July 5, 2017

Transpac Starts in Light Conditions

The Calgary, Canada-flagged Hobie 33 Dark Star is the smallest boat in the 2017 Transpac.

© Sharon Green / Ultimate Sailing

The first three divisions of 17 entries started the 49th biennial Transpacific Race on Monday; more divisions will depart for Honolulu today. Monday’s fleet set sail under sunny skies and light winds at 1 p.m. bound for the 2,225-mile-distant finish at Diamond Head in Honolulu.

Two Cal 40s, Sequoia, which owner Fred Cook restored and refitted over a two-year period at Berkeley Marine Center, and Rodney Pimentel’s Alameda-based Azure, started with Division 7 on Monday. Azure is currently leading the fleet for line honors.

© 2017 Doug Gifford / Ultimate Sailing

Today’s second wave of 16 starters will get underway from the Point Fermin starting area at 1 p.m. You can follow along by virtue of the tracker at https://2017.transpacyc.com, where you’ll also find details about the race and more photos from the startline.

Monday’s start off the cliffs of San Pedro in Los Angeles. The boat that appears to be winning the start is Hiroshige Ikeda’s Osaka, Japan-flagged XP44 Draconis.

© Doug Gifford / Ultimate Sailing

Another Pacific Ocean race starts today from San Francisco. The Great Pacific Longitudinal Race (LongPac) has 13 entries, of which a dozen are singlehanded and only one is doublehanded. The fleet will sail out into the ocean for 200 miles, turn around, and sail back. The singlehanders will thus qualify to enter next year’s Singlehanded TransPac.

Yet another race to Hawaii, the 20th Pacific Cup has 38 signups, the organizers of the 2018 race from San Francisco to Kaneohe Bay on Oahu reported yesterday.

We Swear This Is the Last America’s Cup Story

Like a fun, loud and slightly annoying friend who’s overstayed their welcome, the America’s Cup just never seems to go away — even though it came to a decisive conclusion a week ago, which we analyzed at length in the July issue.

But we wanted to take this chance to share some of your feedback about the modern Cup. We promise, this will be the last America’s Cup story . . . until the next one, as Team Emirates New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton promised news in the coming weeks about the much-anticipated format of the 36th Match.

Peter Burling and Glenn Ashby (who was one of the few non-Kiwis sailing for Emirates) raise the Cup for Team New Zealand the first time in 17 years.

© 2017 Louis Kruk

But we get it. The Cup seems to suck the sailing headlines dry. As Curt Simpson wrote: "Time to look forward to two years of no AC press." We’ll do our best, and look forward to getting back to some local sailing. As always, we’d like to thank all of you who wrote in to our editorial email and on Facebook. We can’t get to all your comments, but here are a few highlights: 

Tom LeDuc wrote one of our favorite responses, which both summarizes the majority of comments we heard (where most people liked the new format as well as the old) and offered what we thought was an ingenious suggestion for a new hybird-format: 

We know you’ve seen a gazillion amazing pictures of these boats by now, but our hat’s off to Louis Kruk for finding a fresh angle.  

© 2017 Louis Kruk

"I’m not thrilled that the race was held in Bermuda. In San Francisco, or almost any other location they have used, it was possible to go there for a day, visit the Cup Village, and watch the races from shore. Now it’s on a small island with zero opportunity for a casual, spontaneous visit. 

"As far as the boats, I do like the high tech, go fast multihulls, but understand the draw and ‘soul’ of the more classic boats. We had a chance to go for a sail on the replica of the America when it visited Monterey, and that gives me an idea:

"What I would like to see, but have no illusions of it happening, is a combination of the two. Run the Cup races in whatever zoomy new type they choose, but have at least one race in the finals sailed in replicas of the schooner America that started all this. Same helmsman and crew as they use in the other races in the final. I think they could build two replicas for much less than they spend on one of the foiling cats (Ellison could write that check from petty cash). Same size, shape and sail plan as the original America, but allow modern materials; Fiberglass or other composite hull, modern cordage for rigging but no winches that weren’t on the original, no sail material newer than Dacron. Fun to imagine, right?"

At 37 years old, some people wonder what’s next for Jimmy Spithill. With his upbeat and quippy personality, we hope to see him in front of the camera as much as possible.  

© 2017 Louis Kruk

David Turpin wrote: "I think the boats are technological masterpieces, but the human element of sailing the boat has almost disappeared. There are some tactical decisions to be made at the start and on the course, and the wings and foresail are trimmed manually, but mostly everybody except the skipper just grinds/pedals the whole way around the course and might as well be replaced by machinery. The absence of downwind sails requiring sail changes takes out the element of coordinated crew work that is the essence of all other forms of racing."

Peter Burling seems to be firmly at the helm of the modern America’s Cup. Will he be offered boatloads of money by a foreign challenger someday, or will he lead Team New Zealand indefinitely into the future?  

© 2017 Louis Kruk

Jonathan Ogle said that "the America’s Cup is supposed to be a match race between a defending yacht club representing its country and the best of the challenging countries. The boats have changed over the years and the foiling cats are OK (but have no elegance or much difference between upwind and downwind sailing), but it is a mistake to run the races all over the world year in and year out with whatever sailors money can buy and pretend it is the America’s Cup. The America’s Cup became coveted because it was only the best sailors, limited to nations (not corporations or billionaire individuals) so that a country’s population could get behind it, and occur infrequently, like the Olympics. The Grand Prix foiling cat circuit may be a good idea, but keep it separate from the America’s Cup." 

Mike Wilcox was one of the few pure fans on the modern Cup: "I love the format and the boats. I’m a monohull sailor, of course, but the venue, the boats and the format are great. The sailors (not the grinders) are the best sailboat racers in the world, with numerous AC veterans and Olympic champions in the mix. If they hadn’t pushed the technology the way they did, thanks to Russell Coutts and others, we would be watching an old men’s weekend sport instead of the spectacle we are being treated to this month.

"The coverage is fantastic — Ken Read, AC skipper extraordinaire and excellent sportscaster, brings on an assortment of assembled experts. He had Paul Cayard fielding questions from the press boat during the race. Cayard is my hero since I raced against him in San Francisco (mostly a losing effort, BTW).

"I can’t get over the on-the-water views during the races. Those boats have at least a dozen cameras on each one. When Nathan Outteridge — helmsman of Artemis — fell in the water, we got to see it from three different angles (he ended up wet every time). During the races we can hear the running commentary between Outteridge and Iain Percy, the tactician. They even show the heart rate monitors for every crew in real time and make fun of which skipper is the most excited."

Thanks again for all your comments, everyone. Signing off from all things AC for now, until there’s something worthy to report on — hopefully not a lawsuit. 

Crew List Party Couple in France

While on assignment in Toul, France, to investigate whether the Wanderer was being hyperbolic about the pleasures of canal boating, Latitude’s Mitch Perkins and a friend were ‘tooling’ through scenic waterways when they docked their boat Marjani near Lynn and Jack Robinson of Fort Collins, Colorado. As it turns out the couple had some deep roots in Latitude 38 circles.

Lynn and Jack Robinson of Fort Collins, Colorado, strike the Latitude pose in France.

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

One chat led to another, and Lynn shared some great stories about her illustrious sailing adventures. She met her first husband at a Latitude Crew List Party in 1980. In 1994 she attended her second Crew List Party at Golden Gate Yacht Club (we’re pretty sure) where she met a nice sailor who invited her to crew on a Westsail 42 named Synergy.

But around midnight of the their first day out of San Diego, Synergy t-boned a Hunter 40 and ended her maiden Ha-Ha voyage. Undaunted, Lynn made her way onto another boat and ended up in Cabo. That’s where she met Jack, who was apparently waiting for Lynn before following his sailing dreams.

Lynn and Jack continue to sail all over the world on their two boats. They own a Catalac 40 built by English catamaran guru Tom Lack (Cat-a-Lac, get it?), and one of their many voyages included doing the Great Loop. When they’re not sailing, the couple is cruising the canals of Europe on their Dutch-built DeGroot cruiser.

Lynn Robinson in Toul, which sits in northeastern France (the Tour de France pedaled through bucolic Toul yesterday). 

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Lynn hadn’t seen the Wanderer since the ’94 Ha-Ha but they crossed paths in a lock on some charming canal surrounded by bucolic countryside between some fairytale European villages.

We definitely suggest going to a Crew List Party. You just might find that not everything is hyperbole.

In one of the more bizarre races of the year, the Queen Mary 2 has beaten four maxi-trimarans in a race from France to New York.
In an April ‘Lectronic Latitude, we asked our readers to comment on a new Boater Identification law set to take effect in 2018, when California will begin to gradually roll out a requirement for certain motorized marine vessels — including sailboats with motors — to carry proof that they’ve taken a safety course.