April 25, 2011

Ira of Bolinas Takes Antigua Classic

Ira aboard his much-loved Lone Fox, which was built in Scotland for Commander Whitbread in 1957.

Lone Fox
©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Sincere congratulations on three levels are due Ira Epstein of Bolinas, the owner of the 1962 Robert Clark-designed classic 65-ft wood ketch Lone Fox.

On the most basic level, Ira, who is in his early ’60s, is to be congratulated for maintaining a large wooden yacht, something that has entailed both a lot of expense and a never-ending amount of physical labor on his part.

Ira, who is one of the really good guys in sailing, is also to be congratulated for a winter of incredible perseverance. We’re not completely clear on the details, but during a charter in the Northeast last summer, the charterer apparently sailed the yacht onto a reef, got her off, and then motored her into the reef at such a speed that Lone Fox‘s keel had to be removed and recast. So instead of spending the winter in Lone Fox‘s traditional base of St. Barth, Ira was stuck at a yard in Camden, Maine, whose winter weather is not that different from the North Pole.

The 62-ft Lone Fox looking good as she bounds across the Caribbean Sea.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

After normal yard issues, insurance settlement issues, and getting the boat ready again issues, Ira was determined to get down to the Caribbean for the end of the season — even though it would mean sailing from Maine to the Caribbean in February. That’s as bad a month as you can pick for the trip, and many of his Caribbean friends hoped he wouldn’t try it. The first attempt went badly as, after a day or two at sea, there was a problem with the fuel system and they had to turn back. After more money and work, Ira and Lone Fox took off again. If we’re not mistaken, he had to stop in Bermuda to replace his crew. He found two new crew and, battered and beaten, they limped into Ira’s home base of St. Barth, having missed the St. Barth Bucket by two weeks and the Voiles de St. Barth by just a couple of days. In other words, after the season had all but ended.

We saw Ira on the dock, and he looked a little weary — but happy to be back in the tropics, where he expects to spend the summer and at least next winter. But he admitted that Lone Fox‘s off-season and shorthanded attempts to make it to the tropics had taken a toll, particularly on the yacht’s cosmetics. He was going to take about a day’s rest, then would have to rush 85 more miles upwind to Antigua for the famous Antigua Classic Regatta.

And here is where the story really brightens. The beaten and battered Ira and Lone Fox not only won their class in the Antigua Classic Regatta, they bloody won the Panerai Trophy for having the fastest cumulative elapsed time in the fleet of 65 classic yachts! And we want to make it clear, this was a fleet sprinkled with some of the greatest yachts in history, most of which are maintained with a ‘damn the expense’ attitude. Among them are the J Class yachts Ranger and Velsheda, the impeccable 180-ft Herreshoff schooner Elena, the Soros family’s 65-ft Nat Benjamin schooner Juno, both the Boleros — meaning the S&S 73 version from ’48 and the much more modern 105-ft Frers sloop from South Africa — Alert, the Rhodes ’63 that we believe was built at the Stone Yard and spent much of her time on the Bay, and not the least, the magnificent and monstrous dark-hulled Hoek 190 Marie.

Ira, you are the iron man with a wooden ship! We can’t wait to see you flashing your prize, the Panerai Radiomir Black Seal watch — although we know we’ll have to make you do it. We can’t recall a time when we were so happy to see somebody win such a prestigious event, and to be so deserving. By the way, if anybody is interested in chartering a great classic yacht for next year’s Antigua Classic Regatta, may we suggest checking out www.lonefoxcharters.com.

Elena, beautiful as she is, didn’t correct out over Lone Fox.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Nor did the 154-ft Frers Rebecca.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
And no, not even the great Hoek-designed 190-ft Marie was able to correct out on Lone Fox.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC


Taking a Nose Dive

From April 12-15, StFYC organized a training clinic for sailors planning to compete in the Laser Masters Worlds to be held on the Bay August 5-13. Coach Javier ‘Rulo’ Borojovich from the acclaimed Laser Training Center in Cabarete, Dominican Republic worked with 12 sailors in classic summer conditions on the Bay to get them ready for the regatta.

Christine Neville, who recently moved to the Bay Area from Vermont and now works at Pineapple Sails, was among the 12, though she’s not old enough to be considered a ‘master’. "I was just tagging along," she said of the event. "It was a good excuse to get more practice on the Cityfront in big breeze and big seas. I’m used to placid lake sailing." Christine says she’s looking forward to sailing more with the ‘masters’ during their training sessions throughout the summer. As for this last clinic, she says that while it was exhausting, it was "super fun and I learned a bunch — like to sit back in the boat when it’s windy!" Watch Christine learn that lesson the hard way: 

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Weekend Racing Wrap-up/Preview

OYRA President Andy Newell’s Santana 35 Ahi on the way back in from the Lightbucket on Saturday.

© Erik Simonson

The Easter Bunny won out over the racing schedule this weekend, and the only big thing going on was the OYRA season opener, the Crewed Lightship #1. The results haven’t gone up yet but they should in short order. It looked like a very civilized affair, and these photos from Erik Simonson bear that out.

John Liebenberg’s Antrim 27 Always Friday breaks loose under the Gate.

© Erik Simonson

We don’t have many details, so instead we’ll change our focus to the coming weekend and Saturday’s 112th running of the oldest inland yacht race in America, the Great Vallejo Race. Serving as the YRA season opener and first installment of the wildly popular Party Circuit, the race is one of the linchpins of the Bay’s racing calendar.

Ray Minehan’s SC 50 Emily Carr.

© Erik Simonson

The Vallejo YC has undertaken some big changes for this year’s event in an effort to bolster the entertainment value. The club’s Jim Glenn updated us on those in this month’s Racing Sheet. In case you missed it, this what he had to say:  "We are changing things up this year and having part of the party outside in a large 40’x 80’ enclosed tent. The dance floor, music and food will be out in the tent. We have Eric Stone as the headliner from 8 p.m. until midnight and will have a disc jockey from 4 p.m. until Stone goes on. We have three different food vendors this year — Gracie’s Barbecue (ribs & chicken) Nellie’s Oysters (barbecued oysters, seafood tacos), and La Prima Pizza (woodfired pizza, pasta and salads). There will be grandstands at the start/finish line so spectators can see the racers as they jockey for the finish on Saturday and the start on Sunday. Beer & liquor will be reasonably priced, starting at $2. Sunday we will have a pancake breakfast put on by the Mare Island Rowing Cub."

Richard vonEhrenkrook and Paul Sutchek open up a Can O’Whoopass.

© Erik Simonson

So, in the event you needed any additional enticement, there you go: $2 beers and pancakes for anti-venom! All the pertinent info is in the gray box on the YRA homepage. You have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to enter — with an additional $35 late fee — so if you’ve been laggging, it’s time to get going and throw your (boat’s) name in the ring.

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