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Survivor's Reflection on Farallones Tragedy

April 18, 2012 – Tiburon

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

The yellow X marks the spot where the Sydney 38 Low Speed Chase came ashore Saturday afternoon. © 2018 Jan Roletto

Bryan Chong, 38, of Tiburon was one of three sailors who survived Saturday's tragedy at the Farallon Islands. He made this public statement yesterday:

"I am absolutely devastated at the sudden and tragic boat accident on Saturday afternoon during the Full Crew Farallones Race. I’m in shock at the loss of my five sailing companions Alan Cahill, Marc Kasanin, Jordan Fromm, Alexis Busch, and Elmer Morrissey. Alan and Marc were dear friends and longtime sailing mates, both true watermen when measured by practice and spirit.
"The ocean is powerful and lacks the compassion that has been so generously bestowed by friends, family, neighbors and the sailing community. We’ll spend years looking back on this weekend, asking questions that may never have answers. Sailboat racing is about making the best decision with the information at hand. Organizers strive to create the best routes and race environment. Captains and crew strive to get around the race course as quickly and safely as possible. The entire crew of wet smiles that went sailing toward the Farallon Islands on the Low Speed Chase would not want this tragedy to overshadow the rewards of sailboat racing.

"I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the U.S. Coast Guard, Air National Guard and emergency responders who put their lives on the line for us. Their helicopter rescue reminds me how fortunate we are to have these resources available.

"Finally, I want to thank the San Francisco Yacht Club and the Corinthian Yacht Club for their outpouring of love and compassion during the past 48 hours. The Tiburon Peninsula prides itself on being a close-knit sailing community. This weekend the outpouring of humanity from this community warmed my heart.

"We ask for privacy for our families during this extremely difficult time of loss and profound sadness. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were lost and their families."

We cannot even imagine the shock and grief borne by Bryan, the other survivors, and the friends and families of the five stricken sailors. Our hearts go out to them all. We hope to bring you the full story of how this tragedy unfolded in the May 1 edition of Latitude 38.

- latitude / andy

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Weekend Racing Wrap-Up

April 18, 2012 – San Francisco Bay

Yesterday, we received this message from CYC: "The Corinthian Yacht Club had scheduled Save the Bay Executive Director David Lewis to speak at the club this Wednesday, April 18. The loss of life during the Farallones race this weekend has deeply affected our sailing community and, respecting the grieving process so many of us are feeling, we have chosen to postpone this important talk until a later date. Thank you for your understanding during this difficult time."

It's tough shifting gears, but here goes.

Three J/22s near Angel Island
Six CYC crews sailed chartered J/22s in Belvedere Cove this weekend. © 2018 Phani Datla / Corinthian Yacht Club

Some CYC sailors got to enjoy one design action in J/22s chartered by the club this past weekend. After six races, the top honors went to the husband/wife team of Daniel and Rayleen Thielman who beat out veteran skipper Ted Goldbeck in a double tie-breaker scenario. Check out the photo gallery here.

Two Santana 22s
Three Santana 22s raced neck and neck (the photographer's on the third one) from San Francisco to Angel Island during race 3 of SYC's Women Skippers Regatta on Saturday. Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Meanwhile, Ted Goldbeck's Cal 20 JustEm was busy winning Sausalito YC's Women Skippers Regatta, with Sally Clapper at the helm. More on that in May's Racing Sheet. Results are available at

Bullship Race start
A cluster of El Toros hit the line at 9:00 a.m. Saturday as the gun went off to start the 59th Bullship Race from Sausalito to San Francisco. © 2018 Tom Zinn

Sausalito YC also saw the Bullship racers off on their journey across the Bay to San Francisco in El Toros. "The race started on a strong ebb with a weak easterly wind, a recipe for trouble," reported Gary Hartsock. "Cowships [chase boats] were busy towing Toros that were swept under the Bridge by the ebb." Of 24 skippers who signed up, two did not start, two returned to Sausalito, 17 were towed, and three finished: Chris Straub, John Amen and Jim Savattone, in that order. "The entire El Toro Association wishes to extend their deepest sympathies to the crew and families of Low Speed Chase and the San Francisco YC for the tragedy in the Farallones race," wrote John Pacholski.

Chris Nesbitt
Chris Nesbitt of Corona del Mar took first place in the Prince of Wales Bowl match race series after two days of racing. © 2018 Chris Ray /

St. Francis YC hosted the US Match Racing Area GHJL Quarter-Final #1 match races this weekend.

Russ Silvestri
Russ Silvestri and the StFYC Juniors, Antoine Screve, Romain Screve, Nolan Van Dine, came in second. © 2018 Chris Ray /

"A full round robin was sailed in strengthening breezes under bright and sunny skies," photographer Chris Ray commented about Saturday's racing.

Nicole Breault
Nicole Breault of San Francisco, the only female skipper, took third out of eight. © 2018 Chris Ray /

Adding to the full slate of local racing was the start, at 2 p.m. on Saturday off Golden Gate YC's race deck, of Clipper Round the World's Leg 7 to New York via the Panama Canal. 

Clipper Race start
Qingdao, New York, and De Lage Landen quickly cleared the bridge soon after their start. © 2018 Abner Kingman / onEdition

“The whole Bay Area looked picture postcard stunning in the crisp clean air and bright sunshine," observed Ben Bowley, skipper of Singapore. "Under the Bridge the conditions became really rather lumpy and confused with a large amount of residual swell that was threatening to turn into big surf even a couple of miles offshore. The fully-loaded boat took to her new classification of submarine very well. We punched straight through several waves that swept the boat from stem to stern with a ruthless, bubbling efficiency, leaving some of the new crew a little wide-eyed." Not surprisingly, the fleet reported bouts of seasickness during the first night at sea in the big northwesterly swell. Follow the Clipper Race here:

De Lage Landen west of the bridge
De Lage Landen in the big swell west of San Francisco. © 2018 Abner Kingman / onEdition

And a reminder that the Corinthian Race trophy meeting is tonight at Oakland YC, and it's starting a little earlier than usual — around 6:30 p.m. (give or take) — as it will be immediately followed (around 7:30 or so) by the Medical & Provisioning seminar for the Singlehanded TransPac, which is free and open to the public. See Monday's 'Lectronic for details.

- latitude / chris

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Ad: Plan Your Escape to the Virgin Islands

April 18, 2012 – Virgin Islands

Looking to escape to warm Caribbean waters? Online Cruising Guide is your source for Virgin Islands sailing and boating information: Not just pretty photos (although we have plenty) and generalizations about heavily traveled tourist spots. Instead we'll show you what each anchorage has to offer, with updated color charts to back it all up. The site is well laid out, informative, useful and, best of all, FREE. Everyone likes that part.

While there, check out charter specials from BVI Yacht Charters and Horizon, or sign up for a FREE Caribbean Charter from The Catamaran Company!

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Rutherford Closes Loop

April 18, 2012 – Chesapeake Bay

Matt Rutherford completed his circuit of North and South America this morning aboard his Albin Vega 27 St. Brendan. © 2018 Mark Duehmig

At 10:48 a.m. EDT this morning, Annapolis's Matt Rutherford crossed his outbound track, closing the loop on his record-setting nonstop solo circumnavigation of North and South America. The 31-year-old sailor set off from his hometown last June 11 aboard his Albin Vega 27 St. Brendan and has suffered through terrible weather — including nearly non-existent wind for the last couple days — broken gear, and bodily injury to reach his goal. His perseverance was, in part, to help a cause close to his heart: Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating. A party in his honor will be held this Saturday at noon at the National Sailing Hall of Fame dock in Annapolis, if you happen to be in the area, where Rutherford plans to step ashore for the first time in over 300 days. Congratulations to Matt on an amazing journey!

- latitude / ladonna

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What is It with Cruise Ships and Lights?

April 18, 2012 – Mexico and the Caribbean

We've been ocean sailing at night a bit lately, which has reminded us of one of our big grips — what's the deal with cruise ships and navigation lights? All the ones we've seen have been equipped with the proper navigation lights, yet on every one, the navigation lights have been all but overwhelmed by all the other lights on the ship. We don't care if it's the Orgasm on the Waves, the Floating Midnight Buffet, or the Naked at Sea, most of them appear as big rectangles of bright lights, on which the navigation lights can't be discerned.

As the sun goes down, the lights come on aboard cruise ships, making their nav lights all but invisible. © 2018 María del Rosario Mercedes Laura Jennifer Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza

Early the other evening we were going past Phillipsburg, Dutch Sint Maarten when, over the course of 45 minutes, no less than four large cruise ships departed the big facility there. Not only could we not immediately identify the port and starboard lights on any of them, it took us a long time to tell the bow from the stern on two of them. And yeah, we're clued in about bow range lights. And in the case of two cruise ships that passed within a mile of us, we never could make out the port and starboard lights.

We contrast this with another large ship that was coming into port from the west. Her range lights and port and starboard lights were brilliant against the night sky, and not overshadowed — if you can take the reverse pun — by the ship's other lights.

We know that most big vessels and ships are now required to be equipped with AIS, which allows all of them to know everything — name, length, course, speed, draft, hailing port, sexual orientation of the captain and first mate, etc — about each other. But shouldn't all mariners be entitled to know where these behemoths are headed? And we've had the same problem with cruise ships such as the Sombrero Princess and Azure Burrito off the coast of Baja during the Ha-Ha.

Have you had similar problems with cruise — or other — ship navigation lights,  or is this problem specific to just us? Email Richard with your thoughts.

- latitude / richard

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