February 14, 2020

A Valentine’s Guide for All My ‘Fella’ Sailors Out There

I love you guys. You’ve taught me how to service my heat exchanger, helped me carry new house batteries from the chandlery to my car, and given me many a nice, cold beer at the end of a long, sweaty day of boat work. You think it’s cute when there’s grease under my fingernails, and you’re charmed by the way the sea breeze ruddies my cheeks and teases my locks into a state so ocean-wild that even a kelp forest would be envious. When I seek romance, you’re the only ones I consider; you smell like the salt air and you know how to work with your hands (something that makes this millennial girl swoon). However, in friendship or amour, it’s clear that you’re still trying to figure out how to talk to my kind in this modern age. So, my dear Jack Tar, allow me to guide you toward more companionable relations with the fairer sex, and perhaps someday you’ll even find one of us by your side as you sail toward those enchanting islands of plumeria and coconuts.

The author contemplates the evolving dynamic of a young woman sailing into a man’s waters.
© 2020 Elana Connor

In order to become one of our favorite fellows, start by befriending us as you would any sailor. Racing, cruising, or daysailing, most of the women I know are looking for a mate first, not a mate. We love the company of other sailors, and you’ll be a welcome new friend if you only treat us as if we’re more than just the sum of our, ahem, parts. Be a genuine pal, or we’ll quickly see right through your feeble attempts to get us into your bunk, and you’ll be left — friendless — in our wake.

Approach every gal you meet on or near the water as though she is a strong, confident, competent sailor. Assume we know what we’re doing, and that our suggestions under sail are as valid as those of your race crew’s tactician. In fact, assume that we’re all captains, and we know more about sailing and diesel maintenance than you do. Even if it’s not true, we’ll feel empowered by your assumptions, and if it is true, you won’t have put your foot in it and crushed a budding friendship.

Elana Connor singlehanded to the South Pacific last spring before heading to New Zealand.
© 2020 Elana Connor

Gone are the days when women were considered bad luck on boats. In fact, many race skippers I know swear that the boat sails faster when there’s a woman on the crew. So, invite us to race and sail as though it would be an honor to have us aboard. We’ll be excited to go with you if we know that you appreciate us as more than deck-orations.

Once we’re on the water together, ask us what we know before explaining something to us (or as we millennials say, “mansplaining” it to us). Since our bits have nothing to do with the skills required aboard a yacht, try not to show surprise when we prove ourselves quite knowledgeable. There’s nothing more flattering than someone treating you as if you’re smart, right? We competent women sailors don’t have any time for men who talk down to us . . . we just assume that’s their way of telling us that they don’t appreciate capable, strong women, and we’d rather go sailing with someone who does.

“You’re a real catch,” said the capitana to these fish.
© 2020 Elana Connor

If you’ve mastered these skills, and you want to kick it up a notch, make sure that when we’re with you on the water, everyone treats us like equals. If you ask us to trim a sail, handle a line, or take the helm, and you see another bloke step in to take over, remind him that we’re badass sailors, and that he might want to step back, watch, and learn. If you hear him boorishly ruining our gorgeous day on the water by practicing the same tactless flirtation he used at the local dive bar back in college, feel free to mention that we’re all actually there to sail. There’s no faster way to a sailor girl’s heart than to treat her with respect — and insist your buddies do, too.

Finally, if you think there’s a chance at romance, the best way to stand out from the crowd that’s knocking down our hatchboards is to let us make the first move. Otherwise, you’re likely to get lost in that sea of men, and spook just the kind of mermaid you were seeking. Most of us are salty enough that we’ll be quite clear about what we want if we want it. Remember that even if we’re not amorously inclined toward you, we make terrific friends, and we can hold the backside of a through-deck fastener as well as the next fellow.

If you’re a sailor, then your true love is probably the sea. But dogs also compete for sailors’ hearts.
© 2020 Elana Connor

My race skipper back home always jokingly says, “You know I’m a big fan of women.” The truth is, us women are a big fan of you guys, too. There’s no one we’d rather bond with as we adjust the valve clearance on our engine, or as we sip a navy grog at sundown. My favorite cruising friend (and most frequent dinner guest) out here is a singlehander man 20 years my senior, with whom I can lose hours debating the superiority of roller furling versus hank-on foresails. What’s the secret to my unwavering delight in his company?

He just treats me like a sailor.

Elana Connor has been contributing to Latitude during her singlehanded circumnavigation. She’s also featured on the Out The Gate Sailing podcast. Click here to hear part 2 of her interview

After Crossing Pacific, Boat Goes Aground in Hawaii. And It’s Still There

On February 3, a 63-ft motorsailer went aground on the Big Island of Hawaii following a 34-day passage from L.A.

There was just one person onboard, according to West Hawaii Today. “At 5:33 p.m. Monday, the US Coast Guard and Hawaii Fire Department personnel responded to a report of a grounded vessel on the rocks northwest of Hilo Harbor. A mariner remained on the vessel named Midway Island.” West Hawaii Today went on to say that the boat — which was called a a fishing vessel by another media outlet — was at the base of steep cliffs and hard to spot, and was being “bashed by large surf.”

The Midway Island — which has been called a motorsailer and fishing vessel by the mainstream media — is apparently still stuck on the rocks near Hilo, Hawaii. It’s not clear what’s next for the now-abandoned vessel.
© 2020 US Coast Guard/West Hawaii Today

A Coast Guard helicopter hoisted the sole sailor to safety. The man was said to be in good condition.

On February 4, the Coast Guard assessed the vessel for threats of pollution. The hull was still sound and hadn’t yet leaked any fuel. “There is a maximum potential fuel load of [some 1,300] gallons of diesel aboard along with two marine batteries,” West Hawaii Today reported.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that the Coast Guard had scrapped plans to tow Midway Island “after inspectors discovered flooding in the boat.” The AP said the Coast Guard hoped to move the boat off the rocks and into a berth in Hilo during the high tide.

The environmental impact is still reported to be minimal.

“The Coast Guard is working with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and other partners on plans to safely move the boat and mitigate any pollution on board,”

National Sailing Hall of Fame Accepting Nominations

On Wednesday, we told you about Paul Cayard’s impending induction in the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. The San Francisco sailor had already been inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame, in 2011.

The sailing public makes nominations that the NSHOF’s volunteer Selection Committee will then review. The committee accepts nominations throughout the year. They’ll consider nominations received by midnight (Pacific Time) on March 31, 2020, for the Induction Class of 2020. Any nominations received after that will automatically be considered for the Class of 2021.

Nominees should have made a significant impact on American sailing at a national level. They can be active currently, or from sailing’s history. You can nominate a racer, a cruiser, a pioneer, an inventor, a naval architect, or an author, instructor or musician.

Doug Peterson collage
Inducted posthumously, yacht designer Doug Peterson of Los Angeles was among the Class of 2019, presented at Seattle Yacht Club.
© 2020 National Sailing Hall of Fame

Eligible Candidates

  • Candidates must be at least 55 years old (or in the case of passing before 55, five years posthumous).
  • The Selection Committee will consider Modern (living or deceased) and Historic (deceased for 60 years or more at time of selection).
  • The majority of nominees are US citizens. Foreign nationals may be nominated if their work has contributed significantly to the development of the sport in the USA.

Build a concise case for the committee that outlines your nominee’s merit for induction into the Hall of Fame:

  • List their accomplishments in and contributions to the world of sailing at a national level — races won, inventions, publications, awards, other recognitions, etc.
  • Also list their notable accomplishments and contributions outside of sailing that you feel are important.
  • We encourage you to provide links to or copies of any articles, web pages, photos, videos or other publications that will help the committee get to know your candidate.
  • Be detailed but brief.

Nomination Categories

  • The Sailing Category recognizes achievements made on the water as a sailboat racer, cruiser or offshore sailor.
  • The Technical Category recognizes those who have significantly contributed to the technical aspects of sailing. Examples include designers, boat builders, sailmakers, etc.
  • The Contributor Category recognizes those who have made other significant contributions to the American sailing experience. Examples include teachers, coaches, administrators, media (including authored works, TV, film, etc.), artists, musicians, promoters and organizers.

Do’s and Don’ts

Everything you need to know about the nominating process is available by visiting our online nomination page.

Review the lists of Inductees and current nominees to see if your sailing hero is listed before submitting a nomination.

“Submitting duplicate nominations or engaging others in a ‘campaign’ for your person only adds to the burden placed on our volunteers,” says the NSHOF. “Please be considerate of their time. It’s a nomination, not a popularity contest. One nomination by any one person the online form is all it takes for a candidate to be considered by the Selection Committee.”

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede Wins Blue Water Medal

CCA’s Blue Water Medal

The Cruising Club of America will bestow the 2019 Blue Water Medal upon Jean-Luc Van Den Heede in recognition of his achievements in singlehanded sailing. Most notable among his accomplishments are six solo circumnavigations. He won the 2018 Golden Globe Race and set the world record for fastest west-about circumnavigation.

Victory for VDH
Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (aka ‘VDH’) won the 2018-19 Golden Globe Race.
© 2020 Christian Favereau

The Cruising Club of America (CCA) established the Blue Water Medal in 1923 to reward “meritorious seamanship and adventure upon the sea.” Previous winners include Eric Tabarly, Sir Francis Chichester, Bernard Moitessier, Rod Stephens and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. More recently, Webb Chiles and Jeanne Socrates — both favorites with Latitude Nation — have been recipients.

An Accomplished Life

Born in France in 1945, Van Den Heede completed two Mini Transat races in 1977 and 1979 before sailing his first solo circumnavigation in the 1986 BOC Challenge Race. He placed second in that race. He then sailed in the inaugural Vendée Globe, coming in third. In the second Vendée Globe, in 1992, he finished second. Next up was the inaugural Transat Jacques Vabre. A doublehanded event since 1995, the first race, from Le Havre, France, to Cartagena, Colombia, in 1993, was for solo sailors. In 1994-1995, Van Den Heede again raced in the BOC Challenge, placing third in class. He competed in the singlehanded Route du Rhum transatlantic race in 1998, after which he began attempts to beat the record for the fastest east-to-west circumnavigation.

Pitting sailors against the prevailing winds and currents in the Southern Ocean, this goal is considered one of the toughest in sailing. VDH made his first attempt in 1999, but hit a submerged object halfway between Cape Horn and New Zealand. He then built the 85-ft aluminum monohull Adrien for a second attempt in 2001, but was again forced to retire when the keel began working loose from the hull soon after rounding Cape Horn. In 2002, Van Den Heede attempted the circumnavigation again, but was dismasted south of Australia. This time, he brought the boat back to France with a steel mast he’d built himself in Tasmania.

In 2004, aboard Adrien, Van Den Heede, sailing singlehanded, broke the record for fastest west-about circumnavigation, crewed or solo. He made the voyage in 122 days, 14 hours, 3 minutes, 49 seconds, cutting 29 days off the previous record. His record still stands today.

Looking Back at the 2018 Golden Globe Race

At age 73, Van Den Heede entered the 2018 Golden Globe Race, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first round-the-world yacht race, the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was the only one of nine entrants to complete the original race.

The 2018 GGR limited entrants to the same type of yachts and equipment that were available to the competitors in 1968. This meant relatively heavy displacement, full-keel yachts with lengths on deck of 32-36 feet, and no GPS.

VDH aboard Matmut
VDH aboard his GGR steed, Matmut.
© 2020 Christian Favereau

Before the race began, VDH commented about these conditions. “The slow speeds of these classic old boats with their long keels, the absence of weather information, the loss of all electronics and reliance on a sextant to plot positions, the lack of terrestrial contact, and the replacement of an electric pilot with windvane self-steering, will make this test even more difficult than the Vendée Globe. But this is good. I want to relive the conditions and challenges that my sailing predecessors enjoyed.”

VDH won the Golden Globe Race on January 29, 2019, having been at sea 212 days aboard Matmut, his Rustler 36. He did so despite a capsize in the Pacific that required him to repair his rigging. Of the 18 entrants in the race, only five finished; of those who retired, five were dismasted. In winning the Golden Globe, VDH took over from Sir Robin Knox-Johnston as the oldest sailor to complete a solo round-the-world race. Reflecting on the race, he commented that morale is more important than physical strength.

Looking Ahead to the 2022 Golden Globe Race

A second ‘modern’ Golden Globe Race will start in September 2022. Two Americans, Guy deBoer, 63, of Key West, FL, and Doug Dean, 52, of Nebraska, have already pre-registered.

Guy deBoer and Doug Dean
Americans Guy deBoer (left) and Doug Dean have signed up for the 2022 Golden Globe Race.
© 2020 Tim Bishop / PPL / GGR

Among the 21 entries, only one is a woman, South African Kirsten Neuschäfer, 37. Tapio Lehtinen, 61, will return. Despite a serious barnacle infestation, the Finnish Lehtinen managed to complete the race in 2019, coming in fifth out of the five finishers.

Class of 2020
The Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame announced yesterday that local sailor Paul Cayard will join its 2020 induction class this May. Cayard becomes the first sailor to be recognized by the BASHOF.
Facing Monster Storms
"With the South Atlantic like that, we would never have smashed the Jules Verne Trophy record," explains Francis Joyon, reflecting on what has been a slow and difficult ascension of the Atlantic Ocean.