Most of the world’s grand-prix offshore race boats spend their time in the Atlantic basin or circling the globe well south of the Pacific coastline. However, in a well-orchestrated harmonic convergence, three 70-ft trimarans, the MOD70s Powerplay and Argo and the Multi 70 Maserati, have been tuning up on the Bay getting ready for tomorrow’s 12:55 start in California Offshore Race Week’s CA 500 — a new 500-mile ‘sprint’ from San Francisco to San Diego. It’s a sprint if you’re planning to sail most of it at 30+ knots.
Maserati has been around the world since she last visited the Bay in June 2017. Argo and Maserati last faced off in the Caribbean 600. Just 48 hours ahead of the start, Argo was overcome by a gust and flipped. But the team managed to right her, repair her, and make the start! These oceangoing 70-footers travel the world easily. Despite their thousands of high-speed miles, they are rugged yet delicate. Rugged enough to take severe punishment when clocking 30+ knots in ocean swells. Delicate when maximizing speed balanced with control while maneuvering on a bumpy ocean.
On Saturday we sailed aboard the schooner Seaward as part of the Master Mariners Regatta while Maserati and Powerplay strutted their stuff on a busy Memorial Day weekend. We had raced against the owner of Powerplay, Peter Cunningham, aboard J/29s in the ’80s. So we reached out to him to see if we might grab a coffee and learn a little more about the path of sailing a J/29 to a MOD70. Always enthusiastic, Cunningham said, “Come for a sail.” So we did.
On Tuesday afternoon, the team swapped out the delivery sails, which had brought the boat to San Francisco from Grenada, for racing sails. This process included getting in close to the limited Tiburon wind shadow, then backing the boat down in full reverse to reduce apparent wind, allowing the crew to hoist the four headsails on furlers. Once the headsails were all in place, we zipped up through Raccoon Strait and headed for the Cityfront, where we rendezvoused with photographer Abner Kingman. He had the challenging task of taking photos in windy, choppy seas while trying to keep up with a catamaran going 20-35 knots.
The video below features just a couple of minutes of an afternoon spent burning up the Bay between Alcatraz and Point Bonita. This segment shows a high-speed reach from the North Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge to near Pier 39. What is normally an hour of sailing for us aboard our Ranger 33 Summer Sailstice probably took 10 minutes. We spent most of the reach sailing at more than 30 knots, with a top speed of about 37.
We anticipated being a bit terrified by the power and speed. It didn’t take long to realize that boat captain Charlie Ogletree and a very seasoned crew of professionals had everything under control. (Ogletree has been running Tom Siebel’s MOD70 Orion and his other boats.) The choreography of tacking a 70-ft x 55-ft multihull is intricate. Lots of clutches, hydraulics, links, travelers, winches and other adjusters smoothly link the coffee grinders to the powerful headsails rattling overhead. Upwind you roar along at 18-22 knots over big seas out the Gate, slow to a crawl during the tack, then sheet in and roar off in the other direction.
All three boats will line up to start tomorrow at about 1 p.m. off the Cityfront. If you have a way to get to the center span of the Golden Gate Bridge or up to the Marin Headlands, you’ll have fun watching them start their 500-mile battle. Given their speeds, they won’t be in view for long. But, the rarity of collecting this type of grand-prix offshore multihull on the West Coast could make it a worthwhile lunch break.
The California Offshore Race Week website previewed the expected weather: “During the first 12 hours of the race, weather forecasts show 25 knots of NW wind, with gusts up to 30 knots, and rough sea. It will be difficult for Maserati Multi 70 to fly steadily. Closer to the finish line, in the last 100 miles, the wind will drop abruptly. But at the moment the forecasts vary. The European models indicate a wind between 3 and 4 knots, whereas the American models are more optimistic.”
In addition to the three trimarans, the CA 500 has one outlier. Christian Doegl’s Swan 461 Free from Inverness YC will use the race as a training run for the Transpac.
We’ll get back to how Cunningham went from racing J/29s on San Francisco Bay to challenging race courses and oceans across the planet another time. However, it’s apparent that the excitement and enthusiasm of sailboat racing continues to inspire an inspiring sailor. The new CA 500 race track appears to be a perfect homecoming for Cunningham’s expanded portfolio of racing.
It’s all up to you.
The SoCal Ta-Ta (aka ‘Reggae Pon Da Ocean’) is a week-long ‘lite’ version of the Baja Ha-Ha that we’ve run four times before with anywhere from 20 to 40 boats. A lot of sailors, including a number of repeat participants, are asking if we’ll be doing one again this year. Indeed, there is already a group of five skippers from Long Beach who say they are itching to sign up.
We, meaning the Grand Poobah and Doña de Mallorca, will be doing the course again no matter what because it’s such a great one. If there is enough interest, which we classify as 30 paid entries, we’ll be happy to put it together as an official event.
The possible dates are either September 8 to the 14, or September 15 to 21.
The event would start in beautiful Santa Barbara, where, in the past, we’ve been able to get berth reservations for everyone in the fleet. We’d have a kick-off dinner and swag distribution either on the beach at the Santa Barbara YC or at a local restaurant.
On Monday morning we’d sail across the Channel to an anchorage at Santa Cruz Island, where we would spend both Monday and Tuesday night. It’s a lovely island with great beachcombing and hiking. There would also be sundowner gatherings aboard the 63-ft mothership Profligate.
In the past we’ve been able to get free berths for everyone on Wednesday night at Vintage Marina Partners in Channel Islands Harbor, where we’ve had great BBQs. As the folks who run that marina have done such a good job filling slips, we sort of doubt we’d be able to get free berths for everyone again. But you never know, and we think we could find room somewhere in the harbor for everyone.
Thursday would be the sail to the Paradise Cove anchorage and overnight there.
Friday is the longest sail of the event, 33 miles, across to Two Harbors, Catalina. In the four Ta-Ta’s to date, we’ve had four fabulous channel crossings, in almost ideal conditions. Once at Two Harbors, people could either anchor or arrange for a mooring. Friday night would be an open night, with most folks going ashore for that special Two Harbor’s ambience.
The award’s party — everyone gets an award in the Ta-Ta — would be on Saturday night, when we’d be having a potluck and slide show of the event.
While nothing can be guaranteed at any specific time, September weather in Southern California is usually the best of the year. What’s more, the Ta-Ta course offers the most fun sailing course in Southern California. No upwind sailing for us, and no whining, although the use of motors is allowed whenever you feel like it. Part of the fun is that we’d have daily roll calls and weather reports, and everybody would get to meet one another during sundowners on Profligate. And don’t forget, you’d be allowed to talk like a rasta man or rasta woman all you want.
The cost of the event would be $295, and would include a Ta-Ta hat and shirt, and at least one BBQ for the skipper and mate, and we’re not sure what else. It would not include the cost of berthing in Santa Barbara or Two Harbors, and probably not in Channel Islands.
If you’re very seriously interested in doing such a Ta-Ta — meaning you can get off work, have crew, and your boat is ready — please email [email protected]. In addition, let us know if you’d prefer the start on the 8th or the 15th, and if you’re ‘seriously considering the event’ or ‘ready to sign up today’.
If we determine there is enough interest, we’ll get to work finalizing arrangements, and then get back to everyone. But hey, even if there isn’t enough interest, you should still do the course on your own as we will be doing. When I say it’s the best week of cruising in Southern California, I’m not exaggerating.
Today is the deadline to enter the Delta Ditch Run, as much fun as you can pack into one day (and sometimes night) of sailing on inland waters. Cruising divisions depart Richmond Yacht Club at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 1; racing divisions start from a line set up south of the Brothers Islands with a 10:30 first warning. All convene at Stockton Sailing Club for a kickass party. The Ditch Run is an official Delta Doo Dah event. Hope to see you there!
The first Chichester Around Alameda Race was held back in the ’70s. “What makes this race so fun and interesting,” says Laser sailor Mike Bishop, “is that the only mark of the course is the island of Alameda itself. You can go around it either way! The challenge is the three relatively low drawbridges. They are not quite high enough to sail under, so capsizing, or sailing at an extreme heel or any other method to get you through the bridges is the trick. Taking into account the current so it’s with you is key. The fourth bridge (Bay Farm Island) is high enough to sail under, but the span is narrow so short-tacking takes skill and maybe a bit of nerve. Alameda Community Sailing Center is the organizing authority this year. The new format includes a short-course regatta on Saturday in Sea Plane Lagoon, a spectacular stadium-like venue for such racing. On Sunday, the Chichester Around Alameda Race will start with a broad reach to the turning mark — a SailGP-style start — before you decide which way you plan to sail the island.” Sign up here for this weekend’s event.
If lake sailing is more your thing, Gold Country YC invites you to Go for the Gold at Scotts Flat on June 1-2. Another alternative: California YC in Marina del Rey will host Cal Race Week and the PHRF SoCal Championships.
The 580-mile biennial Van Isle 360° International Yacht Race, a counterclockwise circumnavigation of Vancouver Island starting in Nanaimo, BC, with stops, will start on June 1 and wrap up on the 15th.
The fifth Race to Alaska expects 46 teams at the start in Port Townsend, WA, on Monday, June 3. Race Boss Daniel Evans points out that 16 of the crafts entered are under 20 feet. The smallest is just 14 feet. “The size of the boat alone will create exciting times for those teams.”
On June 8, the OYRA crowd will venture out the Golden Gate to the Farallon Islands. Santa Cruz YC will host the 5O5 Spring Regatta, while Monterey Peninsula YC will run a Hobie Regatta on June 8-9. In SoCal that weekend, Del Rey YC offers a race from Marina del Rey to Cat Harbor back. San Diego YC will host both a US Match Racing Qualifier and the Senior Sabot Nationals.
On June 13-16, Optis will sail the Heavy Weather Slalom & Regatta at StFYC. PICYA’s Lipton Cup will reprise last year’s successful format on June 14-16. Ten yacht clubs racing will compete in StFYC’s J/22s, hosted by Richmond YC. All of the spots are taken, but go out and cheer for the club of your choice: RYC, StFYC, SFYC, Berkeley, Corinthian, Encinal, Sequoia, South Beach, Tahoe, or — the defending champion — Inverness YC. That weekend, June 15-16, the El Toro fleet heads to Clear Lake for their Regionals.
Tahoe YC will host the Trans-Tahoe Regatta and the Santa Cruz 27 Nationals on June 21-22. Long Beach and Alamitos Bay YCs put on Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week on June 21-23. On that weekend, StFYC invites Knarrs, Folkboats, IODs, Birds and Bears to the Woodies Invitational. Sequoia YC in Redwood City will welcome the racers in the YRA Westpoint Regatta on June 22.
SDYC will host the US Youth Match Race Championship (aka Rose Cup) on June 26-30 and the Kettenburg & Classic Yacht Regatta on June 28-30. The Columbia Gorge Racing Association will open their season with the RS Aero North Americans on June 28-30.
On June 29, the OYRA fleet heads to Half Moon Bay. A bit farther south, the Little Boreas races from Monterey to Natural Bridges to Moss Landing. Those who prefer a long-distance course on San Francisco Bay have the option of Island YC’s Silver Eagle Race. The South Lake Tahoe sailors can enjoy a Southern Crossing. The BAYS Summer Series for youth kicks off on June 29-30, hosted by RYC.
The regattas sampled here represent a wide variety of racing styles, classes and geography. But the calendar includes many more events not included here. Pick up the June issue of Latitude 38 on Friday to check out the much longer list.
Call of the Sea will hold their annual fundraising gala on Saturday, June 8. The event benefits Call of the Sea’s on-the-water education programs and the completion of the new educational tall ship Matthew Turner. The Bay Model and the adjacent Army Corps of Engineers dock in Sausalito will set the scene for the celebration. The theme this year will be “Let your dreams set sail.” Gala-goers will be feted with live music, ship tours, buffet dinner, an open bar and auctions.
Here’s the schedule of activities:
- 5-6 p.m.: Dockside tours of brigantine Matthew Turner and schooner Seaward
- 5:30 p.m.: Buffet starts, with food prepared by local restaurants
- 7:45 p.m. Silent auction ends
- 8-9 p.m.: Live auction
Tickets are $125. Go to https://callofthesea.org/gala2019.