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April 8, 2020

Not Long Ago People Found a Moment for Sunshine and Sailing

As sailors adjusted their habits, a few tucked in a sail in last week’s sunshine.

The Richmond Yacht Club wasn’t blowing starting guns for the first Wednesday evening beer can race of the year. Instead, the sailors were flattening the curve when they’d rather be flattening their sails, practicing social distancing instead of their starting technique. Just the same, it was a sublime day for crisp spring sailing and kayaking, while maintaining at least 6 feet of separation, of course!

Cruising in an El Toro
Author Tom Burden chills out in his El Toro, holding the towline for wife Susan’s kayak.
© 2020 Susan Burden
El Toro Tow Line
A 15-ft towline maintains distance as we head for Brooks Island.
© 2020 Susan Burden
Sunny Moth sailing
This athletic Moth sailor enjoys herself on a brilliant Richmond Riviera afternoon.
© 2020 Susan Burden
Evening cruise
Three boats sailed an evening tour. Here are the two leaders entering the channel.
© 2020 Susan Burden
Solo sailing
Out for a solo sail in Potrero Reach.
© 2020 Susan Burden

Good memories. Sunny sailing is on the horizon.

Are You Seeking Notoriety as a Sailor?

Back in the late 1980s — not long after Dennis Conner was victorious in Fremantle and brought the America’s Cup to the White House — we remember hearing about some obscure survey asking Americans to name sailors. To our recollection, the majority could name only two: The first was Popeye, followed distantly by the newly famous-ish Conner.

The February 16, 1987, cover of Sports Illustrated. (When else has the magazine featured sailing on its cover? Anyone?)
© 2020 James Drake/ Sports Illustrated via Getty Images Cove

Like mountains for climbers, so too is the obviousness of the wind and sea for sailors. Those of us dedicated to the sport and lifestyle are not likely seeking notoriety, or even acceptance.

Or are we?

Do you ever wish that sailing here in the United States were more mainstream, as in France or Australia? Do you wish that your sailing heroes and top-level ‘ocean athletes’ would get the recognition they both have earned and deserve?

As it turns out, Popeye the Sailor celebrated his 91st birthday in January. The character first appeared in the daily King Features comic strip Thimble Theatre on January 17, 1929. For Americans, Popeye is perhaps the most recognizable sailor among the non-sailing public.
© 2020

Or, are you happy with sailing’s American obscurity?

There is a class of sailing billionaires who have tried to hook a mainstream sailing audience with speed. But in milking every last knot out of the boats, much — if not all — of sailing’s nuances have been lost to the allure of going as fast as possible.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim

Just wondering. Please comment below, or write us here.

Pacific Cup (and More) Canceled!

The West Coast

Organizers for the Pacific Cup from San Francisco to Oahu have canceled the 2020 race and scheduled the next one to start the week of July 4, 2022. “We’re terribly disappointed to take this step to cancel the 2020 race, but the health and safety of our participants, partners and the many supporting volunteers must take priority,” said Pacific Cup Commodore Michael Moradzadeh. The race finishes at Kaneohe Bay, with Kaneohe Yacht Club welcoming the sailors to Hawaii. The 2020 edition would have marked the race’s 40th anniversary. It had been scheduled to start during the week of June 29.

The Singlehanded Farallones Race (May 16) and Singlehanded Transpacific Race (starting June 27) are still on for now. The Singlehanded Sailing Society board will meet on April 15 and discuss the status of those races.

Red Sky with red spinnaker
SHTP chair Brian Boschma finishes the 2019 Singlehanded Farallones on his Olson 34 Red Sky — with an interesting spinnaker configuration.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

“It is with the deepest regret that we have decided that, for the first time since 1946, the Swiftsure International Yacht Race will not be run this year,” reads the statement from Swiftsure 2020. “After careful consideration by members of the Swiftsure Committee and the Board of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, it was determined that it was in everyone’s best interest to cancel this year’s event.” Starting and finishing in Victoria Harbour, BC, the Swiftsure was to have departed on May 23, with multiple courses up to 138.2 miles long.


The International 5O5 Class has canceled their 2020 World Championship. ”We are in challenging but temporary times,” said class president Michel Quirk. “The World Championship event, which normally attracts, to the one start line, up to 180 of the world’s best enthusiastic boats, was scheduled in beautiful Torekov, Sweden, in mid-August. World Championships need a long lead time to organise and to allow competitors to arrange travel from the 18 countries around the world where the boat is sailed.”

5O5 with spinanker
Americans Mike Holt and Carl Smit placed second at last year’s 5O5 Worlds in Fremantle, Australia.
© 2020 5O5 International Class

Bermuda will host the 2021 World Championship on October 26-November 6. So Americans Mike Martin and Adam Lowry reign for one more year as 5O5 world champions.

The International 29er Class Association and the Organizing Authorities for the 2020 Zhik 29er Worlds (August 13-24 in Portland, UK) and the 2020 Zhik 29er European Championship (July 24-August 1 in Copenhagen, Denmark) have canceled both events.

The Royal Western Yacht Club of England will run its major transatlantic races, the Original Single-handed Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) and the Two-handed Transatlantic Race (TWOSTAR), in May, 2021, instead of 2020.

Storm Trysail Club

The Storm Trysail Club, based in Larchmont, NY, has made an announcement about the 75th Block Island Race: “At this time we have decided to postpone the start from May 22 to Friday, June 19 — the originally scheduled start date for the Newport Bermuda Race,” reads that club’s statement. “We sympathize with the CCA and RBYC for what must have been a difficult — and we are sure, correct — decision to cancel their classic ocean race. Block Island Race presents fewer logistical challenges, and, if conditions permit, at least we can all do some offshore racing that weekend!

“We will, however, continue to monitor events and will make a final decision no later than May 15.   If at that time it appears to be unwise to start on June 19, we will postpone the 75th running of the race until 2021.”

The club is sharing (for free), a Safety at Sea video series. New video premieres every Friday at 9 a.m. EDT. The first was Man Overboard Recovery. You can watch it on the club’s Facebook page. Other videos to come:

  • Understanding Weather
  • Using Safety Equipment
  • Shipboard Firefighting Strategies
  • Emergency Steering
  • And more

More Videos to Enjoy

Check out this one of crew overboard practice on

Another gem we found on YouTube: Warren Miller’s Hot Yachts Cold Water, released in 1983. It includes footage of 6-Meters match racing on San Francisco Bay, 470s racing, iceboating and more. It’s a feature-length film, coming in at 86 minutes.

March Is Mexico Time in the April Edition of Latitude 38

Learn more about why “March is Mexico time” in Paul Martson’s feature on the 34th running of the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race along the west coast of Baja, and the legendary MexORC grand-prix race week on Banderas Bay.

“Every two years, the opportunity to race a pair of extraordinary events in Mexico comes along. This is the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race (aka SD2PV) followed by MexORC, or Mexican Ocean Racing Circuit,” Paul wrote. “Together they are similar to doing half of a Transpac followed by a Kenwood Cup (remember those?). But at the finish you will find margaritas instead of mai tais.”

Bill Hardesty Hobie 33 Sizzle
Bill Hardesty and crew aboard the Hobie 33 Sizzle, a downwind flyer, took first overall in the San Diego to PV Race.
© 2020 Bill Hardesty
Roy Disney Pyewacket
Roy Disney’s deep-draft downwind flyer, Pyewacket 70, at the opposite end of the scale, took first in ORR-1.
© 2020 PV Race

You can read Martson’s complete story of both the PV Race and MexORC in the April issue here.

The word 'yacht' has always bothered me. It’s simply too pretentious for my taste. When I go sailing, I don’t go to the yacht, I go to the boat, and there is a distinct difference.