Since its inception, San Francisco has been a destination for people in search of gold. This past weekend, two Bay Area sailors once again added gold-level performances to their already impressive sailing resumes.
Mike Martin and crew Adam Lowry ran away with the 5O5 North Americans, besting a fleet of 23 boats in classic Bay conditions. After their throwouts, the duo posted all bullets in a fleet that included seven prior world champions. The Thursday-through-Sunday event consisted of 11 races in a mix of conditions, including the long-distance Ronstan Bridge to Bridge and the usual blustery, summer Cityfront upwind legs in a flood. Those are conditions for a two-person, trapeze dinghy that planes upwind and that, beyond sailing challenges, creates a fitness and stamina test for all competitors.
"Current was a big factor," said Lowry, who cited a slight home field advantage. "It’s true of all of us who are part of the St. Francis team that when the current gets crazy, you know how to figure it into your tactics." Howie Hamlin from Southern California, a prior world champion with Mike Martin as crew, was very happy to take second, saying, "It’s never felt better to finish second. These guys are the best and no one was even near them." Ted Conrads and Jeffrey Nelson from Donner Lake took third.
Across the globe in Denmark, World Sailing hosted the Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus 2018 as a qualifier for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Though kiteboarding will not be included in the next Olympics, the class was still invited to compete. The Bay Area’s Daniela Moroz took yet another gold medal on her foiling kiteboard. Like Mike Martin, her score after throwouts showed straight bullets and — in fact, Daniela’s three throwouts in 16 races included one more first thrown in for good measure.
With the addition of US Sailing’s FAST USA Center (Facility for Advanced Sailing and Technology) now moving onto Treasure Island to provide a permanent home for Olympic aspirants, the Bay Area is destined to continue its legacy of producing world-class sailors and participate in the ongoing quest for gold.
Yesterday, we were amazed, delighted and encouraged to see people lining up for Cal Sailing Club’s open house.
The open houses are an almost monthly Sunday event — the next ones are on September 16, October 14 and November 11. We’ll bring you more from the amazing work done by the CSC and its army of enthusiastic volunteers.
On Friday, we posted a letter asking what sailors should do with their old flares. The Latitude Nation responded in a big way, but we’ve found that there are no easy answers. Many of you said that some fire departments may take flares, and some of you have had luck with this. We made a few calls to a few Marin County fire departments this morning, all of whom said that they do not accept old marine flares. Many of you said that most HAZMAT sites also do not accept flares, which is true of our local household hazardous waste facility.
One of our readers summed up the problem: "The Coast Guard told us to take them to the Fire Department. The Fire Department told us to take them to the Hazardous Materials Recycling Center," wrote Marty, reflecting a run-around that many of you mentioned. "The Hazardous Materials Recycling Center said they won’t take explosives. We tried to donate them to sail/boating instruction groups, plus the Sea Scouts, who all stated they had more than enough for their training. The chandleries that sell the flares don’t have an answer. [Chandleries] are happy to replace my combustible flares with electronic flares . . . leaving us still with the problem of old flares.
"A uniform, 50-state solution needs to be achieved. That sounds to me like a job for the US Coast Guard. Perhaps a USCG/USCG Auxiliary partnership of accepting the expired flares from boaters during annual inspections would help boater safety preparation, compliance with boating-related laws and regulations, and provide boaters with a safe means to get rid of expired combustible signaling devices. The local USCG Auxiliary could contract for safe local destruction. We could pay a nominal fee ($5.00?) to assist with the cost of this service. Just an idea . . ."
Locally, reader Ralph Greenwood said he’s had better luck at police departments. At the Novato PD, he’s managed to dispose of his parachute, 12 gauge and handheld flares. "The Novato Fire Department told me they can’t take them, but that I should just soak them in a bucket of water then throw away."
Another common solution we heard for old flares was simply to fire them off. "The Nawiliwili Yacht Club and Kauai Sailing Association are having a Coast Guard-approved flare day and inviting boaters to bring their expired flares to ‘practice’ with and dispose of them," wrote Jim Saylor of the Olson 30 Fast Company from Kauai.
"We had a Coast Guard-approved flare shoot for mariners several years ago," wrote Ron Hodel of the Catalina 320 Lokomaikai’ from Dana Point. "Every one of my old flares that I brought to the shoot fired off, some of them 15 years out of date. I hang onto my old ones in a container separate from my in-date flares. I’ve never needed to fire off a flare in an emergency, but if I ever have to, I’d sure like to have a good number of them."
Many of you asked why there isn’t a better system for recycling old flares in place, especially by vendors. "We pay a recycling fee when we buy tires and batteries. Why not a recycling fee when we buy flares?" asked David Orban of the Beneteau 42cc Kokua. "Return old flares to the point of purchase for disposal. I, like many boaters, have expired flares accumulating on the boat because there is no way to dispose of them. This can’t be safe."
Thanks to everyone who wrote in. We will have more of your responses in an upcoming edition of Letters, and we’ll see if we can’t help facilitate a longer-term, uniform solution to this flare quagmire.