“Doing the Rendez-vous has been the most fun we’ve had on our entire trip,” said Tara Travers-Stephens on Sunday with an ear-to-ear grin. Even before jumping off from Banderas Bay in early April, she and her husband John had vowed to take part in the annual Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendez-vous (June 21-23) aboard their Redwood City-based Tatoosh 50 Endeavour. But in order to make good on that promise they had to battle abnormally unsettled wind and sea conditions on their 200-mile crossing from the Tuamotus to Tahiti, arriving only hours before the beginning of festivities Friday. “At times we had steady winds in the mid-30s, and gusts into the 40s — really!”
With many boats held up by bad weather in the Tuamotus and Marquesas, this year’s Rendez-vous was smaller than usual, but the crews — from at least 10 nations — who did attend all seemed glad they’d made the effort. Designed with the dual purpose of celebrating the arrival of the cruising fleet and showcasing French Polynesian cultural traditions, the three-day event got underway Friday afternoon on Papeete’s waterfront quay with a detailed chart briefing by event organizer Stephanie Betz of Archipelagoes, and one-on-one opportunities to gather advance cruising info from sponsoring partners who’d flown in from Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and New Caledonia. A cocktail party followed, plus the first of several high-energy music and dance performances.
On Saturday morning, there was just enough wind outside Papeete Harbor to justify the start of the annual rally/race to Moorea’s majestic Cook’s Bay, roughly 15 miles away. After more than an hour of battling light-air shifts and lulls, a new breeze of 20 knots eventually arrived, giving the fleet a fun ride to the finish line. Later, after cocktails and dinner at the waterside Aimeo Lodge, the evening’s entertainment featured an eye-popping dance show, complete with elaborate costumes, gyrating hips, and a troupe of heavily tattooed fire dancers.
On Sunday, the focus was on traditional Polynesian sports. As always, the highlight was racing in six-person outrigger canoes. Staged beneath Moorea’s towering volcanic peaks, participation always yields lasting memories. Look for more on the Rendez-vous in the August issue of Latitude 38, and at www.tahiti-moorea-sailing-rdv.com.
The breeze on the Seacoast was 10 to 15 knots, rustling the trees in my friend’s back yard in Rye, New Hampshire, which was just a few miles from the beach and Rye Harbor State Park. As we said in part 1 of When West Meets East, New England had had an unusually wet, cold spring, upon my arrival in early June, which delayed the launch of SPBs [Several People’s Boats] — not to mention all those delays caused by life.
One of my favorite things to do on vacation . . . is work. Seriously. There’s only so much catching up over drinks that one can do before you start to feel like a tourist with no purpose. And when you’re traveling on a budget, you’ll often find yourself couch-surfing in friends’ living rooms — or, if you’re lucky, on their boat. What better way to thank people than to help bang out a few boat projects? (My friends had often rallied to do the same for me.)
I’ve stayed with my friends in Rye nearly once a year since I left New England in 2005; one year, I helped put new bottom paint on their 1922 21-ft Alden Indian Sacagawea. Last year, my friends bought the Douglas 31 Fling, which they kept in their back yard for the winter. I should stop here to acknowledge two concepts foreign to an urban West Coaster: First, that people could own a back yard big enough to store a boat (several yards around Rye — all of which were epically, lusciously green and lush from the wet spring — sported boats being prepped for the water). And second, that boats need to be put away for winter.
In comparing the “boaty-ness” of the West Coast vs. East, there are myriad factors that define what makes a place good for sailors — namely the place itself and what it offers in terms of sites, conditions, docks and facilities, etc. But under that “conditions” category, the East Coast has that whole nine months of deep-freeze thing. In response to Wednesday’s part 1, Milly Biller wrote: “I love the East Coast in the summer, but their winter sucks! I like sailing year round.” We couldn’t agree with you more, Milly. That the East Coast has such a short window into its boaty charm may, in some strange way, inflate its appeal. (We’ll have more of that in the next and final installment of this series.)
My friend had built a PVC frame spanning the entire deck of Fling last fall to support the tarp (I regret that I didn’t snap a picture of it before we took it apart). After the first heavy downpours of the fall and winter, my friend reinforced parts of the frame with two-by-fours. The tarp — and boat — weathered the winter well; Fling was bone-dry inside when we unearthed her.
All that remained was to truck the boat to the harbor, step the mast, and sail her to her mooring in Kittery, Maine, on the Piscataqua River. While their season was short last year (it seems like all East Coast seasons are, by definition, short) my friends said they had a few excellent sails, including Gloucester (where they bought the boat) to Kittery and out to the Isle of Shoals, off the New Hampshire coast.
My friends had “plans” to buddy-boat Down East, or north, up the coast of Maine. But like any good cruising program, those plans were, at best, loosely defined. “We’re just going to show up in Bar Harbor and take it from there.”
In 1973, five men and six women embarked on a 101-day scientific sea adventure, drifting across the Atlantic on a raft called Acali. The voyage was a social experiment cooked up by Santiago Genovés. The anthropologist aimed to explore the origins of violence and the dynamics of sexual attraction. He assembled a crew of subjects, mixing religion, gender and nationality to maximize potential friction on board. The documentary uses archival footage and a recreated set, assembling the surviving participants to discuss the controversial experiment, lambasted by the media as “The Sex Raft.”
Crewing aboard Acali (and shooting some of the film) was Mary Gidley, the wife of Cass Gidley. In the Bay Area, the Gidleys are best known for starting Cass’ Marina, a sailboat rental and lessons business in Sausalito. Now 82, Mary currently sails with her son, race car driver Memo Gidley, aboard the Elliott 1050 Basic Instinct out of Sausalito. They compete regularly in Bay Area regattas, including the Singlehanded Sailing Society’s doublehanded series. We interviewed Mary and Memo in May, and have been running our conversation in installments starting in the June issue of Latitude 38. The story will continue in the July issue, coming out on Monday.
Mary will be at the Rafael Theater tonight at 7:15 for a Q&A that will follow the screening of The Raft. We’ll be there too, and we hope that many of our readers will come and wear their Latitude 38 gear. If you can’t make it tonight, you’ll have another chance tomorrow night, also at 7:15. For a complete schedule of times and dates, including matinées, see https://rafaelfilm.cafilm.org/the-raft.
In 1989, the first all-female crew raced around the world in the Whitbread on Maiden, a 58-ft Bruce Farr aluminum monohull. “They shattered expectations and blazed a new trail for women in sailing,” said Oakcliff Sailing’s newsletter yesterday. “Thirty years later, that story is more relevant than ever. Director Alex Holmes turned their story into a documentary and it officially hit theaters on Tuesday. As the story of Maiden touches more people, it is garnering interest in the advancement of women and the sport of sailing.”
Dave Davies interviewed Maiden skipper Tracy Edwards on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday. Apparently, the footage from aboard Maiden owes its existence to the fact that the women’s team was the only one that agreed to shoot footage during the race; the men all refused, thinking it would slow them down.
The movie opens today, but already, sailors who’ve seen the trailer are plotting to screen it at their yacht clubs. And, we’ve received a tip that the yacht Maiden herself will sail into San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere later this summer; estimated dates are August 20-30. We haven’t found any showtimes locally yet. See www.maiden.film/watchthefilm to find a screening near you.
Fourth of July Week
The SSS Great Pacific Longitude Race, a qualifier for the Singlehanded TransPac, leads off a busy July race schedule, with a start off San Francisco on July 3. Doublehanded and singlehanded boats sail west for 200 miles, then turn around and come back.
A couple of USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festivals are on the calendar in July. Hawaii and Honolulu YCs will co-host one on July 3-13, and Long Beach YC will host one on July 12-14. See www.ussailing.org.
A flurry of fun races add sizzle to Independence Day, among them Tiburon YC’s Brothers & Sisters Race, a Fourth of July Regatta for youth at Encinal YC in Alameda, and a new Fireworks Folly Pursuit Race at SFYC.
On July 6, SFYC will host the Hart Nunes Regatta for Mercurys.
On July 8-13, 44 or so teenage girls from all over the country will descend upon Richmond YC for the US Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship/Leiter Cup, sailed in Laser Radials.
The 50th Transpac race from L.A. to Honolulu will start off San Pedro on July 10, 12 and 13. Initial entries had climbed into the triple digits, but when the dust settled, 92 became the official total. That is still a record-breaking number. For an extensive preview of the epic race, see the July issue of Latitude 38, coming out on Monday, July 1.
St. Francis YC will host the C420 North Americans on July 10-14.
The 29er Nationals will be held on the Columbia River Gorge on July 12-15
The Great SF Schooner Race and Belvedere Classic Regatta on July 13 at SFYC will be included in a new SF Bay Classic Championship Series that started with the Master Mariners Regatta and will conclude at StFYC with the Jessica Cup in October. We think it’s a great idea to connect these existing events into a series.
If your craft is of a certain vintage but not an old woodie, the 13th is still the date for you. Bay View Boat Club’s 35th annual Plastic Classic Regatta will be followed by dining and dancing at the clubhouse, itself a relic of a not-so-distant past when the San Francisco waterfront flowed with character.
Fresno YC’s High Sierra Regatta on Huntington Lake will enjoy plenty of water for the centerboard weekend on July 13-14 and the keelboat weekend on July 20-21.
Balboa YC in Corona del Mar will host the Governor’s Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship on July 15-20 in Governor’s Cup 22s.
The Columbia Gorge Racing Association will host the Wind Clinic and Regatta for Lasers and Optis on July 15-21.
San Diego YC’s Junior Sailing Program presents the Dutch Shoe Marathon for Junior and Senior Sabot sailors on the 19th.
Sailing in 420s & 29ers for the Ida Lewis Trophy, the US Sailing Junior Women’s Doublehanded Championship will be held at SDYC on July 19-24.
San Francisco Bay Area sailors will be able to choose from a couple of long-distance races (going in opposite directions) on July 20: the OYRA Duxship around Duxbury Reef Buoy and the Lightship, and SFYC’s Midnight Moonlight Maritime Marathon, a 35-mile pursuit race starting in Raccoon Strait, sailing around the Carquinez Bridge and returning. Enter by 6 p.m. on Wednesday the 17th to save $30 on the entry fee.
Women ‘Take the Tiller’ for their own regatta at Half Moon Bay YC on July 27, with racing offered in Cal 20s, Coronado 15s and Lasers.
All genders are welcome on the helm for the YRA Encinal Regatta (ex-2nd Half Opener) on July 27-28. The course heads out to Point Bonita with a finish down the Estuary on Saturday. Sunday features short-course racing on the Estuary.
As usual, the above events represent only a sampling of races available on the West Coast in the coming month. For many more, check out the Calendar in the July issue of Latitude. Did we miss mentioning your favorite here? Feel free to share it in the comments section below.