As of this writing, just 10 yachts have completed the 74th running of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. But by the time you’re reading this, boats should be finishing in droves as various classes begin to arrive in Hobart, seemingly in lockstep. A result of the conditions being uncharacteristically pleasant and benign, the normal rates of attrition and heavy-weather boat handling missteps have been replaced by close tactical battles all the way down the race course in relatively light winds.
At the head of the fleet, four 100-foot supermaxis raced closer than ever before, with Jim Cooney’s VPLP 100 Comanche leading most of the way to Hobart, only to get ground down in the end by the two skinnier Reichel-Pugh 100-footers Wild Oats XI and Black Jack. For the Oatley family’s R/P 100 Wild Oats XI — the perennial darling of the Australian yachting media — it is her ninth line honors victory, only furthering her status as the most famous and successful yacht in the history of the race. Behind the four 100-footers, it was an R/P 66 match race between local Tasmanian boat Alive and Wild Oats X. The smaller maxi yacht in the Oatley family’s stable of race boats had been loaned to an all-female crew of professional sailors led by Australian Volvo Ocean Race alumna Stacey Jackson. Unfortunately, the women got pipped by the local Tassie boat to the tune of just under 13 minutes over the 628-mile course.
Seventh over the finish line was the Mills 68 Prospector — the overall winner of the 2018 Pacific Cup race — followed by a former Bay Area boat, Voodoo, which used to lay down tracks as Frank Slootman’s old Transpac division-winning R/P 63 Invisible Hand. Ninth over the line was Matt Allen’s Carkeek 60, which is on loan and being raced this year as Winning Appliances, with both John Winning Sr. and Jr. aboard. Also aboard is the Bay Area’s Johnny Goldsberry, who’s been killing it on the Facebook live feeds, and two-time surfing world champion John John Florence who is racing in his first Hobart.
Behind the big boats that finish first and garner most of the glory, the overall winner usually emerges, and this year could be no different. Dominating the record-setting fleet of TP 52s since the start, Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban still has a shot at successfully defending her overall IRC crown from last year, though any light-air slowdown in the Derwent River could instead hand the overall win over to Philip Turner’s Hobart, Tasmania-based R/P 66 Alive. The rest of the fleet, including the slower and smaller boats, should encounter more variable and inconsistent conditions over the next few days, eliminating any chance of a David and Goliath scenario in this year’s race. Ron O’Hanley’s American entry Privateer, a Cookson 50, currently sits well inside the top ten overall on corrected time.
“What in the world is that thing?” Max Ebb asked Lee Helm.
“Upwind Intuition,” Lee Helm grinned. “This is a hands-on device to address the first fundamental intuitive leap that new sailors have to take. After they play with this for a few minutes they will understand, at least sort of, how upwind sailing works and, like, why it’s even possible.”
In the January issue of Latitude 38 — which hits newsstands today — Max Ebb explores some of the exhibits that may fill the proposed Sailing Science Center here in the Bay Area.
In this month’s Sightings, we have an update on the ‘rush hour’ at Cape Horn with Randall Reeves, Jeanne Socrates, and a host of Golden Globers. (Side note: Reeves, who rounded The Horn in late November, recently crossed the Prime Meridian, as he posted on his blog yesterday.)
Sightings also has what we consider the best book review ever written (by Changes in Latitudes editor John Riise) about Ron Holland’s wild life on boats and at sea, a profile of Express 27 Motorcycle Irene owner Zach Anderson, and a wrap-up of the bevy of America’s Cup challengers vying for a spot in New Zealand in 2021 — including California’s own Stars & Stripes Team USA.
In this month’s Letters, we explore the question: “Is using the motor ‘cheating?'” Spoiler alert: We don’t think it is — every sailor should, of course, do what feels best and safest for them. With that said, it’s been our experience that using the motor as little as possible is incredibly fulfilling in countless ways. You’ve probably heard the saying: Motorboaters are trying to get somewhere. Sailors are already where they want to be.
But wait, there’s more.
More Catalina stories, that is, with the recounting of a few reader experiences of where to anchor, where to drink, and where to go hiking on the island. We continue our profiles of the Season Champs, tell the story of an unexpected Transbac, and take a deep dive into the lives of cruiser kids while at sea, and how they fare once they go back to the real world.
As you well know, dear and faithful reader, you can read Latitude 38 any number of ways online, but we highly recommend the ‘real-life’, 3D, in-person version. Picking up a fresh Latitude at one of our 700 distributors (find one near you here) affords you the chance to go down to your local docks and see what’s happening. Or, if you’re a subscriber, you get that little rush from getting a package in the mail.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget that the 2019 Northern California Sailing Calendar and YRA Schedule is also hitting the stands today.
Here’s a raw image of this month’s cover, shot by Latitude’s own Mitch Perkins on the 25th-anniversary Baja Ha-Ha.
We’re always happy when someone from our staff manages to unchain themselves from their desk, get on a boat, and live the life that we all love.
We are proud to have another 12 months of Latitude 38 in the bank. As the year draws to a close, we thought this would be a good time to look back at each of the 2018 covers. From the Three Bridge Fiasco to cruises up the Delta to a breeze-complicated Pacific Cup and a light-air 25th annual Baja Ha-Ha, the year was filled with endless great days of sailing, challenging races, and all sorts of adventures on San Francisco Bay and far offshore.
Looking back at all the great people, events and stories that emerged this year reminds us that we can’t wait for sailing in 2019.
New Cover Contest(!)
We’re inviting you to submit photos for our Cover Contest(!). Think you have a shot that we should consider? We’re always looking for colorful, lively and captivating photos of West Coast sailors enjoying stunning sailing moments. Have a look at the 12 photos above — or indeed any from our past years archived here — and send us your best shots. Photos need to be high resolution, and need to be cropped to a vertical orientation. Send your cover photo submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we select your photo, we’ll send you a framed print to memorialize your winning shot.
The Master Mariners will sail into the New Year with no waiting around (except possibly for wind). On New Year’s Day, they’ll start out from Clipper Cove on the east side of Treasure Island and race or cruise to Point San Pablo Yacht Club. That club in Richmond will be the site of a chili cook-off and tacky trophy exchange.
Molto bene midwinter racing continues in January (check out a long list of series on our Calendar). Oakland YC’s Sunday Brunch Series will join the bunch already in progress. The Estuary races will kick off on January 6 and continue every other Sunday through the end of March. OYC invites competitors and their families to enjoy brunch and pre-race presentations in the clubhouse before racing.
Occupying their usual slot on the third weekend of January and February, the Corinthian Midwinters will gather the tribes at the ‘White House’ (the one in Tiburon). The weekend of January 19-20 happens to coincide with those extreme tides we informed you about in December 14’s ‘Lectronic.
A week later, on Saturday the 26th, the Singlehanded Sailing Society’s Three Bridge Fiasco will enjoy reasonable currents for once. (Doublehanders are also invited to this Bay-tour pursuit race.) Registration is open on Jibeset. Why does this weird race hold a place on many a local sailor’s must-do list? We’ll attempt to answer that question in a more detailed preview in another ‘Lectronic Latitude.
The bareboat-charter racing season in the Caribbean heats up in January; for a long list of options this winter we’ll refer you to the ‘In the Tropics’ section in the Calendar.
For much more around San Francisco Bay and beyond, check out the 2019 Northern California Sailing Schedule and YRA Calendar, hot off the presses today.