular keelboat regatta coming up this weekend? Will there be any wind? Or too much? For answers to these and other pressing questions, we turned to Mike Dvorak of Sail Tactics.

A very-light-air Wylie Wabbit start at last year’s Great Pumpkin Regatta.


"Winds for the RYC Great Pumpkin this weekend will be southerly, shifty, and unsettled as remnants of multiple upper-level lows pass through the region," Dvorak predicts. "For buoy racing on Saturday, our 2-Day Outlook forecast is showing a large, meandering wind shadow from the City across much of the Berkeley Circle. Significant shifts and pressure pockets will abound, no matter how well the race committee sets up the course."

A wind shadow from southerly wind traversing the City will cause shifty and patchy conditions for buoy racing on Saturday.

© Sail Tactics

"Tide-wise, a dying flood and slack around 1 p.m., according to the Sail Tactics tidal current predictions, in the Saturday racing areas will make the tides an almost moot point," says Dvorak.

This year’s theme for the Saturday night costume party is ‘Home on the Range’, so the cowboys from last year’s ‘Village Pumpkin’ theme will be able to recycle their costumes.

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC
These boats are going in opposite directions in Raccoon Strait, yet they are not competing on a windward/leeward course. Must be the Great Pumpkin pursuit race, where skippers choose which direction to round Angel Island and Alcatraz.

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Fast-forward those tides about an hour on Sunday for the pursuit race, and you get slack current in the Berkeley Circle and a strong, building ebb at Alcatraz around 1:30 p.m. With decent southerly wind in the mid-teens forecast for Sunday, both directions could be valid strategies. Slower boats may want to play it safe and go with the ‘flush’ around Alcatraz in the clockwise direction rather than beat against current and wind. Our 200-meter resolution wind forecast, out each morning around 8 a.m. will have much more detailed winds on race day."

A building ebb on Sunday at Alcatraz could make rounding a challenge as boats with opposite course strategies meet.

© Sail Tactics

Registration is open for Saturday’s buoy racing until 5 p.m. today. You can sign up for Sunday’s pursuit race until 10 a.m. tomorrow. A North Bay alternative is Tiburon YC’s Red Rock Regatta on Saturday only. Registration is open until noon tomorrow. Like the Great Pumpkin, racing is followed by a Saturday night Halloween party.

Qingdao China sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on Tuesday, October 18, bound for Shanghai, to begin a record attempt.
If you don’t know Jack — Jack van Ommen — you’re going to want to meet him at the Ha-Ha Kick-Off Party on Sunday.
The International Masters Regatta is sailed in J/105s in a round-robin format on windward/leeward courses in view of spectators along the San Diego waterfront.