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Ronstan Bridge to Bridge

August 27, 2010 – The Bay

Appliances Online
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Herman Winning's Appliances Online blasts downwind in the '10 Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race. © 2018 Sharon Green /

With breeze that peaked in the low 30s and a 3.5-knot ebb, the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race on August 25 was a full-blown carnage fest. The 7.5-mile classic run from the Gate to Yerba Buena Island brought out 57 entries: 37 kiteboarders, 13 Formula boardsailors, 13 18-ft skiffs, and Donald Montague's kite-powered foiling trimaran. By the time the safety boats had recovered all the stragglers, only 33 of them had finished. While the Formula boards had the best finishing record of all the disciplines — 12 made it the whole way — it was the 18-ft skiffs that charged into top-three spots overall.

Australians Michael Coxon, Trent Barnabas and Thurlow Fisher on Thurlow Fisher Lawyers took a conservative line off the start, staying well-clear of the South Tower Demon — which nearly claimed American Howie Hamlin's brand new 18-ft skiff when it capsized shortly after the start — and rocketed down the course at speeds approaching 25 knots, finishing in just over 24 minutes. Next in were Kiwis Alex Vallings, Josh McCormack and Weta designer Chris Kitchen aboard CT Sailbattens, followed shortly thereafter by Aussies Herman Winning, Peter Harris, and Euan McNicol aboard Appliances Online. The top kiter was the Bay's Chip Wasson in fourth, with Aussies John Winning, Andrew Hay and David Gibson aboard the 18-ft Skiff Yandoo in fifth. Steve Sylvester, the top boardsailor came in sixth.

Michael Coxon's Thurlow Fisher Lawyers won the Bridge to Bridge, covering the 7.5 miles in a scant 24 mintues! © 2018 Sharon Green /

The attrition included not just the "normal" stuff like broken bowsprits, but also some pretty serious injuries. skipper, the Bay Area's Chad Freitas, went to the hospital with suspected broken ribs. Maersk Line skipper Kiwi Graham Catley suffered a gash in his leg that went down to the bone and required a trip to the hospital for 40 stitches after he bled all over the St. Francis YC locker room's floor when he removed his wetsuit. Plenty of the skiffs had near-misses and multiple capsizes en route to the finish. The only American skiff to finish, Tangles' Harken Express, sailed by the Bay's Pat Whitmarsh, Mark Breen and Joe Penrod had a romper-stomper trip down the Bay, including two capsizes within sight of the finish.

"We got outside the Gate and were like, 'What are we doing here?'" Whitmarsh said.

The trio managed to get all the way down off Treasure Island before their first flip, but the trip there wasn't exactly routine.

Whitey Breen Penrod
Pat Whitmarsh, Mark Breen and Joe Penrod spear some ebb-tide moguls on their way to the Bay Bridge as the only American skiff to finish the race. © 2018 Sharon Green /

"At one point, both Pat and I were in the water dragging behind the boat," Penrod said. "It was my second time off the boat in 30 seconds, but Mark reacted quickly, grabbed the tiller and oversheeted the main and the spinnaker so we could get back on board."

"I knew there was something wrong when I looked around and realized I was the only guy on the boat," Breen joked.

Coxon went on to wrap-up the win in the 18-ft Skiff International Regatta the following day. Make sure to check out next month's Latitude for more on that.

- latitude / rg

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

Solo Sailor Tells His Tale

August 27, 2010 – San Francisco

In a follow-up to Wednesday's report of a solo sailor being rescued 55 miles off Fort Bragg on Sunday, we spoke with the skipper of the Catalina 27 Amica, John Innes from Vancouver, B.C., about his experience in increasing gale-force conditions.

“I was under storm jib and had concerns about broaching,” Innes told us, “so I hove to and set a parachute anchor. I was doing well, but two or three hours later, a wave snuck through. It threw me up, down, and back down.” While Amica didn’t suffer a total knockdown, she was laid over pretty far.

“As water was breaking over the boat, I heard a not-nice noise,” he recalls. Innes climbed into the cockpit and realized that the bolt holding the rudder post to the tiller head had sheared off. Just as he had gathered his wits and was about to act, the rudder slipped away, leaving the tiller to dangle.

Innes had a tough decision to make — stay with the boat and risk injury (or worse), or call for help. Three days later he was still wondering if he did the right thing. With no way to steer the boat, and with conditions forecast to worsen over the following two days, he could have done little else.

You'll find the rest of Innes's story in the September issue of the magazine, but in the meantime, Innes — who was staying at a youth hostel in the City — says he's not done with sailing. He’ll get another boat sooner or later. “It’s only a matter of time,” he said, his voice taking on a steely tone. “I’ve got a bone to pick with this ocean.”

- latitude / ld

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Ad: Tiburon Waterfront Home

August 27, 2010 – Tiburon

2304 Mar East
Tiburon waterfront home with 6,000-lb. boat lift.
© 2018 Frank Howard Allen Realtors /

This south-facing property on Raccoon Strait is bathed in sunshine and boasts expansive views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco and Angel Island. Four bedrooms and two bathrooms in the main house and a separate studio apartment make this house very functional. The steel piles and dock are two years old. The house is well-maintained and upgraded in many areas.

The lift is in adequate water for almost all tides. Mar East is one of Tiburon's quietest streets with easy access to town — like living in a year-round vacation home. $3,200,000.

Bill Smith ♦ (415) 435-4456 ♦ Email

© 2018 Frank Howard Allen Realtors /

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The Danger of Dinghies

August 27, 2010 – All Over the World

Before going cruising, most sailors put a lot of thought into safety. For example, what they will do to prevent getting hit by a ship, how they will pick up somebody who has fallen overboard, or how they will respond to water inexplicably coming into the hull. What most cruisers don't think about is dinghy safety.

We love the panganeros of Mexico -- but they can drive their pangas like cowboys. If you were in front of this panga, do you think the operator could see you? Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

But they should. In the September issue of Latitude, coming out on September 1, we report on a number of people who have been injured or killed by other boats while in their dinghies. If you're going cruising, you don't want to end up like a sitting duck as they were.

Giles, who has paddled from Catalina to the mainland more than 20 times, is hoping to regain sufficient use of his arms and hands to continue sailing. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The most recent victim we have to report on is Giles Finlayson of the Encinitas-based Newport 41 Petrel. Late last year, while four years into a sailing/surfing safari, the singlehander was hit by a high speed fishing boat off the popular cruiser stop of Langkawi, Malyasia. His arms, which he put up to protect his head from the prop, were chopped up. He was left in the water for dead, his arms attached by little more than skin.

Finlayson was run down by a fishing boat similar to this one, at exactly this spot -- the entrance to Telaga Harbor, Langkawi, Peninsular Malaysia. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Miraculously, the 59-year-old Finlayson survived. Read about the incident, Finlayson's determination to continue on around the world, and what you can do to prevent the same thing happening to you, in the upcoming Latitude. And no matter if you're in a dinghy at Catalina or Cartagena, dinghy defensively.

- latitude / rs

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