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June 20, 2018

Get Ready for the Trans-Tahoe Regatta

Lake Tahoe’s biggest regatta hits the water this weekend for two days of alpine racing. The Trans-Tahoe regatta will feature several PHRF divisions "starting Friday, June 22 with afternoon buoy races followed by the long-distance race on Saturday, June 23 with a new competitive race course," the Tahoe Yacht Club said.

What can be better than competitive sailboat racing with snow-capped mountains in the background?

© Tahoe Yacht Club

First held in 1963, the Trans-Tahoe regatta is the lake’s biggest sailing event, taking a lap across the 21-mile-long, 11-mile-wide body of water that crosses state lines (it’s also the largest alpine lake in the United States, and second-largest in the world for those of you building your trivia knowledge.)

If you’re interested in registering, go to the Tahoe Yacht Club’s website. "The Tahoe City Marina is providing haul in/out and mooring packages to make it an easy one stop shop to launch your boat," TYC said. "To arrange a package, please contact Andrew Casci at the Tahoe Yacht Club, or call (530) 581-4700. There is also a very nice boat ramp next to the Coast Guard station in Lake Forest, you can find out more information at the TCPUD website."

Lake Tahoe — seen here at the end of March — is serene and completely void of boats in the winter. But in the summer, it’s a high-altitude sailing paradise.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We’ll have more on the regatta — and Tahoe in general — in an upcoming feature in the July issue of Latitude.

Do You Know this Boat?

Anyone know what boat this might be?

A mystery boat in need of an expert eye to identify her.

© 2018 Unknown

This photo hung in my father’s home office for years. It was taken during a race off Newport Beach sometime in the ’50s or early ’60s. He liked it because he’s on the boat to the far left, Alex Irving’s Sparkle. When I asked him many years later about the boat in the foreground, he didn’t remember what it was.

My father is long gone, but I still have this photo, and I still wonder about that pretty, big (45-50ft?) boat. If anyone knows her name, and if she’s still around, please let me know. And for ‘extra credit’ — why in the world did she have two forward hatches?

Iris Comes Down the Coast

"I’ve been intrigued with singlehanded distance races since reading about Chichester winning the first modern-day Transatlantic race in 1960," says John Colby of Portland, Oregon. "Then several years ago my crew and I mutually parted ways on Cocos Keeling Island in the Indian Ocean — no place to recruit new crew. So I sailed the next 2,000-mile leg alone and enjoyed the challenge after spending a week getting my head around the idea."

John Colby, age 70, is one of two Oregonians in the 2018 Singlehanded TransPac fleet.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

John has tons of offshore experience. "We sailed our 27-ft Vega to Hawaii in 1982; my youngest daughter Carol had her fourth birthday in Hanalei Bay. We made coastal trips since then until 2006-2013, when we circumnavigated." The circumnavigation was in the Hylas 42, Iris, not the Vega.

Iris can carry lots of friends, but they won’t be aboard when the 1987 Hylas 42 departs San Francisco Bay on Saturday.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In the past two years, he did two Oregon Offshore races, which start at the mouth of the Columbia River and finish at Victoria, and one Swiftsure. Now he’s signed up for the Singlehanded TransPac, which will start this Saturday off the deck of Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon. The race will finish in Hanalei Bay, on the north shore of the Garden Isle of Kauai.

John’s strategy for the race is simple: Get offshore the first night before the coastal wind dies, leave the Pacific High to starboard, and keep moving.

He’s trying not to over-provision. "We always seemed to have a ton of extra food while cruising. Then it didn’t matter. I’ll take Starbucks coffee for my French press and Costco prunes. I’d like to make a couple of meals of spaghetti before we start and refrigerate them for the first couple of dinners. I lightened the boat by taking off my wife’s books, collectible rocks and shells, some of her clothing, 238 feet of 12-mm chain and a couple of doors — I left the head doors intact.

"It is said, ‘You dance with the one who brought you.’ And Iris has safely taken me 45,000 miles. This race is noted for participants using the boats they own and not going out and spending tons on the latest race boat. Iris is fast to weather, average speed off the wind, is pretty and paid for. Unfortunately, this race is off the wind." John bets Iris is the only boat in the fleet with keel coolers protruding for refrigeration.

But before he could make the startline in San Francisco Bay, John had to bring Iris down the coast from Portland. With a crew of three, he left the dock of Portland YC on the evening of June 5, motored two hours, and docked at the club’s Outstation for the night, then really got under way the next morning at first light. 

Portland YC’s ‘Outstation’ is two hours down the Columbia River from the yacht club.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"The trip down from Portland was routine until the engine quit," John reports. "And there was no wind and none in sight. One expects a nice northwesterly going south. But the forecasters were right. We had a forecast of light southwesterlies with a threat of strong southerlies until Cape Blanco on the Southern Oregon Coast. So we hurried on, not stopping in Astoria for fuel.

"The tank went dry just across the border. The second tank lasted until we were past Cape Mendocino. Now for the jerry cans. We decided to go into Noyo River by Fort Bragg. There the entrance seemed to be so narrow one could navigate by stretching one’s arms out to either side, and if your fingers touched you were too close to shore. Of course we entered after dark." This was at 11 p.m. on Friday, June 8.

On a fog-shrouded morning, a local Coast Guard crew assists a sailboat into the Noyo River in Fort Bragg. (This is not Iris.)

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In the morning they learned that there was no fuel on the river, but the harbor is just on the southern edge of Fort Bragg. "Some fishermen were going to town and took one of us on the first trip with the jerry cans. Hitchhiking with jerry cans was easy, especially with our woman crew along. We were out of there by 11 a.m. and sailed all the way to the shore side of the Potato Patch. We had more than 30 knots of wind rounding Point Reyes." They passed under the Golden Gate Bridge at 4 a.m. on Sunday, June 10, and docked in Brisbane at 6 a.m.

To read about the rest of the 21 Singlehanded TransPac skippers, see our profiles in the June issue of Latitude 38. To learn more about the race, go to

Celebrate Sailing

Tomorrow’s summer solstice (June 21) marks the official start to summer and, for most people around the world, the start of the most active sailing season. Yes, California is a little different. A 12-month season and foggy, cool, breezy days on the Bay mean some prefer other times of year. Many never stop. But summer has more daylight, lighter work schedules and school vacations, making it an ideal time for more sailing.

Grab some friends, hoist the sails, have a laugh. What better way to spend a weekend in the Bay Area? Or anywhere?

©2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

This weekend also marks the 18th annual Summer Sailstice celebration of sailing. Individuals and organizations up and down the coast and across the country start the summer by signing up and sharing where and how they plan to sail this weekend, while also having a shot at prizes supplied by marine industry favorites.

Are your upcoming weekend sailing plans on the map? 

Summer Sailstice
©2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Bay Area hosts a dozen or so events, including an all-day celebration at Encinal Yacht Club, inviting sailors to arrive by sailboat or come over after their Saturday sail. The EYC event in Alameda includes small-boat racing, all-day entertainment, free sailboat rides for the uninitiated, and Gosling’s Dark ‘N Stormies. Check out other Bay Area events here.

Contestants in the cardboard boatbuilding contest build, launch, and race their boats as part of the day’s activities.

©2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The simple but audacious idea is to have the whole world signed up and sailing on the first summer weekend. If not sailing now, when? Sure, some think that a wedding or graduation is an acceptable alternative, but, really, these don’t take all weekend, and, after all, there are only so many summer weekends. If you’re racing to Half Moon Bay this weekend with the OYRA or setting off on the 2018 Singlehanded TransPac you can share your sailing story as part of Summer Sailstice. 

Beyond uniting the sailing world, one purpose of Summer Sailstice is myth busting. Really, we’re not all Larry Ellison. You can argue that sailing is expensive, but the vast majority of sailors don’t even own a sailboat — they crew. Most sailboats are under 20 feet. Most sailors probably started on something like a Sunfish, and, for many, that’s all they want. If you take friends sailing this weekend they may decide it’s expensive — for you but not for them! Sailing is one of the very best reasons to live near the water, and Summer Sailstice helps us share it with our shorebound friends. 

One owner, lots of crew. Sailing’s actually amazingly affordable for most sailors. Not as true for big boat owners!

©2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Bay Area weekend forecast looks ideal; the sun sets at 8:35; and thousands of sailboats are tugging at their docklines, calling out for a sail. There’s also the walk-the-dock-and-take-a- tour option offered by the Master Mariners’ annual Wooden Boat Show at Corinthian YC in Tiburon on Sunday, June 24. Head down and soak in the beauty and inspiration of sailing.

Be inspired by the cutter Water Witch, on display at the Master Mariners Wooden Boat show. 

©2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

This weekend, no sail should remain furled. See you on the water.

Friday’s Lipton Cup race finished at the RYC breakwater. An extra bit of south in the stiff breeze made the spinnaker drop particularly challenging.
Two days into the wild and crazy Race to Alaska, Russell Brown’s Gougeon 32 PT Watercraft is already looking like the boat to beat.
The Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay’s series of seminars and socials will continue on Thursday, June 28, when Kame Richards and Seadon Wijsen will facilitate a roundtable discussion on Racing Tactics.