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May 23, 2018

Volvo Fleet Splits from Newport

Leg 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race got underway on Sunday from Newport, Rhode Island, bound for Cardiff, Wales. Late into this edition of the VOR and with a very tight battle at the top of the leaderboard, the transatlantic leg carries added significance as it’s the final double-points leg of the race. After a stopover that was mostly cold and foggy with very little breeze, the Sunday morning start from Newport saw brilliant sunshine and usable breeze to get the fleet out of Narragansett Bay and out to sea. Once again, Newport proved to be a spectacular stopover for the race, and massive fleets of spectator boats shadowed the start on Sunday.

Team Brunel leads the fleet out of Newport, RI, on Sunday morning under brilliant sunshine and champagne conditions. This was just a day after Brunel won the in-port race in gray, foggy, almost-drifting conditions. The Dutch team skippered by Bouwe Bekking has been on form as of late.

© Jesus Renedo / Volvo Ocean Race

A day after winning the in-port race, Team Brunel continued their charge of late by leading the fleet out of Newport. As soon as the boats got out to sea, they began riding a depression that rocketed them toward Wales at 20+ knots of boatspeed and what may have been the defining moment in this leg: whether to head north or south. Team Brunel, AkzoNobel, Vestas/11th Hour Racing and Scallywag chose the southerly option while Dongfeng, MAPFRE and Turn the Tide on Plastic chose the northerly option. A split of more than 300 miles opened up at one point, with the southerly boats looking good. As of this writing, however, there’s almost nothing in it as both packs of boats are essentially tied on the tracker and beginning to converge on the water.

Australian America’s Cup and VOR superstar Kyle Langford goes over the side to evaluate rudder damage. Team Brunel was said to have sustained a collision to the port rudder last night. There is damage to the foil, but it’s not deemed to be structural. One only has to think back to VORs of the past where rudder damage in the Atlantic played a massive role, such as in 2012 when the Spanish Telefonica team broke two rudders, and the French Groupama team went on to eventually win.

© Volvo Ocean Race

"I think it’s the first time in this race we’ve seen a split in the fleet this big," said MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernandez. Xabi’s team is locked in a championship battle with Dongfeng, who not surprisingly are headed in the same direction as MAPFRE. As the fleet begins to encounter their second depression and come back together, they’ve just recently gotten back into full-send conditions and are again averaging 20 knots or more. Leading the southerly pack and at the top of the tracker is Team Brunel, who has finally begun to live up to their pre-race hype in the second half of the Volvo Ocean Race. If Brunel could win this leg and put a few boats between themselves and MAPFRE and Dongfeng, we could essentially have a three-way tie for the overall race lead headed down the home stretch. That’s a big ask, however, as the northerly boats are getting the strongest winds first and have a more direct course for Wales.

The tracker shows how wide the split was — around 300 miles at one point — as teams went north and south to sail toward Cardiff and the second low-pressure system of this leg. The North Atlantic in spring is certainly active, creating a highly tactical transatlantic leg in which anything could happen.

© 2018 Volvo Ocean Race

The fleet is coming in hot for Europe, and no one’s holding anything back. Blink and you’ll miss it; they should be in Wales by early next week.

God’s Reefing System

Last Saturday was crazy windy (again). While some battled their way to the Farallones and back singlehanded, others fought it out on the Berkeley Circle in San Francisco Yacht Club’s Elite Keel Regatta. On Saturday, Rich Jepsen and crew, sailing aboard Anthony Sandberg’s IOD Cedric, had vang issues forcing them to retire. After solving their vang problems, they were looking forward to Sunday.

Rich tidying up after the ‘get off the race course’ message became crystal clear.  

Rich Jepsen
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Despite mellower conditions the next day, the Supreme Being decided Saturday’s ‘get off the race course’ message hadn’t satisfied the mysterious objective, so the top half the rig came down due to a weather upper shroud failure on the first upwind leg of the first race — Cedric was in first place, by the way. Still, the crew was able to claim three ‘firsts’ of a different sort for the weekend. Luckily no one was hurt, but it’s no fun to go out for a two-race weekend and have every combo of ‘D’ represented on your five-race tally: DNF, DNS, DNC. Reminds us of our grade school report card. This is going to take a little more repair work than Saturday’s vang problem. We hope to see Cedric sailing soon.

Storm One

After last year’s hurricane season, we all might be paying a little more attention as this year’s season begins on June 1. But Mother Nature doesn’t follow anyone’s calendar but her own. Meteorologist J. McGuinnes of Weather Routing, Inc., informed us that the first Southeast Pacific subtropical cyclone on record occurred the week of May 6, 2018. It was spotted off the coast of Chile and lasted several days, with sustained thunderstorm activity and winds reaching as high as 45 knots (~50mph). According to WRI, this is an extremely rare phenomenon. The formation of tropical/subtropical cyclones in the Southeast Pacific basin is incredibly rare. In fact, no other systems have ever been recorded anywhere close to this recent storm.

These are good things to keep an eye on in the months ahead. But no one expects a low so low in southern latitudes. 

© 2018 NOAA

The Ditch Run and the Doo Dah

Surrounded by race boats like Moore 24s and Santa Cruz and Express 27s, Larry Samson’s Catalina 30 Summerwind cruises back to her homeport of Stockton Sailing Club in the ‘Doo Dah Ditch Run’. They’re approaching daymark 17, which means notorious 19, the only turning mark on the course, is next!

©2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It’s not summer yet, but action in the California Delta, on the water and on the waterfront, is heating up. On June 2, roughly 150 boats from all over the western United States will sail upriver from Richmond to Stockton. Most will be racing; maybe 20 or so will be cruising. A few years back, destination host Stockton Sailing Club partnered with the Delta Doo Dah to help grow the Cruising Class. Thus was born the ‘Doo Dah Ditch Run‘.

On Friday, June 1, much of the fleet will gather at Richmond Yacht Club, which hosts the start. RYC serves dinner on Friday nights, and the bar will be open, but bring cash. Call the harbormaster, John, at (510) 234-6959 if you need to make arrangements to bring your boat in. A burrito breakfast with sides is available for $8 on Saturday morning; RYC volunteers ask that you order online in advance. Also on the event storefront, you can purchase bus tickets to aid with logistics for the crew. There’s a bus from SSC to RYC at 6 a.m., and another at 11 p.m.

It’s a long day and 67 miles of sailing, but when that buzzer sounds at the SSC clubhouse, and the crowd on the lawn lets out a cheer, you realize that they’re cheering for you, and you know you’ve really accomplished something. A big party will follow the race, with a BBQ dinner, Mt. Gay rum and other drinks, and a live dance band. We recommend sticking around for breakfast and the awards ceremony on Sunday morning.

Doug McDougall, of the Newport 28 Elli, won this beautiful stained-glass award in the Cruising Division in last year’s Doo Dah Ditch Run.

©2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

After the awards, we plan to hand out some door prizes to official Delta Doo Dah entries (must be present to win). We have a box full of DEET-free insect-repellent products from BugBand to give away, plus four cans of Mini Firefighter, an easy-to-use, less-messy supplement to your USCG-required fire extinguishers.

Entries for the Delta Ditch Run will close at 10 p.m. a week from today, May 30. Registration in Delta Doo Dah X will remain open until the end of August.

SSC invites Doo Dah Ditch Run sailors to keep their boats in the harbor for free for up to two weeks after the race. That’s perfect timing for the next Doo Dah event, because two weeks after the Ditch Run, Owl Harbor in Isleton will host their big BBQ shindig on the afternoon of Saturday, June 16. The marina will provide free food and drinks for two people per boat in the marina; additional guests can purchase meal/drink bands for $10 each. Reserve a slip and RSVP for the BBQ at (916) 777-6055. Additionally, Owl Harbor is offering one free night to registered DDD participants with a minimum two-night stay.

It was so hot last year that Owl Harbor’s BBQ moved inside, into their air conditioned clubhouse. Kites were the theme — and the raffle prizes!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Delta sometimes seems to sailors like it’s dominated by power boats. But when sailors arrive at Owl Harbor or SSC they find themselves right at home amid a forest of masts.

Out on the Bay
In the 8 a.m. hour it was already breeze-on for the competitors in the Singlehanded Farallones Race on Saturday.
Did you get it?
Last week, Ernest Galvan sent us this photo, promoting a pop DIY quiz: "This is a combination DIY," wrote Ernest Galvan.
Avid Bay Area racer, Helmut ‘Willi’ Zarth is this month’s winner of Latitude 38 logowear.