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Weekend Racing Wrap-Up

April 28, 2014 – San Francisco Bay and Beyond

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Weather conditions for this year's Newport to Ensenada Race were windy but no records were broken. © 2018 Leslie Richter /

As the local sailing season officially got underway this weekend, it seemed that every San Francisco Bay sailor was out racing somewhere. From the Great Vallejo Race to the woodies on Berkeley's Olympic Circle to the tiny El Toros in the Bullship Race (see Christine Weaver's report that follows), sails could be seen everywhere throughout the region. Meanwhile, 500 miles to the south, the annual Newport to Ensenada race saw the highest winds ever in its 66-year history. 

Golden Moon
Kame Richards' Golden Moon, enjoying new breeze after a long-delayed start, went on to win the Express 37 division. Photo Latitude / Ross
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Saturday morning's start of the Great Vallejo Race began slowly. Racers drifted about for an hour as the first gun was delayed until 11 a.m. The first two fleets were then started before the stuttering breeze caused periodic postponements. By 1:35 p.m. the last of the fleets was finally sent off to Vallejo. At no time during the starting sequences did racers see breeze over five knots and it took the first fleet 35 minutes to reach the first mark. 

Eventually the wind settled in and racers in the 18 divisions found themselves in building conditions on a beat to Vallejo. Once in San Pablo Bay, racers saw up to 25 knots of wind. PRO Jeff Zarwell reports that Larry Levit's Express 27 Strega saw 17.5 knots of boat speed coming off a wave. The challenging breeze spread little overall havoc, although Nicholas Grebe's 5.5-meter Hobie Tiger Evil Octopus capsized three times and eventually had to be towed to Vallejo YC, and an-as-of-yet-unidentified female crewmember sailing on a keelboat needed to be taken to the hospital for stitches after a head injury.

After a hard-fought battle, Daniel Thielman's R/P 44 Tai Kuai won line honors on Saturday, followed closely by Gary Redelberger's Farr 36, Racer X and Randy Miller's Marstrom 32 Gradient VeeGradient Vee took line honors on Sunday's return race to the Richmond-San Rafael bridge. 

"Sunday's conditions brought milder wind, 15-17 knots, and flat seas, making the race home pleasurable, but uneventful," according to Zarwell. He later found himself assisting in the search for a downed airplane that had crashed after a mid-air collision with another aircraft near Pt. Pinole. Saturday's results can be found here. Sunday's preliminary results are here.

The WBRA races were run Saturday on the Olympic Circle. Bears, Birds, IODs, Folkboats and Knarrs sailed two races each. Complete results are online for race 1 and race 2.

Roy Disney's Andrews 70 Pyewacket enjoying fresh breeze. © 2018 Leslie Richter /

The big story in this year's Newport to Ensenada Race wasn't that big at all. A significant storm system had many thinking that records were going to be broken for the 125-mile race. All eyes were on the big trimarans: last year's winner, William Gibbs on his 52-foot catamaran Afterburner, Tom Siebel's MOD 70 Orion — the 2014 San Diego to Puerto Vallarta record breaker —  and H.E. Erloe's ORMA 60 Mighty Merloe. But seemingly out of the blue, Pete Melvin (of the well-known yacht design firm Morelli & Melvin) surprised many by winning best overall corrected time in his 28-foot catamaran Mama Tried. Tom Siebel won best elapsed time, skippering Orion. Despite wind speeds reaching 38 knots, no records were set.

H.E. Erloe's ORMA 60 Mighty Merloe had hopes of breaking a record. © 2018 Leslie Richter /

Look for more on all of these races in the June edition of Latitude 38

- latitude / ross

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

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See the current magazine here.

Golden Gate Bullship Race

April 28, 2014 – Sausalito to San Francisco, CA

This reporter enjoyed her maiden Bullship in a boat generously loaned by John Amen, but unfortunately took too long (almost an hour) to clear the Marin shore and so was told to turn back by the race committee. Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Saturday marked the 61st running of the Gran Concurso Barco-Toro, aka Bullship, the oldest race for El Toros. You may think of El Toros as trainers for kids, but the Bullship is strictly for grown-ups, as its route takes competitors from Sausalito's Trident Restaurant through San Francisco Bay's notorious Slot and across the mouth of the Golden Gate to the San Francisco Marina. Indeed, almost all of the 21 Bullship sailors this weekend were middle-aged – or older.

John Amen in red boat with ship
The camera's long lens made this ship appear much closer than it actually was to John Amen. Big wakes are a challenge in an El Toro though. © 2018 Richmond Yacht Club

Saturday morning's forecast was frightening – at least for maiden voyagers – with a prediction of 15-25 knots from the northwest: the right direction but the wrong wind strength for the 8-ft boats. But sometimes you just need to look up from your computer and check out the window instead. This was one of those times. What wind there was at the 9:00 start came out of the south – unfortunately, on the nose for the Bullship race. Also on the nose was the max flood current. So getting out of Sausalito was a tricky chore. Short-tacking up the shore for current relief was of utmost importance. Despite the flood, the eager racers had a general recall of their start.

Fred Paxton, Art Lange, John Pacholski
Fred Paxton leads Art Lange and John Pacholski along Sausalito's South Beach. Photo Latitude / Ross
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Once out in the Slot, the fleet hopped into water going in the right direction. Sometime after 10 a.m. enough of a westerly filled in to whip up white caps. Fred Paxton found the favorable current first and rode it to victory, his first in the Bullship. 'Gran Almiranta de la Regata' John Amen finished second. Chris Nash (#5) won the Clydesdale trophy for the first finisher weighing 200 pounds or more. John Liebenberg (#6) won the Viejo Trophy, and James Savattone (#8) the Woody Trophy. David Bacci (#9) was the first maiden voyager to finish, and Vickie Gilmour (#12) won the Sirena Award for the first (and only) female finisher. The 18th finisher, Christophe Caron, got the Tail-Ender award. See complete results at Defending champion Gordie Nash missed the race, opting instead for the Great Vallejo Race on his big boat. 

Buzz and fleet
Buzz Blackett (in the red jacket) finished fourth, after Chris Straub (not shown here) in third. Photo Latitude / Ross
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / chris

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Ad: Delta Ditch Run

April 28, 2014 – Richmond to Stockton, CA

Delta Ditch Run, May 31, 2014, RYC to SSC
Classes available for PHRF-rated monohulls and BAMA-rated multihulls, plus a Cruising Class with motoring allowance, a great way to begin your Delta Doo Dah vacation!
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Loving the Boat Yard & Freedom from Excessive Regulations

April 28, 2014 – La Cruz, Banderas Bay

Peter Vargas, center in blue hat, stands below Moonshadow with his Sea Tek team. The Deerfoot looks darn nice for a boat that did a 16-year circumnavigation under her previous owner. Photo Courtesy John Rogers
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Deb and I are proud of ourselves for finally following the Wanderer's advice," write John and Debbie Rogers of the San Diego-based Deerfoot 2-62 Moonshadow. "We're still smarting from ignoring the Wanderer's advice and leaving St. Barth too soon last winter. But since the Wanderer had Profligate hauled at the La Cruz Shipyard on Banderas Bay for a lot of work, and used the services of Peter Vargas and his Sea Tek team, we decided to do the same. We've never really enjoyed time in boatyards — who does? — but we were surprised to find that our two-month experience of refitting Moonshadow here was really great. We could live ashore inexpensively right on the beach while having the much-needed work done. We ended up becoming great friends with the whole Sea Tek crew, whom we found to be sincerely interested in giving us the best possible outcome. They did a great job.

"And the town of La Cruz has been wonderful. We especially like the way the beaches are free of the many regulations we're used to seeing at the beaches of our hometown of San Diego. On the beach in front of our temporary home in La Cruz, we frequently saw dogs running free, horses, cars, ATVs, dinghies, fishing pangas, parties with coolers full of beer, barbecues, bonfires, fireworks — and mostly people taking a break and having a good time relaxing. We haven't seen drunks, fights, arrests, cops, lawsuits or other forms of party-pooping interference. Here in La Cruz they've somehow figured out how to share a public beach without a lot of government ordinances. Although while in Chacala today, we saw the accompanying anti-pooping sign, which made us realize that even in Mexico you have to draw the line somewhere.

"We're heading up into the Sea of Cortez next week, and will be doing the Bash in late June. Any chance we'll see Profligate somewhere along the way?"

The Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca are glad you had a great experience with Peter and his crew at the La Cruz Shipyard. We also had a great experience, but we need to make it clear that we are Switzerland when it comes to boatyards, as there are many others in California and Mexico that do excellent work. One of the big factors in our hauling Profligate in La Cruz is that there are so few places — three — between Panama and the Napa Valley that can accommodate Profligate's 30-ft beam. But like you, we loved how much pride the Sea Tek team took in their work.

We're big on the smallest and least intrusive government possible, but we understand the need for some regulations. For example, we are not in favor of pit bulls and other potentially lethal dogs on populated beaches, as they are often used by subhumans to intimidate others who are simply trying to relax. Similarly, we are not in favor of cars or ATVs on popular beaches, as humans simply can't be trusted to abstain from recklessly showing off in front of people who don't want to see or hear them.

As for jet skis, proportionately the most deadly of all watercraft, we don't think they are regulated nearly enough, even though they are banned entirely in places such as Sayulita. There was a tragic jet-ski accident last Christmas between La Cruz and Bucerias, when a jet-ski instructor, showing off, hit a honeymooning young couple from Mexico City who were paddling along in an orange kayak minding their own business. The young woman was killed and the young man suffered serious injuries. About that same time, a woman from a cruise ship on a jet ski off Puerto Vallarta collided with her daughter on another jet ski, killing her. Happy holidays.

That said, we've spent a lot of time on the beaches of Banderas Bay, and despite the fact that there doesn't seem to be any regulation against drinking on the beach, we haven't seen one fight or need for police. It's overwhelmingly been regular Mexicans having a great time on the beach, not bothering anyone. We love watching the families and kids play in the water.

Seeing this makes us wonder if the sign makers in Mexico might have a couple of thousand extra signs like these that can be posted in downtown San Francisco and on the BART elevators. Photo Courtesy John Rogers
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Not to rub it in, but you really should have listened to us about St. Barth, as it's a fabulous sailing hotbed between early February and the first week in April. We've already had the Bucket and the Voiles. Today the first of the double-handed boats arrive from France, and early next week is the start of the West Indies Regatta for work boats. During this time span there have been other great regattas just a few miles away: The Heineken Regatta in 15-mile-distant St. Martin, and the Antigua Classic and Antigua Sailing Week in 80-miles-distant Antigua. All this, not to mention the great anchorages, the clear warm waters, or the women who walk like cats.

With the season here nearly over, we'll be returning to La Cruz to have Vargas and crew put on Profligate's hard-top. We hope to be bashing by late June, as we're eager to get north for the Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race in late July, the So Cal Ta-Ta in early September, the Little Ensenada Race in early October, and Baja Ha-Ha XXI in late October. So much sailing to do, so little time. But yeah, there's a good chance we'll see you on the Bash Bash.

- latitude / richard

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Ad: Sale Boat of the Day

April 28, 2014 – Wilmington, CA

44-ft Gulfstar Cruising Sloop

44' Gulfstar Ketch

© 2018 The Shoreline Yacht Group /

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The Shoreline Yacht Group
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