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May 27, 2022

‘Suntory Mermaid III’ Only Days Away From Final Destination

As Kenichi Horie continues to sail across the Pacific aboard Suntory Mermaid III, the vessel’s Furuno tracker shows he is now only days from his final destination, Shin Nishinomiya Yacht Harbor (Nishinomiya, Hyögo Prefecture, Japan). The 83-year-old solo sailor departed San Francisco on March 26, and has so far spent 56 days at sea, on a solo voyage that he had estimated would last two and and a half months.

untory Mermaid III tracker
The tracker’s stats show Kenichi as being 92.6% of the way to his destination.
© 2022

Assuming all goes according to plan, Kenichi is set to become the oldest person in the world to cross the Pacific Ocean without stopping at a single port. His first solo Pacific crossing from Japan to San Francisco was in 1962. He was 23 years old. He is currently undertaking his 11th major voyage.

Kenichi Horie Mermaid
In 2002 Kenichi sailed back from Japan to San Francisco in Malts Mermaid III, a replica of the original Mermaid, though built from recycled whiskey barrels. The voyage was dedicated to San Francisco Mayor George Christopher, who had welcomed him in 1962 and passed away in 2000.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / JR

In the few weeks since we last checked in on Kenichi’s progress, he appears to have retained his good spirits and positive attitude. Weather has been both for and against his progress. On May 19 he reported a squall had come through soon after midnight. “In the weather forecast, I was told to be careful about sudden changes in the wind and unstable weather. Around 1 a.m., a squall came. Although the waves were relatively small, the wind direction was not stable from north, south, east and west, and was swung until around 3 a.m.”

Yet on the following day, as he was trying to reach the sea near North Iwo Jima, he was wanting more wind. “Not only is the wind weak this time, but it is also a headwind even if it blows. The waves are less than 1m and Osaka Bay class. It’s too calm. Blow more, wind.”

While the next few days continued to see Suntory Mermaid making slow progress, by May 24 the winds had returned. “It seems that we have entered the north side of the front. It is sunny and cloudy with a northeasterly wind. It is about 1000km (540nm) south of Tokyo. It’s a little more. If this kind of wind continues, I can get there sooner …”

Throughout his journey, Kenichi has enjoyed amateur radio. and at one point he was able to communicate with a total of 38 stations from Hokkaido to Okinawa. His food stores are lasting well. though at some times, cloud cover has meant the solar panels struggled to keep up with his needs. “From Hawaii to Minamitorishima, it is sunny every day and the solar cells are in full operation. The battery was always full. After Minamitorishima, there were many cloudy and rainy days, and the battery level was low. You should be able to charge it today. I want to do amateur radio on Saturday even if I save time.”

We wish Kenichi fair winds and following seas, and sufficient sunshine, as he enters the last few days of his 6,000-mile voyage.

Steve Fossett’s Former ORMA 60 ‘Lakota’ Attacked off Yemen

In Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude, we relayed the story of the “nine lives” of trimarans as the ORMA 60 Mighty Merloe sailed in under the Gate under new ownership, and with a new mission.

While we were writing, another ORMA 60, Lakota, formerly owned by Steve Fossett, was sailing from the Philippines to the Med when she was attacked by pirates off the coast of Yemen.

Steve Fosset's Lakota
The storied ORMA 60, once sailed to victory by Florence Arthaud, and later by Steve Fossett, is now owned by French solo yachtsman Philippe Poupon.
© 2022 Bernard Gallay Yacht Brokerage

The approach to and the run up the Red Sea off the coast of war-torn Yemen has been the site of some of the most worrisome attacks on world cruisers. According to the Raleigh News & Observer, at the time of Lakota‘s attack, there was an EU force in the region, but before they could reach the trimaran, the militants fired some 20 warning shots and displayed assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Apparently, one of the pirates actually boarded Lakota but jumped overboard after realizing there was no money on the vessel and that he was far from his comrades’ ships.

Lakota was heading up the Red Sea between Yemen and Eritrea.
© 2022 Google Maps

Fossett bought Lakota in 1993. He raced her to excellent finishes in two Transpacs, and went on to establish 12 ocean racing records. Lakota set the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta record, which was later broken by Thomas Siebel’s MOD70 Orion.

Despite her encounter in the Red Sea, Lakota is apparently safe and will continue on her voyage — another ORMA 60 trimaran living a cat’s nine lives as she heads back to the Med for her next career in ocean racing.

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Max Ebb — Hooked … or not: A Diabolical Halyard Device

In this month’s Latitude 38, Max Ebb explores the halyard hook — a device that locks the main halyard at the top, and eliminates extra compression in the mast  — while sailing a classic yacht in a “gentleman’s race.”

“Mousetrap engaged,” the bow crew reported back to me. He was referring to the halyard hook, a diabolical device at the top of the mast that locked the main halyard at the top, taking the load off the part of the halyard that goes down the mast to the halyard cleat. It eliminates extra compression in the mast caused by the halyard.

“Roger,” I acknowledged. “But I really hate those things,” I had to add. “It’s bad seamanship to have a mainsail that doesn’t come down unless you raise it first and then line it up a certain way just to get the darn thing to release. I can think of too many situations where you need to get the main down quickly, without having to go dead upwind and remember the correct incantation.”

“That’s ’cause you grew up sailing back East, where they have thunderstorms on summer afternoons,” he reminded me.

“Maybe,” I said. “I still don’t like them, but with the noodle of a mast on this old boat, I guess we risk the rig if we don’t use it when the wind is up.”

Max Ebb - Hooked or not ...
“Why do the boats with internal halyards still use halyard hooks,” I asked Lee as we settled into the more comfortable deep-run point of sail, “if the reduced compression doesn’t contribute to the buckling strength of the rig?”
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

It was not my own boat. It was a classic day-racing sloop, designed early in the last century. The owner, away on a business trip, had asked me to race the boat for him in order to keep his series standing from suffering a missed race.

This would be a treat, driving an old classic design. It was billed as a “gentleman’s race:” no spinnaker, small fleet of one-designs, protests discouraged. On the other hand, on race day, the summer sea breeze had come up early, and this boat was all open cockpit, not self-bailing, and probably not having nearly enough flotation to keep it from going straight to the bottom if it flooded. And I had been told by the absentee owner that the way to make the boat go fast upwind was to let it heel way over: “The narrow hull likes to heel,” he advised, “so don’t be afraid to put the rail in the water.”

“There’s no reef point in the main,” I said to my crew. But I noticed that it had the old-style sliding gooseneck and downhaul instead of a Cunningham for luff tension. “Let’s keep the boom down at the bottom of the gooseneck track, and fly the mainsail a little lower down to power it down just a little.”

“No can do, with that halyard hook,” the bow crew reminded me.

“Max, we can lose the halyard hook,” said Lee Helm, who had come along to be the middle crew and call tactics.

“Doesn’t the halyard hook reduce the compression on that thin mast?” I asked. “I have to assume there are halyard hooks on these boats because they need them.”

Continue reading at Latitude

A Preview of Regattas in June

Sailing into June

California Offshore Race Week, which begins tomorrow with the Spinnaker Cup (San Francisco to Monterey) and continues with the Coastal Cup (Monterey to Santa Barbara) that will start on Memorial Day, May 30, will race into June with the Santa Barbara In-Port Race on June 1, followed by the SoCal 300 (Santa Barbara to San Diego) starting on June 2.

Crew of Destin
The crew of the Landmark 43 Destin sails down the coast in the 2021 California Offshore Race Week. Left to right: Nick Diel, owner Romeo Uriarte, Kelsey Tostenson and Duncan Ferguson.
© 2022 Hawkeye King

Long Beach Yacht Club will host the 48th Seawanhaka International Challenge Cup, a match-racing event, on May 31-June 5. The 10 teams will come from all over the world to sail in provided Catalina 37s. California teams include the defending host club and St. Francis YC. LBYC is hosting the regatta because they won the previous edition in 2019, sailed in Match 40s in Oyster Bay, New York. The finals came down to LBYC and the host, Seawanhaka Corinthian YC. The LBYC team consisted of Scotty Dickson, John Busch, Ben Wheatley, Daniel Gorman and Trent Turigliatto.

Gold Country Yacht Club’s Go for the Gold Regatta splashes down on Scotts Flat Reservoir on June 4-5, with pre-registration starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 3. GCYC will host a pancake breakfast on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. on June 5. The scenic venue is nestled in the forested foothills near Nevada City.

The OYRA Full-Crew Farallones Race will sail out the Gate on June 4.

San Diego YC will host a US Match Race Championship Qualifier in J/22s on June 4-5. Also on that weekend: California YC’s Cal Race Week in Marina del Rey. Invited classes include: Farr 40, J/111, J/109, J/105, J/70, J/24, Martin 242, Santana 30/30, Schock 35, Star, Tartan 101, and Viper 640.

Mid-Month Regattas

St Francis YC will hold a US Women’s Match Race Championship Qualifier and Clinegatta on June 10-12. “This is a woman-driver/open crew event (teams of four),” explains Nicole Breault. “The top two skippers get invitations to the Women’s Match Race Championship in August (for all-woman teams), but it will be a grade 4 event with coaching (by me) so will be a great on-ramp for getting into match racing, in and of itself.” Request an invitation here. “Don’t be intimidated,” says Nicole. “You belong if you show passion and focus. Add info about all your racing, not just match racing, not just skippering. Even add info about your crew, especially if they stand out as crackerjacks and have match- or team-racing experience.”

Race from Richmond Yacht Club to Stockton Sailing Club in the Delta Ditch Run on June 11. Sign up by June 5 to save $25. Last call for entries will be June 8. They offer a cruising division too, with a head start and a motoring allowance. The Ditch Run is an official Delta Doo Dah event, but registration is separate.

Also on June 11, San Francisco YC will host the S.F. Schooner Regatta, and Sausalito YC will kick off their Classic Boat Invitational Series.

In the sixth Race to Alaska, 50 teams will embark on Stage 1, The Proving Ground, from Port Townsend, WA, on June 13 at 5 a.m. They’ll have 48 hours to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca and make it to Victoria, BC. For 38 of the teams, June 16 at high noon will see the start of Stage 2, To the Bitter End, the 710-mile trek from Victoria to Ketchikan, Alaska. R2AK had to take two years off due to the pandemic. This year, the removal of one of only two waypoints between Victoria and Ketchikan, the Seymour Narrows, gives racers the strategic decision of going up the inside of Vancouver Island or going out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca into the Pacific Ocean. The public is invited to the Northwest Maritime Center on June 12 to meet the teams and celebrate their impending adventure at the Ruckus, a free block party.

Father’s Day Weekend

There will no doubt be some proud papas at the US Youth Match Racing Championship/Rose Cup, hosted by Long Beach YC on June 15-19.

Corinthian YC will host the 2022 PICYA Lipton Regatta on June 17-19, Father’s Day Weekend. StFYC is again supplying their 10-boat fleet of J/22s, and nine clubs — Berkeley, Encinal, South Beach, Sausalito, St. Francis, Corinthian, Inverness, Richmond and San Francisco — are signed up. So one more boat is available. Click here to enter. Saturday afternoon festivities will include music and games: a liar’s dice tournament, cornhole toss and jumbo Jenga.

US Open Sailing Series will race in San Diego on June 17-19. ILCA 4, ILCA 6, ILCA 7, Nacra 15, 29er, International 420, Finn and Snipe are the invited classes. (Finns and Snipes race on the weekend only.) New this year: Sailors competing in Olympic classes will be eligible for prize money at each event. Athletes can win $1,000 for first place, $500 for second, and $250 for third.

BAMA’s Doublehanded Farallones Race, postponed from stormy April 9, will get another chance on June 18. Register by June 16 at 9 p.m.; 49 boats had signed up as of this morning. The DHF is also an official Summer Sailstice event.

Farallon Islands
The sun shines on SE Farallon Island for the 2018 rounding.
© 2022 Jennifer McKenna

Later in the Month, North and South

Register for Anacortes Race Week before May 31 to avoid the late fees. The event dates are June 20-24. As in 2021, the racing area will be off the northeast shores of Guemes Island, but racers can expect more creative courses in 2022, and also some fun distance races. There will also be a casual cruising race each day for cruisers. This regatta is the grandchild of the famous Whidbey Island Race Week.

Co-hosted by Alamitos Bay YC and Long Beach YC, Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week will return on June 24-26 after a two-year hiatus. The regatta offers “superb racing by day and sublime partying by night.” Bruce Cooper will present a weather briefing on Friday morning before the racing begins. Sign up at by June 1 to avoid a late entry fee. “Enter by June 21 — or sit on the sidelines and cry.”

Mission Bay YC in San Diego will host the US Youth Championship on June 23-26.

Many more worthy regattas and events crowd the June calendar, but we’ve run out of room on the space/time continuum. Turn to the Calendar pages in the June issue of Latitude 38, coming out on Tuesday, May 31, for oh-so-much more.

Looking Ahead (Waaay Ahead) to Summer 2023

The 2022 Pacific Cup hasn’t even started yet (that will be on the week of July 4), but entry opened today for the 2023 Transpac. John Raymont’s Ker 51 Fast Exit II is the first entry, but Chip Merlin’s Bill Lee 68 Merlin and John Sangmeister’s Andrews 68 Rock ‘n’ Roll have also signed up already. The start dates will be June 27, June 29 and July 1, 2023.

Sailors' Stories
Liz is an environmental activist and the author of "Swell: A Sailing Surfer’s Voyage of Awakening," recounting her decade-long journey of sailing the world and living aboard her Cal 40, 'Swell.'