If you’re wondering what that colorful speed blur is on the Cityfront, it’s fifty of the world’s fastest kiteboarders racing in the Hydrofoil World Tour, hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club. The event has attracted the world’s best, with sailors hailing from 16 different countries. The event started yesterday and runs through Sunday the 10th.
The results after five races showed the fleet was sorted into clear front runners, with Nico Parlier (France) nabbing straight bullets to put him firmly in the lead, and StFYC’s Johnny Heineken finishing right behind him in every race.
"Actually getting a really windy event here is exciting," said Heineken. "We always talk it up, and then it’s not as windy as we expect. It’s definitely an advantage for the locals, who are more used to this kind of breeze. It seemed to separate the top of the pack a little more quickly.”
Guy Bridge (Great Britain), the Tour’s frontrunner, stands in third. The top female finisher — and 6th overall — is local high school sailor and 2016 Rolex Yachtswoman of the year winner, Daniela Moroz.
"I’m really stoked so far," said Moroz, who’s juggling racing this week with taking final exams to finish her junior year of high school. "I had all top-ten finishes today. Last year, I was all just outside the top ten, so I’m really happy with that. Racing on Thursday nights and training with Johnny Heineken has helped."
Jenn Lancaster, race director of the St. Francis Yacht Club, says racing runs from about 1-5 p.m. each day, with most races lasting about 15 minutes. However, on Saturday there’s also a long-distance race from the St. Francis to the Berkeley Pier and back, though predicted high winds could change the sailing schedule.
We spoke to local kiter Chip Wasson, who said, "The speeds just keep getting faster. The difference is between a super-fast jibe and a great jibe, with super-fast being required to stay anywhere near the top. Saturday’s long-distance race will be interesting with high winds on the Cityfront, but lower winds likely down by the pier. That means — depending on the kite size you sail with — you’ll be overpowered at the top of the course or underpowered down by the pier."
Spectating from the Cityfront or the water should be fun, but if you’re on the water, keep your distance — they’re fast!
This item will be of particular interest to sailors who use gas-powered outboards as their primary source of auxiliary power or for their dinghy. Many of us use jerry cans to supply fuel to our outboards, and we stop at gas stations on our way to the marina to fill our jugs. The following call to action was sent to us by Chris Edmonston, Vice President Government Affairs, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.):
It’s the kick off to summer boating season, but thanks to President Trump’s recent announcement to allow the sale of E15 (15% ethanol) fuel year-round, some boats could be headed for the dry docks. Misfueling, reliability and safety issues, as well as environmental questions have recreational boaters concerned.
Most boat owners refuel their boat at a roadside gas station, not at a marina.
If you were to look at your local gas station’s fuel pump today to ensure you didn’t accidentally pump E15 fuel into your boat, the only warning label required on the station’s gas dispenser is an ineffectual, small, square orange label about the size of a pack of cards.
A 2016 Harris Poll found a concerning 64% of consumers were not sure or didn’t pay attention to the type of gas they used. Using E15 — even just a little bit — voids all boat engine manufacturer warranties. And unfortunately little effort is being made by the federal government to educate the public. Artificially expanding the market for E15 by allowing year-round sales could make it even more challenging for consumers to find preferred ethanol-free (E0) fuel and increase the risk of misfueling.
92% of those polled for a Boating Industry magazine survey in 2017 found ethanol-related issues on boat engines in their workshops. That’s a troubling statistic considering that the federal government already prohibits the use of fuel greater than E10, or 10% ethanol, in marine engines today.
And we’re not achieving environmental progress either with the President’s announcement. The reason that E15 is currently banned for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency during summer months is due to concerns that it contributes to smog on hot days. Ethanol-blended fuels also result in fewer miles per gallon, as ethanol has a third less energy content than gasoline, according to the Department of Energy.
The culprit behind ethanol-blended gasoline is the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – an outdated, fundamentally broken policy that largely requires an ever-increasing amount of corn-based ethanol to be blended in the nation’s gasoline supply. Passed more than a decade ago, the RFS was intended to lower costs, help the environment, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
However the RFS wasn’t designed to factor in the possibility of reduced gasoline consumption — which is what we are seeing in America. The result is more ethanol has to go into less gas.
What we’ve come to learn is that the RFS is hurting — not helping — consumers. We’re concerned the President chose to give a handout to ethanol special interests, in the form of expanded E15 sales, rather than recognize that the RFS isn’t working for Americans or allow for other options.
Congress can still step in and take action by repealing the broken RFS and support other types of renewable fuels, such as biobutanol.
In the meantime, boaters beware and look before you pump.
Happy World Oceans Day, everyone. Now in its 26th year, World Oceans Day started as an annual event to embolden "the voice of ocean" and coastal communities around the world. The event traditionally includes cleanup activities and conservation efforts, as well as a variety of fun events and, dare we say, parties — it’s easy to have fun and pick up trash at the same time.
There are World Oceans Day events being held across the globe. Here in California, there are beach cleanups scheduled for today in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Tonight, the Lark Theater in Larkspur will host a free screening of Albatross, "a love story for our time in the heart of the Pacific."
Tomorrow, the Shark Stewards will hold a "March 4 Oceans" between 2 and 6 p.m. at the Sports Basement in the Presidio. On Sunday, June 10, the Surfrider Foundation will host a beach cleanup between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. at Ocean Beach — people are meeting at Stairwell 17 across from the Beach Chalet.
Also in the Bay, local sailor Matt Woll is hosting a kickoff event to launch a new nonprofit that recycles used plastic water bottles and converts them into a type of gravel — called plavel — that can be used in drainage systems. "Plavel Water" aims to "develop, produce, fundraise, promote and mobilize communities in the repurposing of plastic water bottles as plavel." The launch party will kick off today at Washington Park in Pt. Richmond between 4 and 6 p.m., on the corner of East Richmond and South Garrard.
An engineer by trade, Woll works for Questa Engineering, which is located in Brickyard Cove. Questa says that plavel offers a "major and untapped opportunity to recover and convert plastic water bottles into a viable and useful building material, providing significant benefits to water conservation, environmental quality, public health, sanitation, and green building design."
Questa says that humans are buying and immediately discarding plastic at the staggering rate of one million bottles per minute. While many of us recycle, less than 30% of plastic makes it into the blue bins in the US, and less than 10% worldwide. The horrific pictures of sea life tangled in plastic should be evidence enough that too much waste ends up in the ocean.
Also this weekend, we will be in Alameda for the grand opening of a new West Marine. At 8 a.m., Vice Mayor Malia Vella and Councilman Jim Oddie will officially open the store with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The first 100 customers will receive a free West Marine Gift Card valued at $5-$100.
We will have a booth in the parking lot, and will be selling hats and subscriptions, starting a raffle for T-shirts, and of course, we’ll have a few bundles of the magazine to give away (oh wait, it’s always free!). Please come down, say hi, hang out, and tell us a good sailing story.