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October 25, 2017

Escape From Al-Cat-Traz

On the left-hand boat and peering out of a porthole is a cat that cannnot be contained.  

© 2017 Quincey Cummings

My wife Quincey Cummings and I recently moved onto a friend’s beautifully finished West Sail 32, Costanza, while our Fuji 32 Windrose was in the yard. Not adjusting well to the move was our cat (‘Pandacat’). As this was a new place for her, we made it a priority to batten down the hatches in order to keep her aboard. Sometimes we call her Houdini-cat, a nickname that would turn out to be quite fitting.

"Panda: Pirate Queen of Cats!" wrote Quincey Cummings on Instagram.

© 2017 Quincey Cummings

Quincey dropped off the cat and walked back to our boat to pack. About 20 minutes later, Quincey heard the bell in the cockpit of Windrose. It was Panda, aka Houdini. Scratching our heads, we moved the cat back over to Costanza.

 . . . And lands successfully back at home.

© 2017 Quincey Cummings

Minutes later . . . and out of thin air . . . Panda had escaped again! Long story short (and after my initial denial), the cat was jumping out of an eight-inch portlight. New nicknames are Porthole Kitty and Rocket-cat.

Mitch Andrus (left) poses with Pandacat when she’s not in full escape mode.  

© 2017 Quincey Cummings

Do you have a good pet photo or story? Please, send them here.

Another Charter Option Besides Turkey

"Come on in, the water’s fine!" The waters of Croatia are every bit as lovely as those in Turkey. 

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Now that the squabble between the United States and Turkey has escalated to the point of denying visas to citizens of the respective countries, you may want to rethink plans for a sailing charter in Turkey next summer. Bummer, because Turkey has lovely cruising, great food and, other than some fanatics, wonderful people.

War torn in the 1990s, Croatia is now home to one of the most popular charter venues in the world. People are finding that it’s more fun to sail than kill each other. 

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In an ‘adapt or die’ world, you may want to think about chartering in Croatia instead.

Croatia has an abundance of anchorages that offer excellent protection. 

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In the November issue of Latitude, Andrew Vik of San Francisco walks down memory lane about his 10 years of owning the Islander 36 Geja in the Med. He’s spent most of his time in Croatia for good reason — it’s wonderful. You’ll be able to get an idea from the accompanying photos.

Geja shows that there is often great sailing in Croatia. 

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In Praise of Club Racing

Casual club racing brings an alternative style to the normally very competitive and very challenging high-profile sailing events found on San Francisco Bay. These events usually operate quietly in the background of the YRA season, the OYRA season, Rolex Big Boat Series, Etchells Worlds, Express 27 Nationals and an endless number of other events vying to attract significant fleets.

The eclectic collection of boats that hit the starting line in a club race means it’s really hard for any rating rule to come close to the precision desired in more competitive arenas. Who cares? Club racing has a higher purpose. It’s meant to get owners out on the water and create some camaraderie with a friendly competition among club members, yet allow winners to emerge with bragging rights.

Club racing is a great way to get on the water, connect with friends, and tune up your sailing skills. Though you can sense the tension. 

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The recently completed five-race Corinthian YC club series is a case in point.  The boats on the starting line for last Saturday’s Ross Wood figure-eight course either way around Angel and Alcatraz was a rating-rule brainiac’s nightmare. The boats on the line included a Cal 20, Pearson 10M, Melges 32, Cal 33, Melges 20, K6 sportboat, Express 27, our Ranger 33, Catalina 34, Hunter 380, J/105 and a Beneteau 10R. Probably an unsolvable riddle for ratings geeks and not even worth the time to try to figure it out. PHRF is close enough.

The main point is have some fun and get back to the club to curse the winner. If you don’t like the tension of a crowded start line then just hold back and start a little later. If you fall so far behind you might miss the awards ceremony, then turn on the engine and get back to the club. And, if you do it enough, you’ll probably get better at racing and sailing while having a good time with your friends.

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In club racing you celebrate eighth place with gusto!

Summer Sailstice
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We had a great time sailing our Ranger 33 Summer Sailstice, though we know we would have won if our rating against eventual series winner, the Melges 32 Kuai, had been better. Can anyone with an HP Scientific Calculator help?

Volvo Ocean and Rolex Middle Sea Races

Aboard Turn the Tide on Plastic at the start of the Volvo Ocean Race in the Med on October 22.

© Jen Edney / Volvo Ocean Race

Leg 1 of the 13th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race began on Sunday in Alicante, Spain, when the fleet of seven Volvo 65 monohulls set off for the lengthened 1,600-plus-mile leg to Lisbon, Portugal. For many, including the embattled Team AkzoNobel, it was surely a relief to finally leave the dock after months of anticipation. Poor management of the start saw countless spectator boats littered throughout the course, causing some downright terrifying (and extremely dangerous) moments for many as the fleet flew downwind, oftentimes within a meter or less of packed spectator boats. Once the fleet finished a quick inshore course in Alicante, they sped off downwind toward Gibraltar in a breeze that built to 35+ knots, propelling the boats to speeds well into the 20s as they jibed their way toward the Strait of Gibraltar.

Spectator boats too close? Ya think?

© Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

The American/Danish entry Vestas/11th Hour Racing, skippered by Charlie Enright of Newport, RI, played the southern coast of Spain to find better pressure than her rivals and jump out to a commanding lead exiting the Mediterranean and entering the North Atlantic Ocean. Just over three days into the race as of this morning, Vestas/11th Hour still holds on to a lead of just a few miles, having gone back and forth with Spanish entry MAPFRE, on the official ranking at least. The AkzoNobel crew, surely happy to be far away from land at the moment, are currently in third place and round out the group of boats that have gotten an early jump on the fleet, as the remaining four teams (Dongfeng, Brunel, Scallywag and Turn the Tide on Plastic) are in a tight pack some 30 miles off the pace.

Turn the Tide chases Vestas at the start.

© James Blake / Volvo Ocean Race

Beating into a light southerly now, the teams are expected to round the tiny island of Porto Santo in the Madeira archipelago in a building breeze that will allow them solid running conditions. The conditions will be short-lived however, as another transition zone and then light to moderate headwinds are forecast to fill in for the teams as they make their way around a recently added waypoint north of Porto Santo and then on to the finish in Lisbon. The fleet is expected to finish Leg 1 on Sunday. Check back in with ‘Lectronic Latitude for continuing coverage of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Elsewhere in the Med, the American maxi-yacht Rambler 88, skippered by George David, stormed to a decisive line-honors victory in the Rolex Middle Sea Race. While the biggest boats were able to make it around the course, fully sending it in strong downwind conditions to the finish, roughly half of the fleet chose to retire as the Mistral breeze filled in and whipped up an atrocious sea state.

Rambler 88 smashes through big seas in the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

© Kurt Arrigo / Rolex

The Bay Area’s Hartwell Jordan was sailing on Jens Kellinghusen’s Ker 56 Varuna and texted us the following message in regard to how bad the sea state was: "We were 40-50 minutes from turning down at Trapani, and were ready to let the beast hunt… The boat dropped off two or four really big, short waves and fully delaminated a big section between ring frames in the bow, or we hit something… Very bummed, but glad all of us, and the boat, are safe." Recent offshore convert and renowned Melges 20 sailor Igor Rytov and his Russian-crewed JPK 1080 Bogatyr claimed the overall victory on corrected time.

It was a do-good, feel-good, sail-good kind of day. San Francisco Yacht Club’s 12th annual Pacific Union Leukemia Cup Regatta made for a stunning day on the water, as well as another stunning result on the fundraising mission. 
What would you do if you wanted to amp up the drama surrounding the America’s Cup?
There are lots of treasures scattered among our monthly Classy Classifieds. As you look through the boats, you find each has a story and heritage, as well as a future waiting to happen.