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July 2, 2021

Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

Sunday is the 4th of July. Some regions are hosting celebrations and fireworks, while others are keeping it simple. Whatever you do across this weekend we wish you a safe and fun celebration.

John ‘Woody’ Skoriak sent us a couple of great photos of, you guessed it, sailboats flying the American Flag.

This flag flies off the transom of the Matthew Turner. The dinghy is a 17-ft Herreshoff “Coquina” design sailing skiff. The dinghy is aptly named Independence.
© 2021 John Skoriak
Freda B flies her flag high and proud. This particular photo was taken during the 2013 America’s Cup races.
© 2021 John Skoriak

If you’re hoping to catch some fireworks on Sunday, this link might help

Classic Sailboats, and Neighbors, Converge for Woodies Regatta

Last weekend, three classic-yacht classes converged on the St Francis Yacht Club for the 2021 Woodies Invitational regatta. The event took place over three consecutive days during which Knarrs, International One Designs (IOD) and Folkboats battled it out on the Cityfront. We received a few action shots from Sausalito sailor Jay Grant, who witnessed the race first-hand aboard his neighbor Dave Wilson’s Folkboat, Windansea.

Just the name Folkboat evokes a feeling of togetherness and community, and in keeping with this theme, Windansea‘s other crew members throughout the weekend included Dave’s wife Marnie, his brother, Dan Wilson, another neighbor, Louis Henning, and Isabelle Dumoulin, whose father races one of the other Folkboats.

Saturday and Sunday produced conditions of 12-15-knot winds in the morning, increasing to 20 knots after lunch.
© 2021 Jay Grant

Dave has been racing Windansea for close to 30 years. “It’s my dad’s boat,” he said, adding, “He’s a member at Richmond Yacht Club, so we race as RYC.”

Even though she’s a fun boat with a family and neighborhood crew, Dave Wilson still sailed to win. Despite two OCS starts, Windansea took second place in her fleet.
© 2021 Jay Grant
Isabelle Dumoulin is a nursing student and sailing instructor. She joined the crew aboard Windansea for Sunday’s race.
© 2021 Jay Grant
Competing against your own class is one of the best ways to race.
© 2021 Jay Grant

Photographer Chris Ray was also on hand with his camera and captured this great action shot.

Windansea (blue deck and hull) can be seen on the outside.
© 2021 Chris Ray

You can read more about the race here.

Latitude 38 Delivery Driver Wanted

In the early morning light, Sue Weaver picks up magazines to deliver.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The perfect sailor’s job: 29 days off every month! This is a one-day-per-month position to deliver Latitude 38 magazines to our San Francisco/Peninsula route, from the St. Francis Yacht Club to Redwood City, on the first of each month. Drivers act as ambassadors for the West Coast’s premier sailing and marine magazine. Applicants should feel comfortable engaging with our wonderful distribution team and maintaining relationships with sailing and marine businesses in the Bay Area. An ideal candidate will keep track of the magazines delivered to each location and look out for new distribution locations.

Dale Williams TP 52 Wasabi
There are many great stops and appreciative readers like Dale Williams, of the TP 52 Wasabi, who stopped by to pick up a recent issue from South Beach Harbor in San Francisco.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Copperfield's Books
Though not on the Peninsula route we did stop by one of our other great local small-business distributors yesterday: Copperfield’s Books in San Rafael. They’re moving to 1200 4th St. shortly. Support local businesses when you stop by to pick up your copy of Latitude 38.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

To apply, send your résumé and cover letter with sailing experience by email to [email protected] with “Latitude Driver” in the subject line. Please, no phone calls!

A Tropical Paradise Awaits Solo Yacht Racers

Hanalei Bay pier and vista
The scenic vistas, soft sand and warm tropical air in Hanalei Bay await the 11 solo sailors in the Solo T-Pac.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

As we write this update on Friday morning, the trade winds have filled in for the entire fleet of the Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race, holding all the way to Kauai. If anything, the wind is building.

Tracking the Fleet

With breeze in the high teens, San Diego-based Kyle Vanderspek’s Hobie 33 Aloha is stretching out on the fleet and rapidly approaching the Garden Isle. At 8 a.m. PDT, the only planing hull in this year’s race was making 8 knots and had 241 miles to go to the finish line off Puu Poa point. We’re no math majors, but a simple calculator tells us that puts Kyle 30 hours away from Hanalei, for a finish on Saturday afternoon.

Jibeset tracker with Windy overlay
The Jibeset tracker with overlay as of 9 a.m. PDT today. Aloha is the yellow track closest to the islands.
© 2021

A greater mind than ours (belonging specifically to SHTP veteran Rob Macfarlane of the N/M 45 Tiger Beetle) has put together a spreadsheet analyzing distance made good, using data collected from Jibeset.

Our colleague from explains the Jibeset tracker: “Using the Iridium satellite system. the racers buy their own Garmin inReach or Iridium GO!, and the signals are sent out to the public Jibeset tracker web page. The racers also communicate via text or email with the race committee and family using the Iridium devices. There is an ‘I’m OK’ button on the transmitters that is used for a daily check-in. Iridium also has an emergency button that can send a help message, but all boats are required to have a full EPIRB on board. The racers are expected to use that if there is any trouble.

“The SSS tried Yellowbrick trackers when the technology was still new, and although it worked much better than the old way of SSB radios and a relay boat sending out the information over the air, Yellowbrick is expensive. One of the problems with using individually owned transmitters is they can’t be synched to ping a position at the same time. So a little math needs to be used to get an idea of how the boats are doing against one another during the race. But that makes it fun, as the winners won’t be determined until it’s over (just like the old days). By creating their own tracker page with off-the-shelf hardware, the racers save a lot of money, and yet we still get to enjoy the race at home.”

The time stamps on the tracker, by the way, are in PDT, not HST.

From Aloha

The racers themselves have been sending messages that the Singlehanded Sailing Society is posting on their forum. Here’s one from Kyle on Aloha, posted yesterday: “Sometime around dinner, after I had written my last update about the blind rumble strip driver that was the autopilot, I decided to throw in the towel on that head unit for the Pelagic and try out the spare one that I had brought in case the original one died.”

Aloha at the dock
Kyle and Aloha at the Richmond Yacht Club dock just prior to shoving off for the San Francisco start of the race.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

“The spare one is borrowed off of Elliot James’s boat Bloom County and is programmed to face a different direction. Because of this I had to basically duct-tape it to the outboard backrest on the port side of the cockpit backrest. However with the ‘install’ complete, I plugged it in and put it to use and it drove (and continues to drive) straight as an arrow! Such a relief to be able to relax knowing the boat will continue on its same course without constant attention from yours truly.

“This unfortunately backfired on me some time around midnight as a minor wind shift that I didn’t feel let the spinnaker collapse and wrap itself about a dozen times tightly around the forestay. It couldn’t have been wrapped/wrapping for more than a minute, but the damage had been done and it required lowering, disconnecting and an extensive headlamp-lit struggle on the bow in the dark to get it unwrapped.

“Eventually, after getting it unwrapped and totally doused, then re-packed and re-set, we continued on our merry way with speeds likely never dipping below 6 or so knots thanks to the continued push by the main and staysail.”

From Green Buffalo

On Wednesday, Cal 40 sailor Jim Quanci wrote: “Smooth sailing… 12k-14k… saw 17 knots a bit (which makes napping a bit ‘edgier’… going to take some time to acclimate to sleeping under chute in the increasing winds. You would think I would be used to it… but not yet).

“Read a book yesterday… Beneath a Scarlet Sky... Not that I planned to read a book. But things are so “steady” — getting a bit bored. And then book #2… what I found in the SHTP goodie bag… halfway through Jackie Philpott’s Not a Yacht Club. Great fun reading about old friends!

“Running down the rhumb line.”

From Hula, Northern Star and Mountain

“After a terrible beginning to the relationship,” writes Bill Stange of the Westsail 32 Hula, “the spinnaker sock and I are now the best of friends! He saved my butt twice last night.” Later: “And suddenly the sea surface burst to life as hundreds of flying fish took flight to avoid the hard charging (OK, chugging) bow of the Westsail 32.”

“Spinnaker snuffer has tangled itself tightly on headstay both preventing me from getting it down and from unfurling jib, so the pace will be slow until/unless I can clear it,” writes Jamie Wylly on the Sabre 426 Northern Star. “The spinnaker was presenting a danger and I cut most of it away so will be without for remainder of trip. All material and lines on boat, nothing was left in the ocean.”

Northern Star
Northern Star beats out the Gate on June 29. After a windy start, the fleet ran into a disorganized Pacific High and endured light air for many days.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

“It”s been a busy few days aboard Mountain,” writes J/109 sailor Reed Bernhard. “I had the distinct pleasure of fishing a couple of my sails out of the sea. This type of thing happens from time to time; one prefers it not to happen in a race though. Nothing damaged, just a bruised ego and a loss of a few miles to my competitors. I remind myself that each of the other 10 yachts is also having their share of minor misfortunes. It”s how we handle them that makes the difference.”

Read much more of the missives from mid-Pacific on the SSS forum.

Sad News from Perplexity

Earlier this week, we received the following note from John Wilkerson of the Express 37-1 Perplexity: “The Seattle sailor, Greg Mueller, who was killed during a race week last week? He was going to help me deliver Perplexity back to Seattle. He was a really nice human and well known in the sailing community. He wasn’t a world-class racer or anything. Just someone who loved to sail and tried to do so every weekend whatever the boat.”

For the report on Greg Mueller, please see Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude. Our condolences to John and to all of Greg’s friends and family.

Transpac 40 Years Ago this Month: 46 Seconds Made the Difference

Times change, but the Transpac remains a legendary race with an idyllic course and destination. We looked back to our July 1981 edition to see, first, if we’d done a Transpac Preview, which we had. And also if, like this month, we’d picked some winners. We did that too.

There were 74 entries listed in our1981 Transpac Preview.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Latitude 38

In the July 1981 issue of Latitude 38 we picked the following to come out on top: first to finish — Merlin (which is racing again this year!). Corrected time honors: Zamazaan, followed by Travesio, Bravura, and Brisa. The dark horse for a possible long-shot victory was High Noon. First grandma to finish — Betty Browner.

Where does “46 seconds” come in? It was a fast year for the Transpac. Nicholas Frazee, a former commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club, had chartered the four-year-old Transpac record holder Merlin, with hopes of earning barn-door honors by being first to finish. It turned out we were right, though it was a surprisingly close contest. On the course that year was the previous year’s winner, Drifter, the 62-ft Ragtime (now under refit at Sugar Dock in Richmond), and the 84-ft Christine.

After damage to their main rivals, it was Nick Frazee and the crew aboard Merlin racing down the Molokai channel in solid position to take first-to-finish honors. But, given the breezy year, they were also within sight of beating Merlin’s 1977 Transpac record. As they neared the finish the breeze lightened and they slowed from their 28-knot peaks to 10-12 knots of boat speed. When they crossed they were easily first overall but had missed the Transpac record by 46 seconds.

We know it’s easy to lose 46 seconds on a five-mile beer can course, so you can imagine the hundreds of ways they might have thought of to find those 46 seconds on the 2,250-mile Transpac. Overall winners in 1982 were 1st: Farr 36 Sweet Okole, 2nd: Choate 40 Audacious, and the Frers 46 Bravura.

Zamazaan had a great race, winning Class A with current St. Francis YC Staff Commodore Kimball Livingston aboard. Our ‘dark horse’ pick, High Noon, had a wild ride, surviving with a 10th-place finish and with the ‘port watch’ earning the nickname the ‘Broach Brothers.’

If you’re racing the Transpac this year you might want to reread the story from 1981. Those 46 seconds will help keep you motivated at 2 a.m.. The 2021 Transpac starts on July 13.

One other oddity we rediscovered looking back on 1981 — we printed two July issues and no June issue. How do things like that happen? We can only imagine that the 2 a.m. deadline, typesetting and proofing was as crazy as ever.

Sailagram: A Snapshot of June Sailing

Summer officially kicked off last month and with it Summer Sailstice, the Delta Ditch Run, Singlehanded Transpac, and a whole lot more sailing. Our June Sailagram is packed full of photos from the sailors who make up our incredible community.

Did you miss out on having your photo featured this month? Send your sailing photos to [email protected] to be included in our next Sailagram.

How Sunscreen Affects the Planet
June 8 was World Oceans Day, and across this month we've been searching for stories that focus on the health and restoration or protection of our oceans. We've covered plastic pollution, but what about sunscreen pollution?