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June 28, 2017

Puddle Jumpers Rendez-vous in Moorea

A potential reward for those who make the challenging passage from the West Coast to French Polynesia is the chance to participate in these outrigger canoe races — big fun in a jaw-dropping setting. 

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Ever since we coined the phrase Pacific Puddle Jump more than 20 years ago to describe the annual migration of sailors from the West Coast of the Americas to French Polynesia, we’ve hosted festive sendoff parties in Mexico, and, more recently, in Panama too. Back in the early days though, we always felt that the hardy sailors who made that 3,000- to 4,000-mile passage also deserved an arrival celebration.

We finally made that happen 12 years ago, thanks to our partnership with French-Tahitian sailor Stephanie Betz of Archipelagoes, plus generous support from Tahiti Tourisme, Air Tahiti Nui, the Papeete Port Authority and other key partners.

Wind speeds were low, but spirits were high for the 15-mile crossing to Cook’s Bay, Moorea.

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These days, we’re proud to say that the annual, three-day Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendez-vous enjoys a stellar reputation, not only as a celebration of the fleet’s safe arrival in the islands, but as an exposition of revered Polynesian cultural traditions in music, dance, sport and cuisine. 

Determined cruisers tested their mettle during the fruit-carrier’s race, a centuries-old Polynesian relay where runners carry wooden staffs weighted with stalks of bananas.

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Last Friday, roughly 100 sailors from 10 nations gathered at the Tahiti Tourisme offices on the Papeete, Tahiti, quay for the event’s opening activities, which included a chart briefing on inter-island cruising, a cocktail reception and a high-energy dance show performed by a troupe of heavily tattooed Marquesans.

Saturday morning the fleet gathered outside the Papeete lagoon for the start of a 15-mile cruise-in-company to Cook’s Bay, on the neighboring island of Moorea. Ashore that afternoon at the Club Bali Hai — owned by former Newport Beach sailor Jay Carlisle — cruisers swapped crossing tales before a round of rum punch, a bountiful dinner, cruising presentations by event partners from New Zealand and Fiji, and a stunning performance by a troupe of fire dancers.

Tahitian dancers make their high-energy moves look easy, and visiting sailors are always encouraged to join the fun. 

© 2017 Julie Turpin

As in years past, Sunday’s schedule was focused on traditional Polynesian sports, the highlight of which was a series of six-person outrigger canoe races staged on the bay’s idyllic lagoon. We’re certain that all who paddled in those heart-pounding sprints beneath the towering peaks of Mt. Rotui (top photo) will not soon forget the experience.

Livin’ the dream. Sailors of all ages and all walks of life converged on the Rendez-vous, staged at Moorea’s idyllic Club Bali Hai hotel.

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Look for our complete report on this year’s Rendez-vous in the August issue of Latitude 38. And if you plan to sail west next season, mark your calendar: Tentative dates for the 2018 Rendez-vous are June 21-23.

Yacht Designer Doug Peterson Passes

Doug Peterson, one of the leading American yacht designers, passed away at the age of 71. Peterson was revered for his America’s Cup credentials, dominant offshore racing designs and sturdy cruising boats.

"I’ve met some very intelligent, even brilliant people over the years, but I can only claim to have met one true genius," wrote Paul Bishop, a former associate of Peterson’s, on Scuttlebutt. "If you never experienced Doug, you couldn’t understand." 

Doug Peterson was 71. He passed away on Monday in San Diego. 

© 2017 Wikipedia

Bishop said Peterson was the embodiment of one of the four major 20th-century design eras in naval architecture for yachts, which he listed as Herreshoff, Sparkman & Stephens, Farr and Peterson. Bishop also reminded sailors that the era in which Peterson’s designs were competing — the heyday of the SORC circuit and the Admiral’s Cup — were seminal events where designers competed with dozens of custom entries each year. 

"Doug’s designs won overall in seven of nine years, from ’75 to ’83. Utter domination of the very best," Bishop said.

Peterson went on to make his mark in the IACC era of the America’s Cup. He helped design America3 which won in 1992, and along with Laurie Davidson, co-designed Black Magic NZL 32, a boat that was remarkably different from — and faster than — any of its competitors, and easily won the Cup for New Zealand that year. Peterson’s Cup-winning streak was broken in 2000, when he headed the design team for the Luna Rossa challenge.

But Peterson was known for more than racing yachts. He built many solid cruisers, including the famed Peterson 44. "Today, in many major cruising ports you can find one of the over 200 44s originally built," said Cruising World. "Owners have nothing but praise for the performance achieved by this moderate-displacement bluewater design; 180-mile days are not uncommon."

A totally restored Peterson 44 — one of the great West Coast cruising boats — at the start of the Punta Mita Race in 2015, in a ‘Lectronic titled "Who says you can’t race your home." We’re sure Doug Peterson never would have said that.

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Kelly Peterson 44 was said to be "quite ahead of her time at her introduction in 1975," according to Blue Water Boats. "Legend has it Jack Kelly, a San Diego yacht broker in search of his ultimate cruising boat, approached Peterson. The plan was to build ten boats, sell nine, keeping one to sail away. A couple of hundred hulls later, Kelly hadn’t left for his voyage but had a thriving boat building business instead." 

Doug Peterson would "completely lock in on whatever task he decided to take on, with a laser-like focus, until he decided something else was the priority," Paul Bishop wrote. "Many days were fueled with nothing but good imported beer and handfuls of pistachio nuts. Anything else would be an unwanted distraction." 

Peterson will be inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, located in Bristol, Rhode Island, in October. Peterson is survived by four children.

The French-American 1917-2017 Bridge

One hundred years after American troops landed on French shores to come to the aid of the French during World War I, a new event has been created to honor this moment in history and the special relationship between our two countries.

"The Bridge" and its centennial transatlantic race are among the major events celebrating Franco-American solidarity and business ties. Four maxi-trimarans, the foundation of the burgeoning ‘Collectif Ultime’ league, have set sail to race from the bridge at Saint-Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire River to the Verrazano Bridge in New York, some 3,152 miles away.

Four maxi-trimarans, all right around 100-ft long, and one 1,138-ft ocean liner start The Bridge race from Saint-Nazaire, south of Brittany, to NYC.

© 2017 Benoit Stichelbaut / The Bridge

Further underscoring the unique nature of this one-off event, the four tris are in a friendly race against the Atlantic’s last transoceanic cruise liner, the Queen Mary 2. The ocean liner recently aided in the dramatic rescue of a distressed sailor during an OSTAR race that was riddled with carnage, in which five sailors from three different yachts were rescued.

With a complex weather scenario facing the four trimarans, the Queen Mary 2 has stepped out to a commanding lead as she steams straight down the rhumb line. Behind her however, the four fully-crewed multihulls are in a close battle, with the leaders now sailing upwind in moderate breeze after crossing the first of the depressions.

Having swapped the lead multiple times now, François Gabart on MACIF leads Francis Joyon’s IDEC Sport by about 25 miles as the boats approach the halfway point to the Big Apple. Thomas Coville’s Sodebo sits in third, 68 miles from the lead, while Yves Le Blevec’s Actual is around 200 miles back.

A view of the tracker as of this morning. The thing that looks like a suppository is actually a giant ocean liner. The red patch is an exclusion zone (icebergs?).

© The Bridge

Conditions don’t look especially quick on this east-to-west transatlantic crossing, so while we don’t expect the trimarans to catch up to the Queen Mary 2, we do expect to see some close, tactical racing. As the fleet continues to sail west, they should reach an area of high pressure and light winds before slingshotting themselves toward the center and then out the back of the next low-pressure system. Stay tuned to the tracker, the website, and theFacebook page for more updates on this unique race.

July Racing Preview

July 2017 overflows with days off: five full weekends plus a holiday (and no doubt some folks will turn Independence Day into a four-day weekend). How many days on the water can you rack up in this shining month of abundance?

For starters, look no further than our own Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay. Chairman Don Ahrens reminds us that, "We have a number of races coming up in July including an OYRA race to Half Moon Bay on July 1, the Westpoint Regatta on July 15, the YRA Summer Series on July 22 and the 2nd Half Opener on July 29-30." See Latitude 38’s YRA Sailing Calendar.

The J/88 White Shadow approaches the finish of the Westpoint Regatta in the windy, sunny micro-climate south of the San Mateo Bridge.

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The 49th Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu will start on July 3, 5 and 6. The crossing will be bookended by parties. Those of us left behind on the Mainland will be able to follow the race on the tracker.

Half the fun of an ocean destination race — be it the Transpac or the Half Moon Bay Race — is hanging out at the host yacht club afterward, reliving the on-the-water thrills with fellow crew and competitors.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The SSS LongPac, a race to a longitudinal point in the Pacific Ocean (and back), will start on July 5 and serve as a qualifier for next year’s Singlehanded TransPac, but doublehanded entries are welcome too. See

On the same day as the Westpoint Regatta — and covering some of the same geography — will be Bay View Boat Club’s infamous Plastic Classic, a race around the cans south of the Bay Bridge for vintage fiberglass boats. Originally intended for boats built in the ’60s and ’70s, entries need only be 25 years old or more. Heck, that includes millennials! Don’t miss the chance to visit the BVBC clubhouse, which seems like an endangered species in its Mission Bay perch, and check out the Concours d’Elegance too. Sequoia YC in Redwood City will host the post-Westpoint Regatta party.

Yet another race on July 15 that might appeal to a broad audience is San Francisco YC’s Midnight Moonlight Maritime Marathon, a loop from Raccoon Strait up to the Carquinez Bridge and back.

Trailer-sailors who were skunked during the drought will thrill to the plentiful water in Huntington Lake for a series of regattas in July, most notably the High Sierra Regatta weekends put on by Fresno YC.

Championship regattas this month include the Laser Masters Nationals on the Columbia River Gorge July 7-9, and the Melges 24 North Americans July 17-22, both hosted by the CGRA in Oregon. Tahoe YC will host the Laser Nationals/US Singlehanded Championship on July 19-23. Encinal YC will host the Santana 22 Nationals on July 21-23.

We’ve reached the end of the time/space continuum for this morning’s ‘Lectronic, so these are just a few highlights. For many more options, be sure to pick up the July issue of Latitude 38, coming out on Friday.

It’s all over. Peter Burling, the youngest helmsmen to ever win the Cup, hoists the Auld Mug.
In 2017 Yucca is celebrating both her 80th birthday and a new ‘caretaker’ to follow Hank Easom’s 53-year stewardship.
Glenn Tieman aboard the magnificent Manu Rere in Turtle Bay in 2008. latitude/Richard
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC “Oh God, my life is destroyed!”