Skip to content
March 16, 2018

Young Crew Heads to Southern Ocean

A damp moment for the Vestas/11th Hour crew, sailing in the Southern Ocean during Leg 3, Cape Town to Melbourne, of the Volvo Ocean Race. The competitors will return to the Southern Ocean in the next leg of the around-the-world race.

© 2018 Sam Greenfield / Volvo Ocean Race

On Sunday, the seven-strong Volvo Ocean Race fleet will leave Auckland, New Zealand, on Leg 7 of the toughest stretch of this grueling race that takes the one-design Volvo Ocean 65s through 7,600 miles of the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn, where they’ll deal with conditions from howling winds, freezing cold and icebergs, to a return to the tropics as they approach the finish in Brazil. Skippering the Clean Seas/Turn the Tide on Plastic team, Dee Caffari is drawing upon her five previous trips racing around the world as she heads into this challenging leg with her young crew, many of whom are first-timers in the race.

Dee Caffari and Tony Rae during in-port race practice in Auckland, NZ.

© 2018 Michelle Slade

We caught up with Clean Seas in Auckland to learn more about Caffari’s unique team, as well as her connection to West Coast racing. Caffari is a friend of the Bay Area’s Liz Baylis — the pair raced together in the 2017 Coastal Cup and Transpac on Michael Moradzadeh’s Tiburon-based Santa Cruz 50 Oaxaca. A 45-year old Brit, Caffari is hoping to race again on Oaxaca in this year’s Pacific Cup.

She was presented with a formidable challenge in her debut as a VOR skipper: Put together a mixed-nationality team of under-30s, 50% female and 50% male. It’s an experiment that under Caffari’s care, with guidance from Tony Rae, a Kiwi sailor who has competed in the VOR six times and America’s Cup seven times, is going exceptionally well.

“I’m loving the project because it’s so different,” Caffari said. “When the organizers threw all those challenges at me, I got reflective as to why I was doing this, but when I put all my experience together, it probably led me to this place anyway. Working with this team is really rewarding; to see them grow on every leg is great. They’re hungry and enthusiastic and love what they are doing.”

Crew work on March 9 during race practice.

© 2018 Michelle Slade

The team got a very late start to the race, and, as Rae recalls, the experience on board initially was raw. “They’re all talented sailors across different areas, but, for example, the dinghy sailors among them didn’t really understand the loads and how to load a winch safely. There were times when I had to step in where safety was an issue. My focus has been how to get this boat and team safely from A to B, as fast as possible but also as safe as possible.”

Rae says the difference in the team since the start has been rewarding. “It’s the cool thing about this race and always has been since the first time I did it in 1985. You go from sailing on weekends where you slowly build up miles, to racing 24/7 and it’s all you are doing and thinking about. Your knowledge and learning curve — whether it’s driving or trimming techniques — is massive.”

While the team is not breaking any records, currently sitting in seventh position with just 11 points, Caffari says Clean Seas’ sustainability agenda has been a great success. “Young people on board are the best messengers — they are genuinely concerned and want to make a better environment for their children with a decent ocean and healthy lifestyle. When I listen to them communicating Clean Sea’s message it’s genuine; I’m not having to give them a corporate message that they have to deliver.”

Clean Seas/Turn the Tide on Plastic as seen from Brunel during the New Zealand Herald In-Port Race.

© 2018 Yann Riou / Volvo Ocean Race

With one Southern Ocean leg under their belt (Leg 3), Dee’s crew has expectations in line as they head to Cape Horn. “They know how cold, windy and miserable it is, although they’ve probably forgotten as we’ve just been in the tropics the last few months — but it’ll come back to them quickly!”

Input Sought on Sailing Injury Survey

A team of medical students is conducting a survey to review the illnesses and injuries that sailors encounter while on the water, anchored or moored, and they’re asking for your help. The students are interested in learning more about what specific events occurred and how they were managed from a medical perspective. The purpose of this questionnaire is to get an idea of what kinds of injuries and illnesses the sailing community faces and their level of medical preparedness.

After we reported on a  sailor who came to the aid of a sea lion attack victim, reader John Henry took the opportunity to remind us that "few people realize that uncontrolled bleeding is the number-one cause of preventable death from trauma." Sailing and cruising can involve unique medical situations in remote areas with no immediate assistance available.

© John Henry

If you’d like to take the survey, please go to this link.

MEXORC: Quality Racing in the Tropics

The 2018 edition of the Mexican Ocean Racing Championships (MEXORC) has just drawn to a close, capping off a few solid weeks of sailing for many of the West Coast’s finest sailors and programs. Taking place in and around beautiful Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay immediately after the fleet races down from California (this year it was the San Diego to PV Race that served as the ‘feeder’ race; more on that in the April issue of Latitude 38), MEXORC incorporates a beautiful tropical destination with quality — though not too terribly serious — racing and a diverse fleet of yachts from Mexico and the US. With windward-leeward racing, ‘random leg’ racing, point-to-point racing and more, MEXORC is a bucket-list regatta for many.

Flat water, beautiful scenery, brilliant weather and consistent mellow winds make Banderas Bay and MEXORC an absolutely incredible event. From what we can tell, almost every photo of MEXORC looked pretty much perfect.


Fresh after racing down and claiming a first-in-class and second overall in the PV Race, Viggo Torbensen’s J/125 Timeshaver was getting into her groove after a slow start to her MEXORC regatta when the masthead crane broke off! Fortunately the rig stayed upright and no one was hurt. The other J/125 in the fleet, Mark Surber’s San Diego-based Derivative went on to win the entire MEXORC regatta overall, putting up a near picket fence of firsts, with their only second place being to Timeshaver. In a fleet of 29 yachts ranging from 37-ft cruisers to Farr 40s to TP52s to 70-ft sleds, the legendary J/125 has again shown her legendary speed and versatility. Second overall was the Club Swan 42 Supersonico, followed by a trio of Farr 40 one-design racers rounding out the top five.

After finishing first in class and second overall in the race down from San Diego, Viggo Torbensen’s J/125 broke off the masthead crane! Fortunately, the rig stayed up and no one was hurt. The team is surely happy that this didn’t break when they were ‘sending it’ into PV with the A5 up!

© Keith Magnussen / Timeshaver Racing

Right after MEXORC ended on Wednesday, a dozen teams prepared themselves and their boats to race down to Acapulco as the third and final leg of their winter adventure. With many of the best racing boats in Mexico (and on the West Coast) being based in Acapulco, this is essentially a delivery race back home after a long month of sailing that went as far north as San Diego. Cruisers and Farr 40s started yesterday, while the sleds and maxis start today.

Spring Is Coming

How do we know? Besides all of the allergy sneezing, a quick look at the Northern California Racing Calendar shows nine separate events scheduled for Saturday and five more on Sunday.

When we looked at the weather earlier in the week, it looked like the gods were reserving the weekend for sailors.

© 2018 Weather Undergound

The races themselves boast names that haven’t quite made up there minds which season it is. One is called the BAYS Winter Series, for example, and another Winter #5 St. Patrick’s Day Race at Sequoia Yacht Club. But on the same day as these winter races, there’s also Oakland YC’s Rites of Spring and the Spring One-Design Regatta at St. Francis YC. So we guess it’s ‘choose your season’.

Spring sailing in the Bay often means gray clouds and unpredictable winds. This shot is from last April, sailing with Bruce and Gail Sinclair on their Mull 30 Shadow at the beginning of Vallejo Yacht Club’s beer can series.

©2018Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Of course that’s just the racing calendar. Most people know that to sail, you don’t have to race, but for some, that’s the only thing that gets them on the water. Dennis Conner once said, "I hate sailing. I like racing."

OK, so the early forecast didn’t hold up. The weather is still better than it’s been this past week, and you’ll be sailing!

© 2018 Weather Undergound

Let us know what you get up to — there’s surely some good sailing ahead this weekend. And, if you’re on a race course, good luck!

What’s the only thing better than the waters of San Rafael? The hills of San Rafael, which reveal an amazing, awe-inspiring view of said water.
A few weeks ago we reported on an unfortunate incident near the entrance to the Oakland Estuary.
Foggy Friday at the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup Regatta for 10 collegiate teams sailing matched Catalina 37s.