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June 23, 2008

Summer Sailstice a Really Big Show

The Vallejo Race has long been touted as the largest race on the Bay, and one of the largest inland races in the nation. But in terms of number of participants, it’s no longer the biggest boating event. That title was usurped this last weekend when an estimated 400 yachts and 2,000 people took part in Summer Sailstice festivities at Treasure Island.

“I’ve never seen so many boats in Clipper Cove before,” said one show-goer. Neither have we.

latitude/John A.
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

This is the 8th year for Summer Sailstice — the global celebration of sailing on the weekend closest to the summer solstice — and the third year for Treasure Island to host the main local celebration. All you really had to do to take part was just go sailing somewhere in the world Saturday or Sunday. But many yacht clubs, fleets and racing organizations have integrated Sailstice into local races, cruise-ins, raft-ups and so on — in the Bay, across the nation and around the world.

Besides all the sailors, a unique aspect of Sailstice at Treasure Island was how many non-sailors it attracted. With free admission, it was hard to get accurate stats, but organizers we talked to estimated that about a quarter of those who showed up were new to the sport. This is a big increase compared to how many new people attend boat shows. The estimate was corroborated by several brokers who had new yachts open for inspection. They reported that a number of folks admitted it was the first time they had ever been aboard a yacht.

Optis joined Lasers, Vanguard 15s and other dinghy fleets in holding several races over the weekend.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

But the shoreside activities were a big attraction of the weekend. There were five musical groups performing at various times, a boat building competition, a highly entertaining pirate lookalike fellow named Captain Jack Spareribs, and plenty of food and drink (portions of all concessions went to TISC’s community outreach programs). On the water, some 80-85 boats crowded into little Clipper Cove to drop anchor or raft up. YRA’s handicap, one-design and wooden boat fleets all used the weekend for ‘counter’ races in their seasons, and upwards of 125 dinghies — Lasers, V-15s, Optis and others — held races in (or just adjacent to) the Cove.

“Everybody we saw, sailors and non-sailors, was happy to be there — including us,” said Dave Moore of Cruising Yachts. “It  was a great day, a nice, relaxed atmosphere and a terrific crowd. I think this event is one of the best things to happen to sailing in a long time.”

Tahiti Race Start Socked In

Medicine Man ducks behind Magnitude 80 in the fog off Pt. Fermin during Sunday’s start of the 13th Tahiti Race.

© Rich Roberts

Instead of a sunny, glorious day befitting the momentousness of the occasion, the four starters in the 13th Tahiti Race were treated to fog and lots of it off Pt. Fermin on Sunday. After a 14-year hiatus, the 3,571-mile slide across the equator to the South Pacific was resurrected this year. Due to their widely varying speed potential, all four boats — Doug Baker’s Andrews 80 Magnitude 80, Bob Lane’s Andrews 63 Medicine Man, Chris Welsh’s classic Spencer 65 Ragtime, and Jim Morgan’s Santa Cruz 50 Fortaleza — will likely not be racing each other as much as they’ll be racing the course record of 14 days, 21 hours set by the late Fred Kirschner’s SC 70 Kathmandu in the last running of the race in 1994.

For many of the sailors, this will be their first equatorial crossing, and the ceremonial visit from King Neptune is expected to provide an unwelcome reward for what’s looking like a doldrums crossing of nearly 300 miles. The odds-on favorite for line honors is Magnitude 80 followed by Medicine Man and Ragtime. All are projected to break the record, and even Fortaleza, if conditions improve somewhat, could do likewise.

Death on the Delta

Ten men, aged 18 to 43, piled into a 14-ft aluminum fishing boat in Tracy for some fun on the Delta on Sunday. Instead, the overloaded boat capsized and only six men made it to shore. The other four are missing and presumed drowned. None of the men were wearing lifejackets and several of them reportedly could not swim. The 43-year-old owner of the boat was arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated and could face vehicular manslaughter charges.

Teapot Tony to Join the Swinging Sixties

Happy Birthday, and welcome to the Sixties!

© 2008 Ronnie ‘Tea Lady’

Ronnie ‘Tea Lady’ of Banderas Bay is putting out a call to all friends and clients, old and new, to send her husband, Teapot Tony, a happy birthday, by email or otherwise, by June 26.

"The ‘diesel guru’ is going to be a sprightly 60 years young," she writes, "and fully intends squeezing himself into your mega small engine spaces for some time to come. So I’m hoping for 60 emails to commemorate the occasion. If you’re in Banderas Bay, come along to the birthday bash that night at Philo’s — whose birthday it also is, but he is ageless — in La Cruz. Live music and lots of stupidity guaranteed!"

We normally don’t do birthday announcements, of course, but we’ve made an exception for Ronnie, who has done so much great work for the sailing support charities on Banderas Bay, such as the Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run for Charity.