Sailing and Baseball
As spring arrives and America’s favorite pastime is in full swing (pun intended), the Bay Area is preparing for the arrival of the foiling cats — and we don’t mean some mischievous felines that are playing with a roll of aluminum foil. Excitement is ramping up for SailGP, and the San Francisco Giants are getting in on the action.
“All eyes will turn to San Francisco as the City by the Bay will host the second [SailGP] event on May 4-5,” read a post by Major League Baseball. “Giants Enterprises, the entrepreneurial arm of the San Francisco Giants, are partnering with SailGP to direct regional promotion and marketing efforts. The United States SailGP Team will take on five other national teams in a thrilling series of races just off the Marina Yacht Club Peninsula, located in the heart of San Francisco Bay between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.”
Propelling sailing into the mainstream of professional sports was one of Larry Ellison’s goals when the America’s Cup was in San Francisco in 2013. We have to admit, having baseball promote sailing makes us feel as if the sport has . . . arrived in some way . . . we’re not sure how, and we’re not sure what it all means.
Do you, as a sailor, feel validated that this thing you’ve been obsessed with your whole life finally has mainstream recognition? Or are you wary, and even a little despondent, that your secret world is being exposed?
There is no shortage of hyperbole from the major league media machine: “Racing on the Bay will be pure adrenaline. Strong sea breezes and tidal flows will challenge some of the world’s best athletes to the limits of their abilities. Expect the spectacular.”
Oh, we will.
Scenes from a Boat Show
In case we haven’t told you . . . in case you didn’t know . . . in case you’ve been aggressively avoiding ‘Lectronic Latitude the last few weeks . . . the Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show is currently in full swing at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond.
Boat Show or no Boat Show, don’t forget about the Golden Tickets in the magazine:
We hope you’ll come see us at the Latitude booth. We’re also having a little shindig tonight . . .
A Bit of Trivia
The painting below was featured in the office of a character on a popular TV show that ran from the late ’90s and into the aughts. The painting, by the way, is titled Mouth of the Delaware by Thomas Birch.
Can you name the show? There’s a T-shirt in it for you.
“People who do not know that a sailboat is a living creature will never understand anything about boats and the sea.” — Bernard Moitessier, The Long Way
Every now and then, readers send us photos of unconventional, custom-built vessels.
These boats don’t just break the mold, they redefine it altogether.
Sometimes, home builds can cross a line — or rather, the builder and sailor does something that causes the community to take pause and say, “Hey . . .”
We live be the phrase, “Whatever floats your boat.” If you’re seaworthy, safe, and a good dockmate, then we consider you part of the Latitude Nation. We do not judge, we only celebrate innovation and outside-the-box thinking. On Monday, we’ll bring you news of an exciting, mold-redefining project with a serious Bay Area pedigree.
For now, we’re wondering — as we always do — what kind of unconventional craft you’ve encountered over the years. Please send the pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment below.
Monday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude rolled out the beer can season, which ramps up in a big way this month. Back in medieval times, Latitude 38’s late great racing editor, Rob Moore, penned the Ten Commandments of Beer Can Racing. They bear repeating every few years, and this is as good a time as any. Pardon the anachronisms; this is posted as Rob wrote it way back in the previous millennium.
1) Thou shalt not take anything other than safety too seriously. If you can only remember one commandment, this is the one. Relax, have fun, and keep it light. Late to the start? So what. Over early? Big deal. No instructions? Improvise. Too windy? Quit. Not enough wind? Break out the beer. The point is to have fun, but stay safe. Like the ad says, “Safe boating is no accident.”
2) Thou shalt honor the racing rules if thou knowest them. The current US Sailing Racing Rules, unless specifically stated elsewhere in the Sailing Instructions, is the rules bible. Few sailors we know have actually studied it cover to cover: It’s about as interesting as reading tax code or the phone book. For beer can racing, just remember some of the biggies (port tack boats shall avoid starboard ones; windward boats shall avoid leeward ones; and outside boats shall give room at the mark). Stay out of the way of bigger boats, pay your insurance premiums, and keep a low profile unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing. Like most things, it boils down to common sense.
3) Thou shalt not run out of beer. Beer (a.k.a., brewskis, chill pills, thought cylinders) is the beverage that lends its name to ‘beer can’ racing; obviously, you don’t want to run out of the frothy nectar. Of course, you can drink whatever you want out there, but there’s a reason these things aren’t called milk bottle races, Coca-Cola can races, hot chocolate races or something else. Just why beer is so closely associated with this kind of racing escapes us at the moment, but it’s a tradition we’re happy to go along with.
4) Thou shalt not covet thy competitor’s boat, sails, equipment, crew or PHRF rating. No excuses or whining; if you’re lucky enough to have a sailboat, just go use it! You don’t need the latest in zircon-encrusted widgetry or unobtanium sailcloth to have a great time out on the water with your friends. Even if your boat’s a heaving pig, make modest goals and work toward improving on them from week to week. Or don’t — it’s only beer can racing.
5) Thou shalt not amp out. No screaming, swearing, or overly aggressive tactics. Save that stuff for the office or, if you must, for Saturday’s ‘real’ race. If you lose it in a Friday nighter, you’re going to run out of crew — not to mention friends — in a big hurry. Downing a quick chill pill on the way to the starting line has been medically proven to have a calming influence on the nerves.
6) Thou shalt not protest thy neighbor. This is extremely tacky at this level of competition and should be avoided at all costs. Perhaps it’s justifiable if one’s boat is damaged and blame needs to be established, but on the whole, tossing a red flag is the height of bad taste in something as relatively inconsequential as a beer canner. Besides proving that you’re unclear on the concept of beer can racing, it screws up everybody’s evening, including yours. Don’t do it — it’s bad karma.
7) Thou shalt not mess up thy boat. Everybody knows some hardcore weekend warrior who ripped his sails up in a Friday night race and had to sit out the champion-ship race on Saturday. The point is that it’s not worth risking your boat and gear in such casual competition: like the song says, you got to know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em. Avoid other boats at all costs, not to mention buoys and other hard objects. If you have the luxury of two sets of sails, use the old ones.
8) Thou shalt always go to the yacht club afterwards. Part of the gestalt of beer can races is bellying up to the yacht club bar after the race. Etiquette demands that you congratulate the winners, as well as buy a round of drinks for your crew. Besides, the bar is a logical place to see old friends and make new ones. However, when meeting new sailors, avoid the gung-ho, overly serious types who rehash the evening in such gory detail that the post mortem (yawn) takes longer than the race. As much as we enjoy a quick romp around the cans, there’s more to life.
9) Thou shalt bring thy spouse, kids, friends and whoever else wants to go. Twilight races are great forums for introducing new folks to sailing, such as your neighbors, out-of-town visitors, co-workers or maybe even the family dog. Always bring your significant other along, too — coed crews are happy crews. And don’t just make the newcomers watch — give them a job on the boat. Get everyone involved.
10) Thou shalt not worry; thou shalt be happy. Leave the cell phone in the car, bring the ghetto blaster. Lighten up, it’s not the Big Boat Series. Have fun, and we’ll see you out there!
To find a beer can race near you (assuming you’re somewhere in Northern California!), see our Calendar.