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June 16, 2023

All-Female Team Takes On Jules Verne Trophy

The Jules Verne Trophy, considered one of the toughest ocean challenges in the world, has been dominated by male sailors; so far no woman has been part of any crew competing for the prestigious prize. That is all about to change with the announcement of the first all-woman team that will race to claim the trophy. The campaign, named The Famous Project, was announced in a press release on Tuesday and is led by Alexia Barrier and Dee Caffari, both of whom have impressive international sailing résumés.

Dee Caffari may be known to our readers for her many high-profile sailing races and challenges that we’ve featured in previous stories, such as Sailing with Michael Moradzadeh aboard Oaxaca when the team won their class in the 2019 Transpac, and skippering the Clean Seas/Turn the Tide on Plastic team in the 2018 Volvo Ocean Race. Caffari is known as “a record-breaking round-the-world sailor with six circumnavigations under her belt and is the only woman to have sailed around the world solo, in both directions.”


Jules Verne Trophy sailor Dee Caffari
Dee Caffari was one of the only two women competing in the “brutal and carnage-strewn” 2008/2009 Vendée Globe race.
© 2023 Charlie Clift

“This project will break down barriers. It will be the pinnacle of my career, a special record that few people have achieved or even attempted before. It’s a great sporting challenge, but the project in itself is so much bigger. This is about creating an impact for women all around the world,” co-skipper Caffari said in Tuesday’s press release.

In addition to Barrier and Caffari, the crew currently comprises Helena Darvelid (SWE), 12 world speed-sailing records; Sara Hastreiter (USA), round-the-world sailor and mountain adventurer; Elodie Jane Mettraux (SUI), leading multihull specialist; Joan Mulloy (IRL), offshore solo specialist; Marie Riou (FRA), The Ocean Race winner; Marie Tabarly (FRA), skipper of Pen Duick VI. Among them these woman claim 12 circumnavigations of the planet, 54 transatlantic races, three transpacific races, 28 world records and 16 championship titles.

The Famous Project will be running a two-boat campaign. The former Spindrift MOD70 — renamed Limosa — will be the training and selection platform. The team has also been supported by IDEC and has been given use of the Ultime IDEC SPORT (formerly Groupama 3, Banque Populaire VII). The boat is the current holder of the Jules Verne Trophy record and three-time winner of the Route du Rhum.

In addition to racing around the world, the team will develop education and scientific programs around ocean health. “The Famous Project is more than attempting to set the Trophy Jules Verne record,” commented Barrier. “Over the coming months we will unveil the scientific program we will be undertaking with our partner, UNESCO, as well as a global educational program, which will bring to life the importance of ocean health for schoolchildren. The Famous Project will leave an impact for many years to come.”

The Famous Project is running a lengthy training and selection schedule throughout 2023 and 2024, and will be on standby to commence their campaign, on the ocean, from October 2025. The team’s website,, is still under construction, but we encourage you to bookmark the site to check back in for updates.

Baja Ha-Ha Update Pt. 2: “The Marina Situation in Mexico”

Last week we shared Part One of the Poobah’s update on marina availability for the Baja Ha-Ha fleet in Mexico. After covering the usual options of Cabo, La Paz, and the nearby islands, we now head across the Sea of Cortez to Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta, which despite being another 290 miles away, the Poobah says could be a faster and easier option.

How might it be faster and easier? Because of the weather. The normal wind in mid-November is from the north and northwest. If it’s 15 knots or more, the short and steep Sea of Cortez chop — a real shock after Ha-Ha downwind conditions — could result in most boats holing up in Frailes or Muertos, the only two possible stops on the way to La Paz. Holed up for as much as three days. And between the stops there is just one restaurant, and nothing else. By that time they might have had a pleasant off-the-wind sail to Banderas Bay/Vallarta.

Marina Puerto de la Navidad has become an extremely popular cruiser marina in recent years. But there is also a great free anchorage in the lagoon a short distance away.
© 2023 Richard Spindler

Mazatlán is the second-closest destination to Cabo after La Paz, but depending on the strength of the wind, it can be a tight reach in beam conditions to Mazatlán. That’s not so fun. Motoring would be fine, but it’s a longer trip than to La Paz, although Mazatlán tends to be one of the last places to run out of slips.

For what it’s worth, Assistant Poobah Patsy Verhoeven heads right up to La Paz after each Ha-Ha. She likes the snorkeling at Frailes and Muertos on the way up, and notes that in 16 years she’s only had to hole up once for three days on the way to La Paz. She loves La Paz for the big, free Ha-Ha Welcome Party, the great cruising community, all the great services, and the fabulous food.

If you’re going north after the Ha-Ha, Frailes is one of two great stops. But there is nothing there.
© 2023 Richard Spindler

The downside of La Paz is that by the end of the first week in December or so, the water becomes too cold for comfortable swimming. And to the surprise of many, it stays too cold until April. Air temps are rarely an issue. La Paz is so popular with cruisers that many end up staying for years, if not buying homes there.

The Poobah, on the other hand, takes Profligate directly to La Cruz on Banderas Bay, which is about 250 miles farther south, where the water stays much warmer and out of the reach of Northers. In addition to having one of the greatest flat-water tropical daysailing bays in the world, it’s got great surfing, countless whales, and the conveniences of a much larger city. And there is a big Ha-Ha Welcome party in La Cruz in mid-December, as well as the annual opening of the Punta Mita Yacht and Surf Club during the Banderas Bay Blast.

El Cid is one of several marinas in Mazatlán, a booming city beloved by many of the liveaboards there. But be careful at the entrance if there is a swell running.
© 2023 Richard Spindler

There are four large marinas in the Vallarta/Banderas Bay area, each one of them very different; from the resort-like Paradise Village Marina, to big-city Marina Vallarta, to Marina Riviera Nayarit in the funky cruiser heaven of La Cruz. Boats that get there quickly after the Ha-Ha often have a chance to snag a berth for the holidays.

There are additional marina options farther from Cabo, and at the beginning of the season they are often more likely to have slips. But each marina situation is unique.

A complete updated list of marinas in Mexico, as well as their contact information, can be found on the Ha-Ha website at See the “Mexican Marinas” blue tab on the left. It can also be found in the 2023 First-Timer’s Guide to Cruising Mexico, which is sent free to all Ha-Ha entries.

If the Poobah had one season to cruise Mexico before returning home or heading off to the South Pacific, he would immediately jam up into the Sea of Cortez, perhaps as far north as Isla San Francisco, then head to Vallarta/Banderas Bay for the holidays. After that, he would drift south, perhaps all the way down to Z-town for SailFest in early February, then start working his way back north. Come mid-March he’d head back over to the Sea. If heading back to the States, he’d ideally not Bash until August or September, when the weather windows are more frequent and longer, and the coast of Baja is warmer.

That’s the way the Poobah sees it, but other opinions are encouraged.

Did the Poobah forget to remind you to make marina reservations immediately if you’re going to want a slip? I hope not. Airline reservations are just as important.

One last comment on slips. As you might expect, lots of skippers make reservations for a slip months in advance, but for any one of a million reasons, don’t make it the 1,000 miles to their chosen marina. Which means it’s not unusual for slips to unexpectedly open up. But you have to be on the scene to take advantage of such openings.

Looking forward to sailing to and in Mexico with all of you.

Meet Our Latest Golden Ticket Winner, David Littlejohn

June is a lucky month for some; among those is David Littlejohn who found a Golden Ticket inside his June issue of Latitude 38.

Golden ticket winner David Littlejohn
David shows off his magazine and winning ticket aboard his Wyliecat 30 Slippery Slope.
© 2023 David Littlejohn

David’s sailing life began in the mid-’70s. During his student days at UC Berkeley, he and his friends would rent boats from Cass’ [Gidley] Rental Marina in Sausalito. “I didn’t know how to sail,” David says, “but enjoyed the experience. Later, I joined Cal Sailing Club and actually learned how to sail on Lido 14s and Pearson Ensigns.”

Though he was once an avid racer, these days you’re more likely find David singlehanding on the Bay or outside the Gate aboard his Wyliecat 30, Slippery Slope, which he bought during the pandemic. “I really like how it handles,” he says, and adds that he sails to “get away from everything else and focus on the wind and the water.”

David sails by Point Bonita in 2015 aboard his previous boat, a Cal 27.
© 2023 David Littlejohn

David is a member of the Richmond Yacht Club, which he says is an excellent location from which to get out on the Bay, and boasts a total of seven Wylie Cats. It’s also where he picked up his June issue — from the harbormaster’s office — with its Golden Ticket inside.

While sailing close to home is the norm, David has had his share of offshore voyages, including three Pacific Cups. But his most memorable sailing trip, he tells us, was sailing with his friend Bob on the Call of the Sea’s Seaward from Newport to Cabo, with skipper Jay Grant and the boat’s cook, Monica Grant. “It was my first time on a large sailing vessel. The small towns, marine life, and desert scenery were a nice change from winter in the San Francisco Bay.”

David (left) and his friend Bob Adams aboard Seaward, somewhere in Mexico, January 2020.
© 2023 Bob Adams

David has chosen a blue Latitude 38 cap, which is in the mail. And if you don’t have your June issue yet, or don’t know where to get one, you can find your nearest distributor here.

Collision Halts 11th Hour Racing at the Start of Leg 7 in The Ocean Race

To finish first you first must finish. Sadly, the leader of The Ocean Race, 11th Hour Racing Team, has been forced to suspend racing approximately 15 minutes after the start of the final leg, after suffering extensive damage when they were hit by GUYOT environnement – Team Europe.

The collision damaged both boats, which have returned to port in The Hague. No injuries were reported.

On first appearances, it would appear to be a rules infringement by skipper Benjamin Dutreux’s GUYOT team, who apparently didn’t see the 11th Hour Racing Team boat until it was too late.

“Their boat appeared in front of me and it was too late,” Dutreux admitted dockside. “It was impossible then to avoid contact (after I saw them). I take all responsibility. It’s our fault for sure.”

For his part, 11th Hour Racing Team skipper Charlie Enright said he tried to avert a crash, but once he realized the give-way GUYOT boat wasn’t changing course, it was too late.

“Obviously this is an extremely unfortunate situation,” he said after returning to the dock. “We tacked on the layline to mark 4, clean and clear; I don’t want to speculate, but it seems that the other boat didn’t see us. We were the right-of-way boat. The impact was forceful — we are very lucky that everybody is OK …

“Accidents happen, and I know it’s clear they wouldn’t want to end our race, just as we wouldn’t want to end their race. We’ll just have to see what happens next. It’s definitely not over until it’s over — this is not going to be the reason that we don’t finish the job. Whatever it takes — we will figure it out.”

11th Hour RacingGuyot
Guyot environnement skipper Benjamin Dutreux looks at the damage on 11th Hour Racing after he collided with them shortly after the start.
© 2023 Felix Diemer / Guyot Environment

Shortly after 2030 local time in The Hague, GUYOT environnement – Team Europe announced they would retire from the leg, and have offered any and all assistance to 11th Hour Racing Team.

“I’m very sorry about this,” Dutreux said. “I really hope they will get back and win this race … We will try to help them all we can.”

While 11th Hour Racing is assessing their options, Holcim-PRB, Team Malizia and Biotherm, plus the returned fleet of Volvo Ocean 65s, remain on course sailing the seventh leg of The Ocean Race from The Hague to Genoa, Italy. 11th Hour Racing had won the last three legs. and a win on this leg would have given them the overall win.

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