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January 8, 2024

Kirsten Neuschäfer Awarded Cruising Club of America’s Blue Water Medal

Kirsten Neuschäfer has been awarded the Cruising Club of America’s Blue Water Medal for 2023, in recognition of the tremendous effort, determination, and skill she exhibited during her 235-day solo circumnavigation aboard her Port Townsend, WA built Cape George 36, Minnehaha. Neuschäfer was the first of only three finishers of the Golden Globe Race, which began with 17 competitors. The singlehanded race around the world limits competitors to sailboats and technology that was available when the first race was held, in 1968.

The Blue Water Medal was originated by the founding members of the Cruising Club of America (CCA) and first awarded 100 years ago to “reward examples of meritorious seamanship and adventure upon the sea, displayed by amateur sailors of all nationalities …”

In her comprehensive preparation for the race and her determined persistence throughout the eight-month marathon, Neuschäfer demonstrated she belongs on the very distinguished list of medalists including previous Golden Globe winners Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Jean-Luc Van Den Heede. She also takes her place alongside other solo circumnavigators such as Sir Francis Chichester and Bernard Moitessier.

Kirsten Neuschäfer aboard Minnehaha during the Golden Globe Race. The Cape George 36 hails from Port Townsend, Washington.
© 2024 Cruising Club of America

As an example of her determination, during one week in January while crossing the Southern Ocean, Neuschäfer spent several hours scraping speed-robbing barnacles off the bottom of her boat. She reported to race headquarters, “I discovered that the port side was like a reef; old barnacles and millions of new ones. Thankfully the starboard side was not that bad. I spent several hours cleaning ¾ of the hull so far with the scraper. It was cold, exhausting, but very gratifying to watch clusters of millions of tiny barnacles sink into the deep!”

In winning what was only the third Golden Globe Race held, Neuschäfer became the second woman (correction – thanks to Mark Wheeles in Comments below) to compete in the race, the first woman to win the race, and the first woman to win any singlehanded race around the world.

Kirsten Neuschäfer
Kirsten Neuschäfer (39) became the first woman to win a round-the-world race by the three great capes, including solo and fully crewed races, nonstop or with stops, and the first South African sailor to win a round-the-world event.
© 2024 Cruising Club of America

Along the way, she also stopped competing temporarily to rescue fellow competitor Tapio Lehtinen after his boat sank; she helped him safely aboard a passing ship and then continued the race. (Neuschäfer received the CCA’s Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy last year for making that rescue.)

When she learned of her Blue Water Medal win, Neuschäfer said, “I was already so incredibly honored to receive the Rod Stephens Award. Now I am again so honored as to be receiving the Blue Water Medal from the CCA! This is an honor I never dreamed of — a medal, which in my mind is due only to the caliber of the most legendary of sailors, such as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Moitessier themselves. I am truly humbled!”

When she finished the Golden Globe last April, Neuschäfer was still ready to go. She said, at the time, “You know, I’ve still got plenty of food and water. I’m still enjoying myself. I’d have no issue to just keep sailing.” We believe she will continue to do that and continue to set an example for all sailors, women and men.

“She is the real deal — a sailor who stands out in a crowd of historic sailors,” said CCA Commodore Chris Otorowski. “We are proud to be able to award the Blue Water Medal to her.”

The CCA will present the 2023 Blue Water Medal to Kirsten Neuschäfer in person at its annual awards event on March 1 in New York City.

Other Cruising Club of America award winners include Maxwell Fletcher — Far Horizons Award; Ralph Naranjo — Richard S. Nye Award; and Max Campbell — Young Voyager Award, and Paul Bieker (the West Coast designer whose story well share next) — Diana Russell Award.

Sailing Science Center Is Teaching ChatGPT To Sail

Jim Hancock, founder and executive director of the San Francisco Sailing Science Center, has jumped in with ChatGPT’s generative AI to try to create some images for their end-of-year newsletter. It appears that ChatGPT is no different from any new sailor. It takes time to learn about apparent wind, how to set sails, and all the intricacies of tuning a boat to the breeze.

Sailing Science Center 2024
When looking ahead to 2024, the boat was actually planing backward. ChatGPT also didn’t quite nail the hoist.
© 2024 Jim Hancock

As Jim described, it took almost 50 images to get to the final two he used in his email. “AI makes a huge number of mistakes, many of which are hilarious and many of which are very human-like. In this instance, I was frustrated by a dozen attempts to get an image looking over the stern of a sailboat. The AI kept giving me images looking over the bows of boats moving at warp speed in reverse!”

Sailing Science Center 2023
When looking back at 2023, at least the boat was moving ahead.
© 2024 Jim Hancock/ChatGPT

The technology being used to design the America’s Cup boats is creating boats that are closing in on being unmanned spaceships, which is a trend that will likely continue as generative AI learns to sail and sends its design results off to a 3D printer somewhere. The renderings for new boat designs often take on a similar feel, so we imagine it won’t be long before ChatGPT is a pretty good naval architect and sailor.

Sailing Science
The UC Berkeley student-built Flow Loop.
© 2024 Sailing Science Center

In the real world, the Sailing Science Center is building tangible demonstrations available to schools and others wanting to bring hands-on learning closer to real people. The Flow Loop exhibit stands out not only as the SSC’s most substantial exhibit, but also as one of the first to be student-built — it was completed by students in UC Berkeley’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. The photo above shows it being wheeled into the Exploratorium for an engagement in December.

Sailing Science finally sails into 2024.
ChatGPT was getting better as it finally sailed into the new year. Next it will learn to jibe.
© 2024 Jim Hancock

It took a while for ChatGPT to create the image Jim was looking for, but his perseverance paid off when the final pictures were created.

The Sailing Science Center is dedicated to helping people understand the world through the many lessons available from sailing. It only makes sense for SSC to use the latest technology to bring more people an understanding of sailing and the Earth.

You can see the final email here.

More Information, and a Correction, About Anchoring in the Port of Los Angeles

Readers — We made a mistake. (Or rather, I did.) In the December 2023 ‘Lectronic “Can Cruisers Anchor in the Port of Los Angeles?,” I mistakenly referred to both the ports of Long Beach and L.A. simply as “the Port of Los Angeles.”

“You tried to answer a question and made everything far muddier,” said one reader, who understandably assumed that we didn’t know that there were two distinct and separately governed ports within the same massive breakwater in the heart of the Los Angeles coast. We did speak with the City of Long Beach’s marine bureau manager, and the information they gave us is accurate. (We’ll add a bit of info about Long Beach later in this story.)

But in addition to using poor/incorrect wording to describe the individual ports, we … sorry, I … failed to contact the Port of Los Angeles to complete our original query: Can cruisers drop the hook in the Port of L.A.? We are happy to report that the answer is yes, temporary anchoring is allowed inside the port.

Cabrillo Marina is just east of the basin off Cabrillo Beach that is open to temporary anchoring.
© 2024 City of San Pedro

The Port of Los Angeles

A spokesperson for the Port of Los Angeles shared two links with us. The first “boaters” link describes the launch ramp, public landings, and recreational courtesy docks within the Port of L.A., as well as links to the 15 marinas within the Port. The “Mariners Guide” link is nearly 90 pages of rules, safety information, maps and charts, phone numbers for maritime services, etc.

Regarding anchoring, we spoke with the Los Angeles Port Police, who are the primary contact for boaters to obtain a permit to drop the hook in the Port of L.A. “We issue permits for around three days; anything longer than that would have to be discussed with our supervisor,” an L.A. Port Police officer told us, adding that in the event of severe weather, permits would be extended to allow boaters safe haven. “We do a background check and see if the vessel is registered and operable,” the officer added; boats are apparently not required to have insurance in order to anchor in the port.

The officer recommended calling the Port Police’s dispatchers directly at (310) 732-3500 for the quickest response. The background check can take as little as 10 to 15 minutes depending on the availability of officers. There is no fee for a permit; sailors anchoring for just a few hours do not need to obtain a permit.

The anchorage itself lies in the southwest corner inside the breakwater, off Cabrillo Beach and near the Cabrillo launch ramp.

Cruisers can anchor off Cabrillo Beach and inside the breakwater, which encompasses the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, but only for three days.
© 2024 Google Maps

What about dinghy docks? That one’s a bit tricky.

“The closest public dinghy dock is at the [Cabrillo] launch ramp, but that’s only for loading and unloading,” the Port Police officer told us. “If it’s during the week and slow, and if you arrange it with the lifeguards, it might be OK [to leave a dinghy for an extended period]. If it’s on a busy weekend, [the dinghy] could be cited or impounded.”

The “boaters link” above mentions two courtesy docks — at berths 85 and 186, the latter of which is currently closed — but both are deep inside the canal separating the harbor shores of San Pedro from Terminal Island. Berth 85 is an eight-mile drive from the Cabrillo Launch Ramp (to be fair, traffic in L.A. is famously terrible), so it’s probably quite the epic dinghy ride to get there.

The Port of Long Beach

To reiterate from our December story, there is a “nearshore ocean area” in the Port of Long Beach, off Island White; that anchorage is only available on Friday through Sunday, along with moorings for rent.

“We highly recommend consulting an L.A. area chartbook,” a Port of Long Beach spokesperson told us this morning. There is an “‘open permit’ to allow for limited anchorage at Island White in the nearshore ocean area,” the spokesperson said. “The permit does not need to be filled out or submitted to our office. A boater needs simply to follow the rules of the open permit while at Island White. Long Beach Fire Department marine safety personnel patrol the area by boat and advise mariners of the open permit and rules thereof daily.” Click here to see the open permit: Open Permit – Island White 11-1-21

Looking to drop the hook in the Port of Long Beach? It is possible and the paperwork is minimal, but anchoring is only allowed on weekends.
© 2024 Google Maps

Apologies again, Latitude Nation, for the mistake, and that I’m just now getting around to correcting it. (The holidays always do a number on me.)

Does anyone have sailing stories or photos from the enormous and densely packed megalopolis in which the ports of Long Beach and L.A. lie? Please comment below, or email us here.

Sharon Green’s ‘Fresh to Frightening’ Film Is Now Available for Streaming

Santa Barbara grand prix racing photographer Sharon Green has traveled the world capturing some of the world’s most memorable photographs from the global yacht racing scene. We’ve featured many of these photos in our magazine over the years, and now we’re pleased to share that a 20-minute sailing documentary, Fresh to Frightening — The Sharon Green Story, has completed a successful two-year North American Film Festival campaign and is available to stream worldwide, exclusively at”

The film’s producer, Gareth Kelly of Bowline Films, who has been traveling the film festival circuit with the multi-award-winning short film, describes their production: “Experience life as a professional yacht racing photographer! Fly in helicopters and bash through waves alongside renowned yacht racing photographer Sharon Green of Ultimate Sailing with the global streaming release of the multi-award-winning short documentary film Fresh to Frightening — The Sharon Green Story.”

Rolex Big Boat Series
Sharon Green has been capturing grand prix sailing on the Bay and around the world for over 40 years.
© 2024 Sharon Green
Our October 2017 cover photo of the Rolex Big Boat Series is one of Sharon’s awesome photos that we’ve featured in the magazine.
© 2024 Sharon Green

Fresh to Frightening chronicles Sharon Green’s life and career, from her early days covering her father’s successful Canada’s Cup campaign through the years after, as she battled in a male-dominated industry, proving herself and covering multiple America’s Cup campaigns, Olympics, Les Voiles de St Barths, Transpacs and many more major yacht-racing regattas, all while perfecting aerial helicopter photography in her signature condition — fresh to frightening — seeking images for her now-famous annual Ultimate Sailing Calendar.

Sharon Green Fresh to Frightening Poster
The poster for the just-released Fresh to Frightening, about acclaimed Santa Barbara grand prix racing photographer Sharon Green.
© 2024 Bowline Films

The film features many of Green’s iconic images from around the world, including Dennis Conner, Ted Turner, Jimmy Spithill, and more. Fresh to Frightening — The Sharon Green Story is a grand tour of many of yacht racing’s greatest moments, narrated by the photographer recording them on film.

Sharon Green
Another day at the office.
© 2024 Courtesy Sharon Green

“It’s been a real thrill to be involved with a film project, as opposed to a regular photo project,” Green said. “It’s such a different world and I’ve been able to go to film festivals and show the film in places like Block Island and Annapolis, and see the reactions from audiences. Gareth (Kelly) did such a good job with the film and we’re both proud and excited to release it to a global audience.”

Sharon Green Pyewacket
Sharon Green captures Pyewacket at full throttle in the 2021 Transpac.
© 2024 Sharon Green

You can see the trailer for the film here:

Like many magazines, Latitude 38 has been fortunate to include many of Green’s shots, from the Rolex Big Boat Series to Transpac, to events from around the world, on the cover and among the magazine’s pages. The color, drama, and action in each photo in her annual Ultimate Sailing Calendar, and in all her race coverage, has helped chronicle the best of these events to bring them alive for our readers. Now, you can buy or rent the film to stream at home here.