March 7, 2012

Sail a Small Boat Day Fun

A WETA tri was among the small boats available to try out on Saturday.

© Tracey Berntsen

Richmond YC’s annual Sail a Small Boat Day, held last Saturday, was by all accounts a tremendous success. Of course, Bay sailors will remember Saturday’s stunning weather — 70 degrees and a steady breeze. There couldn’t have been more perfect weather to introduce people to our favorite sport. The great conditions drew the crowds — the 50 or so small boats available for rides were used by as many as 200 people throughout the day!

A couple hundred people took advantage of Saturday’s beautiful weather to try out dozens of different small boats.

© Tracey Berntsen

"Many thanks to Richmond YC and its members for inviting us to Sail a Small Boat Day," said John Schulthess of Windtoys, the Bay Area’s Hobie dealer. "What a hoot! The kids loved the peddle, paddle and sailing kayas, as did a few adults who got in on the action. If you’ve never had a chance to see RYC’s youth in action, do it. You’ll be amazed at the sailing buzz. Yes, sailing is alive and well — even among the youth!"

Ad: Doublehanded Farallones Race

It’s time to make plans and prepare your crew and boat for BAMA’s 33rd Doublehanded Farallones Race on Saturday, March 31. Register by March 21 to avoid a late fee, review the sailing instructions for equipment requirements, then come to the skippers’ meeting on March 28 at Oakland YC. See for complete information, or email or call (650) 394-6343.

AC World Series Dates in Flux

Before you block vacation time or book flight reservations in order to watch the San Francisco edition of the America’s Cup World Series this summer, be aware that the tour dates are in a state of flux.

Even on flat water, AC 45 fleet racing is an adrenal gland tickler, even for spectators.

© Guilain Grenier / Oracle Racing

While no official announcement has yet been made, the AC website now states that the mid-August time slot originally allocated to San Francisco, will be given to either New York or San Francisco. In addition, dates for an October contest on San Francisco Bay are listed as TBC.

We don’t have the inside skinny on why the date changes are being made — or why this news is trickling out without an official announcement — but we can tell you that speculation among Cup afficionados includes the possibility that the AC Committee wants to overlap with the Bay’s annual Fleet Week, which draws huge crowds of sailors and non-sailors alike, and that New York weather demands a mid-summer calendar date. There’s no official word yet on the status of New York’s apparent bid to become an AC World Series host.

Weatherwise, October’s potentially milder winds and clearer skies might be a bonus for the Series — both in terms of TV visuals, and the AC 45s’ demonstrated tendancy to nose-dive in heavy wind-generated chop. In any case, we can’t wait for the fun to begin here on the Bay. We’ll keep you posted as dates are clarified.

Spring Crew List Party Tonight

Get to know new crewmembers over a cold beverage tonight at our Spring Crew List Party.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

One bad apple can spoil the bunch, and the same holds true for crewmembers. A very experienced and winning sailor recently shared that he gave up a long-time crew position because the skipper brought on a ‘bad apple’ that no one else could tolerate. If you’re planning to add a new crewmember to your sailing team, the best way to make sure everyone gels is to bring your current crew to tonight’s Spring Crew List Party at Golden Gate YC, and interview potential crewmembers as a team. Grab a handful of snacks (they’re free!), buy the new guy or gal a beer and get to know them a little. It’s a low-pressure, high-impact environment as scores of eager sailors will be looking for rides. Some want to race around the buoys, some want to race to Hawaii, but all just want to get out there sailing. You’d be hard pressed to find a higher concentration of enthusiasm and skill in one room on one night.

Don’t wait! Call Sal right away if you’d like to get a fish’s-eye-view of what it takes to get in a liferaft from the water.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The party runs from 6-9 p.m. (no early birds, please!) and still costs just $7 ($5 if your ID proves you’re under 25) and includes door prizes and free snacks to go with the no-host bar. As usual, Sal’s Inflatable Services will inflate a liferaft during the party, but if you’d like to find out what it’s really like to get in one from the water, call Sal right now at (510) 522-1824 to sign up for his in-the-water demo today, from 3:30-5 p.m. It costs just $39 and could be a real lifesaver. Please note that while the party is at Golden Gate YC, the in-the-water demo is at the St. Francis YC docks.

NorCal Sailing News from the Carib

When we reported Monday on the results of the 32nd annual Heineken Regatta, we announced that Rick Wesslund of Tiburon had won his class with the J/120 El Ocaso. What we didn’t know at the time is that he also won the trophy for the ‘Most Worthy Performance Overall’.

“This is our sixth year racing at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta,” Wesslund told the press. “We’ve won our division twice, but never this prize. I ultimately want to thank my great team for all their hard work over the years. We’ll be back!”

As there were some 200 entries in the Heineken, all we can say is well done, El Ocaso and crew, well done!

The El Ocaso crew won the coveted Most Worthy Performance Overall award.

© 2012 Heineken Regatta

We also just learned that Matt Brooks of the St. Francis YC, who also won his class in the Heineken, and would appear to be undertaking one of the bigger yacht campaigns in memory with his legendary 82-year-old S&S 52-ft Dorade, will be coming over to St. Barth next month for the Voiles de St. Barth. It’s going to be ‘let’s the good times roll’ at that regatta, as they have 70 entries so far between 30 to 80 feet. As for the parties, well, everyone is expecting them to be off the graph.

We don’t want anyone to confuse the Voiles de St. Barth with the St. Barth Bucket, a three-race series for 47 yachts of 100 to 220 feet in length that we think is the greatest spectacle in sailing. That takes place later this month. Race crews are being flown in from all over the world, and every room on the island and every reservation in every restaurant is taken. "It’s even bigger than New Years," says local party planner Melanie Smith, an authority on such matters.

With big boats come big problems. The girl next to us in the internet cafe is telling her mum in Australia — in a voice that can easily be heard throughout the internet cafe — that the big boat she is on broke the vang when crossing the Atlantic, and the manufacturer still hasn’t sent them a replacement. That wouldn’t be the end of the world if the owner weren’t a "short-tempered German" who not only dropped $83,000 on a new spinnaker, but is flying in a racing crew from Germany for the Bucket.

And then there is our Olson 30 La Gamelle, being brought to St. Barth by a syndicate in memory of the spirit of St. Barth as exemplified by the gone-but-not-forgotten La Gamelle restaurant, the departed "well-hung, low-riding" dog La Gamelle, and the memory of George Olson and the ultralight spirit of Santa Cruz. She’s currently on a Dockwise ship somewhere between Port Everglades and Martinique, and is expected to be offloaded in Martinique on Monday morning. Here’s where we need your help. It’s 250 miles from southern Martinique to St. Barth, and much of the first 100 miles of it is in the big lee of the tall islands of Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe. What we need to know is how far you can motor an Olson 30 with six gallons of fuel and a Honda 5-hp outboard.

We were hoping to find some crew at the Le Select Bar to help us sail the Olson here. In the beginning, there seemed to be a lot of interest. When people asked us if we had any photos of "the California boat," all we could show them are the accompanying two photos of the sistership Hoot. Subsequently all interest in joining us for the passage seemed to dissipate.

Such is life in the Caribbean

We’re not sure why these pansies in the Caribbean don’t think this looks like fun.

© 2012 Donald Hilbun
If you were to set sail from the West Coast and voyage around the world via the tropics, the largest patch of open water you’d have to face would be the first: the 3,000-mile crossing from the Coast to French Polynesia.