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December 27, 2023

Rolex Sydney Hobart Race — West Coast’s S/V ‘Lenny’ Heads to Hobart With Precious Cargo Aboard

When the 103 entrants in this year’s Sydney to Hobart ocean race crossed the starting line, none carried a more precious cargo than Charles Devanneaux’s Beneteau First 44, Lenny. Devanneaux, owner of Marina del Rey’s Naos Yachts, is making his first appearance in the storied 628-mile ocean race, skippering Lenny. His boat is the only US-flagged vessel in the race. The boat is named after American Sailing Association (ASA) founder Lenny Shabes, who passed away at the age of 75 last January. Devanneaux credits his association with Shabes as being instrumental in both his sailing and business lives.

“In tribute to Lenny and in commemoration of everything he has done for the sailing community, we have stowed aboard some bottles of Lenny’s favorite vintages: a 2000 Ducru Beaucaillou Bordeaux, an Italian Nebbiolo and a Château Bechevelle 2005, also from Bordeaux, with the expectation that we will raise a glass in his honor once we are safety tied up dockside in Hobart,” Devanneaux told Latitude 38 on the eve of the big race.

“Racing the Hobart is a lifelong dream,” Devanneaux said. “Lenny and I talked about it many times. It’s only fitting that we celebrate the life and legacy of one of sailing’s greats with a toast to all that a crew working together can accomplish, even when faced with difficult conditions.”

The bottles of wine couldn’t be safer.

Lenny’s crew with owner/skipper Charles Devanneaux front and center.
© 2023 Charles Devanneaux

The First 44 is a performance cruiser built with the safety and comfort of its crew uppermost in mind. Devanneaux’s motto for his Hobart campaign is Sécurité — French for safety. The 50-year-old veteran ocean racer and California Beneteau dealer views the first couple of hours of the race as critical.

“I’ve watched the start on TV for lots of years. The mistake skippers make is they push too hard at the start. This is a long race. You don’t want to jeopardize your boat or your crew to gain a few places at the start. You have lots of miles to make it up,” Devanneaux says.

Below, Devanneaux chats with roving sailing reporter Cappy, ahead of the race start:

True to form, Lenny picked her way through the start on Boxing Day. The day dawned partly cloudy with the promise of big seas and unsettled weather over the next several days. Lightning bolts danced across the horizon. Four- to six-foot swells greeted the boats as they made for the Tasman Sea. Plowing through a crowded fleet, Lenny emerged through the Heads in the middle of the pack of 20 boats in her starting group. Devanneaux set the boat’s sails for a fast run down the coast. He anticipates making landfall in Hobart in a little under four days. Seven hours into the race, Lenny was 30 miles from Sydney, making 5.5 knots as she headed down the Australian coast. The maxi Andoo Comanche is presently* [at the time of this report] line honors leader, making 25 knots with 500 miles to go the finish.

sydney hobart boats racing
Weather reports indicated a potentially rough ride ahead for the 83rd Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
© 2023 Craig Ligibel

No matter the weather, life on board Lenny promises to be one without compromise. Notable among the crew is Pierre Follenfant, who proudly took his place in the galley as he prepared mouthwatering French cuisine throughout the voyage.

“Just because you are sailing that’s no excuse not to eat well,” Devanneaux said. Onboard meals include steak and veggies, quiche Lorraine, pasta carbonara, and duck pâté and rillettes.

“It’s something to see Pierre cooking away when the boat is heeling 15 degrees. The food he produces in our galley is worthy of a Michelin star,” Devanneaux adds.

Pierre Follenfant gets to work in Lenny’s galley.
© 2023 Pierre Follenfant

*As of 10:30 a.m. (PST) the race leaders, Andoo Comanche and LawConnect, were less than 60 miles from the finish, with “only 300 metres separating them in terms of distance to go and are in sight of each other.”

You can follow the leaders, Lenny, and the other boats at

Good Jibes #122: “Dawn Patrol — Jumping the Puddle Singlehanded” (L38 Verbatim)

This week’s host, Ryan Foland, reads an article from the January 2023 issue of Latitude 38 sailing magazine: “Dawn Patrol — Jumping the Puddle Singlehanded” by Ben Lindner.

Ben Lindner
In June and July last year, 69-year-old Ben Lindner became the latest singlehander to sail the Pacific Puddle Jump, aboard one of its smallest boats, his Oregon-based Pacific Seacraft 27 Orion, Dawn.
© 2023 Ben Lindner

This episode covers everything from the Pacific Puddle Jump to Nuku Hiva. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:

  • What is the Pacific Puddle Jump?
  • Where did Ben begin his journey?
  • What is the ITCZ?
  • Where is Nuku Hiva?
  • What is a rhumb line?
  • Did Ben cross the equator?
  • Where is Hiva Oa?
  • Did Ben explore the Society Islands?

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and your other favorite podcast spots — follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re feeling the Good Jibes!

Follow along and read the article at