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November 6, 2020

The Ninth Solo Nonstop Vendée Globe Will Start on Sunday

Run every four years, the Vendée Globe singlehanded around-the-world race will start on this Sunday, November 8, at 1 p.m. local time off Les Sables-d’Olonne, France. The boats are all box-rule IMOCA 60s of varying ages and technologies. Just like in our Bay Area Singlehanded Sailing Society boats, the spread ranges from ‘spend all you can to win’ to ‘run what you brung’. Most skippers are French, with a few Brits and a smattering of other nationalities represented. Some are repeat offenders from earlier Vendées. Some are first-timers. Six competitors are women, a record for the race.

Top Spendy Entries

Launched in 2018, Jérémie Beyou’s Charal benefited from an additional year of preparation. Work during that year included tons of sailing, and making the systems more reliable.
© 2020 Gauthier Lebec / Charal

Starting from the top, ‘spend money’ campaigns with the best chance of winning are:

  • Jérémie Beyou, age 44, on his new boat, Charal. The boat was launched in 2018, has been sorted out well, and is fast. Beyou is a past Figaro winner and has what it takes to keep the competition behind him.
  • Charlie Dalin, 36, on Apivia has a fast boat but has never raced in the Vendée. He is a naval architect by trade and a successful Figaro sailor, so he set up his boat for his style of racing.
  • Another new boat is LinkedOut, with Thomas Ruyant, 39. LinkedOut looks to be a faster design among a lot of fast designs.
  • And who could count out Brit Alex Thomson, 46, on Hugo Boss, with a brand-new boat? Thomson is a veteran of several Vendées and ocean races. He can be successful if he doesn’t break the boat.

Some Notable Budget Entries

Jean Le Cam
Jean Le Cam, 61, first raced the Vendée in 2004-2005.
© 2020 Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendée Globe

Among “I have only this boat I can afford to race” entries are:

  • Yes we Cam! Jean Le Cam’s 2006 high-odometer Farr design dates from many IMOCA generations ago. The skipper has the best attitude and will undoubtedly post some very humorous accounts during the race.
  • Englishwoman Pip Hare, 46, will be on board Medallia, a vintage boat built in 1999 in a hangar. It’s the oldest of the fleet. Hare is a very accomplished racer with many wins in a variety of fleets. And the sponsor, Medallia, is a San Francisco company. The CEO, Leslie Stretch, has a Beneteau 41.1 that sails out of Richmond. Go figure. (See the August issue of Latitude 38 for more.)
On July 6, Pip Hare sails her IMOCA 60, newly branded with sponsor Medallia, in Poole, UK.
© 2020 Richard Langdon / Oceanimages

More Vendée Women to Watch

The top women with a chance to win are:

  • Frenchwoman Clarisse Crémer, 30, on Banque Populaire X. Crémer is an accomplished racer with a great boat. She and her boat have both won races.
  • Brit Samantha Davies, 46, on Initiatives-Coeur, has both the experience and a record of successful Vendées. The boat is older, but it’s been modified to compete with the newest, and may have the ability to stay in one piece better than the others.
Sam Davies at the tiller
Sam Davies is the only woman to have brushed up against the podium, since Ellen MacArthur came in second in 2001. In 2008-2009 Davies seized fourth place thanks to her talent and energy. Her second Vendée Globe, in 2012-2013, ended much too early with her dismasting.
© 2020 Eloi Stichelbaut / polaRYSE / Initiatives Coeur

You can view the race online, check the tracker, watch the onboard videos every day, and keep up by going to: www.vendeeglobe.org/en. Another great site about all the boats and racers is www.imoca.org/en/races/imoca-globe-series/vendee-globe. And North Sails posts a well-produced video series hosted by Loïck Peyron on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=north+sails+vendee+globe.


When You’re Wrong in the Right of Way

In mid-October, after a summer of bizarre weather, it was 80-plus degrees and windless at Latitude’s satellite office in San Quentin Village. The Bay went completely glassy for almost five days in a row — conditions that are otherwise unheard of on this always-some-kind-of-wind stretch of water. In these rare, placid moments, I grab an old, fiberglass windsurf board and go for a paddle.

When You're Wrong in the Right of Way
Here’s San Quentin beach, as seen on a windy day this summer, and through sunglasses. Mid-August and -October saw some ultra-glassy days.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim

On about day three of the ‘paddle-athon’, I spotted two alien craft skimming the water. Oh, right, they were electric foilboards, I realized, which is now apparently a thing. Each rider seemed competent, but both took the occasional fall. They were in the Larkspur Channel as a ferry, outbound for San Francisco and still in the five-mile-an-hour zone, made its way past San Quentin Prison and into the Bay. I was about 200 yards outside the narrow channel as the foilboarders headed west and toward the oncoming ferry; they were sort of half in and half out of the channel, circling in front of the ferry’s course — not unlike buzzing flies. (I don’t mean to imply anything derogative by that analogy. I’m referring more to their swift, erratic, hovering motion.)

I found myself growing anxious and having the strong opinion that the foilboarders should head left and unmistakably out of the channel — immediately; the time had more than passed for the riders to make clear their intention to yield to a vessel restricted by draft and maneuverability. As the ferry hit the gas and got up to its 20-plus-knot cruising speed, one of the boarders crossed in front of the oncoming vessel at a distance of what I guess was well less than 100 yards. I fully expected the ferry to give a short blast to voice its displeasure (or my displeasure). It didn’t.

“You fu@*ing idiot,” I thought. I was tempted to yell at the rider, but the foilboarder was just out of outrage range.

This foilboarder is about to either wipe out or do a really cool trick. (The rider in this video said it was his first time on any kind of ‘surf’ board (if we can use that term broadly).
© 2020 YouTube/Electrek.co

I don’t recall when I had the epiphany that I almost wanted the foilboarders to be in the wrong. Maybe I wanted to lord my sense of superior, cautious seamanship over some poor hapless fool whom I deemed in violation of the code. That I was so outraged was a startling realization, and now I felt in the wrong, but wrong in the right way, I guess. (I should also say here that many of you would be appalled at my safety choices on the water, so please don’t hear me claiming I’m holier than thou.) If I’d had the chance to speak with the two riders after some time had passed, I would have stuck a conciliatory tone, asking them to consider giving decisive way to a vessel in the future, adding that in addition to that course of action being an infinitely safer choice for them, it’s also the considerate thing to do for the skipper of a vessel. Oh yeah, and it’s the law.

Nothing brings out comments from Latitude Nation like questions of safety and rules of the road. We even have what we’ll call a committed “safety squad,” or readers who reliably chime in, or wag their finger (as I was ready to do) when there’s even a perceived infraction.

There’s no denying that certain groups of watercraft users are less likely to know and practice the rules than others. In this month’s Letters, Dave Cowell of the Islander 30 Mas Tiempo noted the abundance of kayaks in the Delta this summer, saying, “It’s curious how all of us have to go through the Cal Boat Card [CBC] routine, but not paddlers — be they kayakers, SUPers or rowers, they don’t seem to have to get any education before mixing it up with the rest of us.” Vendors and retailers and rental companies must, for the moment, be the de facto governing bodies and executors of the rules of the road to a growing swath of users. But sometimes, it feels like that responsibility falls on us.

Anyway, here’s the question that I really want to ask: Have you ever caught yourself being unexpectedly outraged at someone breaking the rules of the road? Maybe your cause was legitimate and your anger righteous, but maybe you caught yourself in mid-rant. What is the best strategy, tone and reaction when someone is unaware of the rules? In the heat of the moment, I would have felt more than justified in shaming and embarrassing those foilboarders. More broadly, if sailors are always yelling at non-sailors on the water, then resentment is likely to fester. Isn’t the better strategy to bring those who are unaware into the cadre of mariners looking out for one another?

Or is the occasional tongue-lashing in order?

Please comment below, or write me here.

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Santa Cruz Yacht Club Mixed Gender Doublehanded Regatta

With sailors aged 7 years old to 70 years young, 31 teams faced light, fluky conditions on September 26. They enjoyed a great day of challenging racing. This year’s Santa Cruz YC Jack and Jill Regatta has grown, with enthusiastic participation and a multiple-division format: Spinnaker, Jib and Main, Families, and Double Date with two couples.

Moore 24 Lowly Worm 2.0 sailing
The Moore 24 Lowly Worm 2.0 sails in SCYC’s Jack and Jill Regatta.
© 2020 Sydnie Moore

The spirit of the regatta is to encourage more women, couples, friends and families to sail and race together. For many of the participants, this was their first racing opportunity. For several it was their first time doublehanding a boat and not sailing with a full crew.

Santa Cruz 27s

There was close racing among the six Santa Cruz 27s, with Evan Diola on Mistress Quickly beating Rachel Cherry and Mark Voropayev on Kasatka in B Division. For many parents, this is a great opportunity to share their passion for sailing with their kids. Ryan and Janel’s kids on Hanalei demonstrated their Schuyler racing skills to win in the family division. However, the youngest crew were Gary and Evgenia Mirfield’s 7-year-old Nickolas and 10-year-old Alex aboard their family’s SC27, Good Timing.

Several dads in the club were reuniting with their sailing daughters, such as Craig Smith on the SC27 Don Quixote, Chris and Rachel Hofmann on the Santana 22 Odonata, and Vern Wallace and Cindy Rodrigues on Seabird. Stefan Berlinski sailed with his wife, Mary, in the Families division on the Santana 22 Hamachi.

Moore 24s

Steve and Sara Bourdow on Mooregasm won the start among the nine Moore 24s. Tom Conerly and Amy on No Wildfire rounded the weather mark in first and finished second overall. Scott Nelson and Karen Loutzenheiser on Lowly Worm 2.0 sailed brilliantly on rhumb line, while every other boat was seeking better pressure, to win overall out of 13 boats in B Division.

Scott and Karen at the dock
Scott Nelson and Karen Loutzenheiser won Fleet B.
© 2020 Sydnie Moore

Mike Evans and Nancy Rinkardt on the Moore 24 Tonopah Low had an impressive win in Jib and Main. The Lighthall 30 New Wave, with Mark Merritt and Janell Hillman, came in second. Moore 24 #101, with Mike McCarthy and his first-time-racing gal, came in third in a fleet of 11 entries.

JV Gilmore was determined to make the race, so he singlehanded, with his dog Noche, from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, proving that Less Is Moore is an apt name for his Moore 24.

This  popular mixed-gender shorthanded sailing event reflects our club’s interest in developing the next generation of sailors. It highlights an opportunity to develop an outstanding caliber of women sailors and couples. Many of the doublehanded sailors have gone on to own their own boats, race internationally, or do regattas like the Doublehanded Farallones, Three Bridge Fiasco, Pacific Cup and Transpac.

Roller Coaster sailing
Carol Gordon skippered the largest boat, the Santa Cruz 50 Roller Coaster, with Jack, Todd and Kris North.
© 2020 Sydnie Moore

SCYC is a friendly, fun, very welcoming club that provides opportunities to all members to be actively involved, not just on the race course. PRO Bob DeWitt, Captain Rick Diola, Gene Sofen, Barbara Booth, Christina Shaw, Bruce Donald, Doug Kirk, Susie Barber and Lois Van Buren and other volunteers made racing possible. Don’t hesitate to volunteer for any regatta. See https://club.scyc.org/racing.


When Kayakers Meet Hungry Whales

We all love getting up close and personal with whales. But what happens when we get too close? According to a report on abc7.com, two kayakers almost found themselves on the whales’ lunch menu while enjoying a peaceful paddle at Avila Beach, CA.

Julie McSorley and Liz Cottriel were watching humpback whales from around 30 feet away on Monday when one whale came up underneath them and caused them to capsize.

“I saw the big pool of fish, the big bait ball come up out of the water,” McSorley reportedly said. “I saw the whale come up. I thought, ‘Oh, no! It’s too close.'”

Cottriel reportedly commented, “I’m thinking to myself, ‘I’m gonna push.’ Like, I’m gonna push a whale out of the way! It was the weirdest thought. I’m thinking, ‘I’m dead. I’m dead.’ I thought it was gonna land on me.”

The women quickly resurfaced, and nearby kayakers and paddleboarders went to their aid. They were then able to paddle to shore, apparently unharmed.

Footage of the incident was captured in two separate videos in which it appears as though the kayakers are being swallowed by the whale.

“The whale was right here in my face, literally,” Cottriel told reporters.

We’re all told that humpback whales typically feed on krill and small fish. So although Cottriel and McSorley no doubt felt as if they were food, it’s more likely that they just happened to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

When a Potter is Not a Potter
Small-boat sailing has a good following on the Bay. Check out some of these photos of Potters and Montgomery 17s in action.
Sailing Away From Diesel
With a diesel engine that was not only unreliable but leaked and stank, David faced an expensive and lengthy rebuild or re-power.
The Lead-up to the Vendée Globe
The International Association of Cape Horners has taken on the mantle of maintaining an official register of those who have completed solo circumnavigations via the Three Great Capes.