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June 30, 2023

Transpac Rescue and News From the High Seas

The 2023 Transpac race from Los Angeles to Hawaii got underway with the first classes starting on Tuesday, the second of the staggered starts leaving yesterday, and the final and fastest boats starting on Saturday. The staggered start is meant to allow slower boats to get off first, with the hope that most boats will arrive within a few days of one another so they can all connect for the finish party and awards. This means some fleets may start out in better winds than others. So far this year, it’s looking as if the Tuesday starters scored the more favorable conditions.

A couple of boats have had to return with damage, though the most significant event so far has been the USCG helicopter rescue of Jerome Sammarcelli from his doublehanded Carbon 32 Sam after he suffered a serious, but not life-threatening, finger laceration 150 miles off the coast. It’s reported he is safely in the hospital in San Diego awaiting surgery. The boat has turned around and is returning to Marina del Rey with co-skipper Ben Kaliwoda bringing her home.

Two other boats are also returning to port, with Nick Green’s Hylas 63 Malilia suffering a broken turnbuckle, and Michael Marion’s Dufour 50 Insoumise safely heading back to port with a broken rudder.

Coast Guard rescue of Jerome Sammarcelli

A Report From Favonius After 43 Hours of Racing

Tuesday starter Greg Dorn and crew aboard his Dufour 46 Favonius sent out a report after almost two days of racing. The start has not been all peaches and cream.

“In chilly air and under a thick blanket of low clouds, Favonius continues to reach for the Hawaiian Isles. After clearing the west end of Catalina and tacking back on to starboard, we sailed into the teeth of the northwesterly that had been blowing offshore for days. The conditions hit us hard with 25-kt winds and 3-meter seas. At dusk on the first night, we did a bearaway sail change to J4 and put a reef in the main, which took much longer than expected. The team did an incredible job up front on the pitching bow with seas washing across.

“Sailing across the swell made for a wet and bouncy ride, preventing the crew from either eating much or sleeping well as the crashing hull sounds made for constant worry of potential unexpected damage to the boat. As we drove on, Le Mal de Mer started stalking the crew taking one victim, the owner, away for 12 hours. Now fully recovered, we have not yet exorcised Le Mal de Mer from the boat, as it hunts another crew member.

“Since the difficult first 30 hours, we are currently sailing in manageable weather with winds of 15 kts and 1- to 2-meter seas. The current sail plan is a full main and J2 while we wait for the wind to veer to a true wind angle greater than 100 degrees, when we plan to hoist our largest jib (the jib topper). The current conditions allow everyone to settle into a regular rhythm of eating, drinking and sleeping.

“Reviewing our position, we are where we wanted to be at this stage. The Transpac race is not won in the first 500 to 600 miles, but it can certainly be lost. We are pleased to have not done the latter.

“Other goings-on about the boat include a complaint to management that crew on the high side of the starboard aft cabin are encroaching on their adjacent leeward teammates due to a sagging lee cloth.

“Advice was given.

“Everyone onboard is well.”

— Greg Dorn

It was a sunny, light-air start for Thursday’s fleets.
© 2023 Bronny Daniels

Transpac Live Aboard the SC52 Westerly

Latitude 38 also did a first-time broadcast of Transpac Live with Andy Schwenk aboard Dave Moore’s Starlink-equipped Santa Cruz 52 Westerly, an hour after they started on Thursday. It’s a new-tech adventure allowing us to talk with Andy and the crew as they were tacking upwind to round the north end of Catalina island before cracking off a bit to start reaching and running to Hawaii.

Depending on all the sailing variables, they hope to make it to Hawaii in under nine days. We are planning at least three more broadcasts, which you can see scheduled here on our YouTube Channel. The plan is for four more live broadcasts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, 7/1, Monday, 7/3, Wednesday, 7/5 and Friday, 7/7.

You can replay our conversation with Andy Schwenk and the Westerly crew after they started the race yesterday. 

The Thursday Transpac starters on the tracker showed the crew of Westerly out front (subject to change) after the fleet passed north of Catalina Island.
© 2023 Transpac / YB Tracker

We’ll be following the fleets as they head across the Pacific, and are looking forward to talking with Andy and the Westerly crew tomorrow at 11 a.m. as they race to Hawaii.

Bay Area Sailor Ronnie Simpson Qualifies for Global Solo Challenge

If you’ve been keeping an eye on our Instagram page, you may have seen a recent post about Bay Area sailor Ronnie Simpson’s qualifying for the inaugural Global Solo Challenge — a singlehanded, nonstop, east-about, around-the-world race via the three great Capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin, and Horn. We chatted with Ronnie on the phone from the Maine Yacht Center (which he says is the “best place in the US to prepare a boat”), where he’s gearing up for his crossing to the race startline in A Coruña, Spain.

Sparrow on the water
Sparrow flies her spinnaker during the 2,000-mile qualifier.
© 2023 Ronnie Simpson

Ronnie is “determined and all-consumed” by his mission to get to Spain, and to complete the race. And while he’s hoping to make it around without stopping, he says there is allowance for emergency stops, but the cost is high. Any boat that stops has to stay put for 96 hours before re-entering the race. As one can imagine, the rest of the fleet can get a long way ahead in that time.

“We can have assistance,” Ronnie says. He has Seattle-based weather router Jason Christensen on his team. Christensen also hooked Ronnie up with a sponsorship from SpaceX and Starlink, which gives him the Starlink unit and data package, and hopefully, a spare dish.

Right now the boat, Sparrow, an Open 50 formerly owned by Whitall Stokes, is undergoing a partial refit including new sails courtesy of Elvstrøm Sails and Challenge Sailcloth, and other much-needed gear from Ronstan, West Marine, New England Ropes, Wichard … We apologize if we missed anyone; it was a little hard to keep up with Ronnie’s enthusiastic chatter.

“I’m super-grateful,” he says, and “constantly amazed and blown away by the amount of support from the marine industry.”

Global solo challenge prep
Getting to work on Sparrow’s hull at Maine Yacht Center.
© 2023 Chris Passas

Despite all the assistance, the campaign has drained much of the funding, and Ronnie says he’s still hoping to find — actually he said “aggressively seeking” — a title sponsor. Someone, or some organization, that can inject a figure in the vicinity of $150K into the race account. But he’s also a realist and says if that kind of cash isn’t coming, he’s going to do the race with what he has.

Aside from wanting to accomplish the solo circumnavigation, Ronnie is racing to represent and create awareness for the 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation US Patriot Sailing — an important cause to the combat-wounded veteran. To date he says they have raised around $70,000 in cash, along with all the in-kind donations.

Sparrow is set to start the race on October 28, which he says will place him “toward the faster end” of the staggered-start fleet. The first of the likely 22 boats that will compete, an S&S 34, will start on August 26 with the last boat, an IMOCA 60, heading off on December 1.

There’s still a good deal of work to be done, including repainting and vinyl-wrapping Sparrow’s hull, but Ronnie is confident of making the start aboard his 29-year-old fiberglass boat, which was designed and built in Australia. That indicates a good pedigree, right? And he intends to honor the boat’s origins with Australia’s sporting emblem, the Boxing Kangaroo, emblazoned on the transom.

As Ronnie prepares for his first solo round-the-world race, we ask what he considers to be his greatest challenge. Raising enough money is his first response, but he says he would just like to finish the race. “To finish first, you first have to finish.”

You can support Ronnie’s Global Solo Challenge campaign by donating to the GoFundMe account, donating directly to US Patriot Sailing, or tracking down that elusive title sponsor. Follow Ronnie and Sparrow on Instagram @captainron_official, or on his website

Dream Yacht: More boats. More destinations. More choice.

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11th Hour Racing Wins The Ocean Race

The Ocean Race left Alicante, Spain, on January 15, and the round-the-world race has just finished in Genoa, Italy. After redress following a collision at the start of the final leg of The Ocean Race, 11th Hour Racing Team has won The Ocean Race — the world’s longest and toughest team sporting event. The Newport, RI-based team is the first US-flagged entry to win The Ocean Race in its 50-year history.

11th Hour Racing Team, winners of The Ocean Race 2022-23, are welcomed to the dock in Genoa, Italy.
© 2023 Sailing Energy / The Ocean Race

In unprecedented scenes, the crew heard about their win via a satellite phone call from team CEO Mark Towill as they delivered their 60-foot IMOCA, Mālama, to Genoa. This followed a redress hearing by the World Sailing International Jury, which awarded the team four points for the final leg, following a no-fault collision just 17 minutes into the start of the final stage of the round-the-world race that forced them to return immediately to port and retire.

The four points of redress put 11th Hour Racing Team three points ahead of Team Holcim-PRB in second place, with Team Malizia in third, Biotherm in fourth place, and GUYOT environnement – Team Europe in fifth.

11th Hour Racing skipper Charlie Enright sailed aboard the TP52 Morning Light during the Transpac in 2007 along with Hawaiian sailor Mark Towill, CEO of 11th Hour Racing, who worked alongside 11th Hour Racing COO, Bay Area sailor Bill Erkelens. Another The Ocean Race participant, Robbie Kane, aboard VO65 class winner Windwhisper, was also aboard Morning Light in 2007 and was part of the cast for the Morning Light documentary produced by Disney Studios in 2008. Roy Pat Disney, son of Morning Light Executive Producer Roy Disney, will head off on his 25th Transpac on Saturday aboard his Andrews 68 Pyewacket.

Charlie Enright, skipper of 11th Hour Racing Team, lifts the 2022–23 race trophy among crew and supporters.
© 2023 Ocean Energy / The Ocean Race

11th Hour Racing is sponsored by Wendy Schmidt, wife of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who has been using ocean racing as a platform to create a team built around ocean and planetary sustainability. She commented, “This victory is an extraordinary accomplishment — but it’s about more than a team winning a race. We want to engage people in the bigger task of protecting our planet, of restoring ocean health, because there is no life on Earth without a healthy ocean.

“This race around the world is a symbol of that task, and we want everyone to be on our team. I am extraordinarily proud of the entire 11th Hour Racing Team and all they have overcome. They did more than sail around the world. They carried the message of sustainability, with the singular focus of restoring ocean health. Today, the real winner of this race is the ocean.”

It was a grueling, high-speed race around the world featuring the longest leg in the history of the race from Cape Town, South Africa, to Itajai, Brazil — a distance of almost 13,000 miles. There were two dismastings, but, amazingly, these blazing-fast foiling boats remained upright and intact while traveling at high speed around the world. We’ll now be waiting to see if and when the dates of the next edition of The Ocean Race are announced.

‘Latitude 38’ July Issue Is Out Today!

It finally feels as if summer has landed, in the San Francisco Bay area at least. We know a lot of readers have been enjoying (or lamenting) higher temperatures for some time already. But today, it’s as though the weather gods are celebrating the arrival of the newest Latitude 38 — the July issue. Yes, folks, it is out today and on its way to your favorite distributor as we write. Take a peek at what’s inside, then go grab your hard copy!

The Coronado 35 Watchfire — A Season in the Delta

July issue 'Watchfire'
Watchfire meandering up Georgiana Slough, one of the most picturesque sloughs in the Delta.
© 2023 Watchfire

Between 1996 and 2000, Russel and Jennifer Redmond sailed their 26-ft Columbia sloop, Watchfire, around the Sea of Cortez for a year, then headed south and through the Canal to Florida and back again to San Diego. After that, Watchfire became famous for having burned to ashes in a wildfire in San Diego’s backcountry; that sad ending was featured in Latitude. They eventually bought Watchfire 2, a Coronado 35, and sailed her to the S.F. Bay Area in 2020, and have since moved on to cruising Puget Sound. Jennifer wrote a book on the Columbia 26 adventures called Honeymoon at Sea: How I Found Myself on a Small Sailboat (Toronto), coming out in September. In this issue we share Jennifer’s story about the months they spent in the Delta before heading on to the Pacific Northwest.

The Basics — How I Plan a Cruise

Sailor Gary Dickinson provides simple, straightforward advice on how to plan for a summer cruise in the Delta, the San Juan Islands, the Channel Islands or anywhere else.

For me, planning a cruise is the start of an exciting adventure! From the first cruise I planned many years ago to my most recent, the steps I take to prepare for each adventure, I’m happy to say, are the same every time.

With proper planning, Gary and family have managed to relax and enjoy many great escapes.
© 2023 Gary Dickinson

The Redesign of San Francisco Marina Seems To Appeal to No One

It’s rare that there’s such widespread agreement on the need to repair a public facility, and apparent indignation at the proposed solutions. San Francisco Marina, which consists of West and East harbors, will soon be permanently transformed. The City of San Francisco has proposed closing East Harbor — also known as Gashouse Cove, home to the lone fuel dock on the Cityfront — in order to clean up toxic sludge. Along with the fuel dock, some 185 slips, which are now mostly empty and in terrible disrepair, will be relocated to West Harbor.

SF Marina upgrade image
The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department concept drawing of a new, dockless East Harbor and an expanded West Harbor.
© 2023 City of San Francisco

Plus, we bring you all your favorite, regular columns:

  • Letters: Will This Be the Last Baja Ha-Ha?; A Boat Evoking Memories, and a Certain Far-Flung Boatyard; Some Coverage of the Cruise-In, Please; and many, many more.
  • Sightings: Legendary Mahina Restored; Warm Up With the Delta Doo Dah; The Port of Los Angeles Goes Sailing; Starlink or Stars?; and other stories.
  • Max Ebb: “To the Guillotine.”
  • Changes in Latitudes: With reports this month on Meraki 2’s South Pacific rendezvous with family on Meraki 1; Mandolyn‘s tough decision to upgrade to Starlink; how Navasana‘s PPJ this year compared to her owner’s first one in 2011 — topped off by a tasty assortment of Cruise Notes.
  • Racing Sheet: California Offshore Race Week connects Northern, Central and Southern California, Delta Ditch Run connects the Bay and Delta, PICYA’s Lipton Cup brings yacht clubs together in friendly competition, and Moore 24s make the pilgrimage to where they were made, in Santa Cruz. Mercurys wrap up their NorCal Series and SoCal sailors trek to Cat Harbor. Plus we visit Cityfront regattas, including the Elvstrom Zellerbach. Box Scores and Race Notes top us off.
  • Loose Lips: Check out the results of the June Caption Contest(!).
  • The sailboat owners and buyers’ bible, Classy Classifieds.

If you’ve subscribed to Latitude 38, you should receive your issue shortly. If you haven’t subscribed, you’re missing out, but you can still pick up your copy from your favorite distributor.

Alameda driver Sue Weaver has been delivering the magazine every month for over 33 years. Thanks a bunch, Sue!
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Today is also a day for celebration because the 2023 Baja Ha-Ha entry packets, with the new First Timer’s Guide and the 2023 flag inside, are going out in the mail to everyone already signed up. Sign up for the Baja Ha-Ha so we can send you a packet too!

Pack ’em up and ship ’em out!
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
You know you want one …
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John


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