August 12, 2019

SailGP’s Wild, Crashy Weekend in Cowes

Who would have thought that San Francisco would be one of the mellower circuits of the SailGP world tour? After some windy, shifty conditions in New York, the six teams went into Cowes in the United Kingdom and scored a couple of scenic-looking practice days.

But when race time came, it was, quite simply, gnarly.

“The United States SailGP Team capsized within 30 seconds of the start of race one, but surprisingly was able to compete in the rest of the day’s racing with quick assistance from the SailGP tech team,” a SailGP press release said. “Despite a tough day, Kirby’s American team was able to climb the leaderboard for third place overall.”
© 2019 SailGP

United States team capsized, Great Britain Team took a violent nosedive, and the action off Southern England was completely mad.

On the last leg of the first race, UK team took a serious digger. “Chris Draper tumbling over Stuart Bithell in a dramatic crash. No injuries were sustained, however, the boat was too damaged to sail for the remainder of the day,” a press release said.
© 2019 SailGP

Australia Team dominated the event and is lookin’ good going into the fifth and final event next month in France.

“Earlier in the week, the Australian team sustained damage to its wing in practice and was unsure whether it would be able to race today, but Sunday morning saw all damage repaired and Slingsby raring to go,” a press release said. “The team, which only had a couple hours of practice in its boat this week, made a deal with the French, who loaned the Aussies their boat in exchange for some training with Slingsby onboard.”
© 2019 SailGP

Taking three bullets in Cowes, Australia Team now has a four-point lead over Japan — who took two seconds and a third. The last stop in Marseille, France, will hit the water in just over a month on September 20.

Coast Guard Rescues Sailors in Tomales Bay

On Thursday evening, the 40-ft sailboat The Witch ran aground in Tomales Bay amid 25-mph winds and six-foot waves. The boat hailed the Coast Guard.

Because of the shallow water, the Coast Guard contacted the Marin County Fire Department, or MCFD, “who provided a search and rescue personal-watercraft. The MCFD personal-watercraft operator passed a towline from the MLB to the sailboat,” a Coast Guard press release said.

The Coast Guard eventually towed The Witch to Spud Point Marina in Bodega Bay. There were no injuries reported.

In Other Coast Guard News

A day before the rescue of The Witch here in the Bay Area, the Coast Guard was conducting a routine inspection of a 160-ft Ecuadorian fishing vessel when it began listing. The fishing boat was 336 nautical miles southeast of Clipperton Island, off Mexico. Everyone onboard abandoned ship, and a Coast Guard cutter ended up rescuing 12 of their own crew along with 25 fishermen, according to a press release.

The rescuers became the rescued off the coast of Mexico on Wednesday.
© 2019 Google Maps

“Fast action by the cutter’s crew resulted in a remarkable mass rescue in a dangerous and challenging situation,” Capt. Arthur Snyder, chief of operations for the 11th Coast Guard District, said in a press release. “Their decisive response reflects their training and dedication, and shows the types of dangers faced by Coast Guard crews deployed around the world protecting our nation.”

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Shoreside Scenes from a Junior Regatta

The Chubb US Junior regatta is kind of a big deal. Lots of hardware is up for grabs, including the Smythe and Bemis trophies and the Sears Cup — accolades that even we here at Latitude remember from our junior sailing days.

While US Sailing is a nationwide organization, it has deep East Coast roots, though the Chubb — an annual regatta that draws sailors from all over the country at a rotating venues — has been all over the map the last five-plus years, including Michigan, Texas, and San Diego.

The Open 5.70s return to Westpoint Harbor after a day of racing on Saturday.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim

This year, it was the Peninsula Youth Sailing Foundation’s (PYSF) turn to host nearly 100 sailors competing in three classes. Sailing out of Westpoint Harbor, 20 Laser Radials, 20 C420s and 11 Open 5.70s (a three-person keelboat) battled it out in typically sporty summer conditions on the South Bay. On Saturday, when we asked a handful of competitors what it was like out on the water, they all answered succinctly: “Windy.”

San Francisco Yacht Club’s Will Foox took the win in Laser Radials for the Smythe Trophy; Balboa Yacht Club’s David Wood, Daniel Pegg and Kenny Sherb won the Sears Cup in Open 570s, and Newport Harbor Yacht Club’s Morgan Pinckney and Nathan Sih took the Bemis in C420s. (Richmond Yacht Club’s Caleb Yoslov was third in Radials, while RYC’s Owen Lahr, Connell Phillipps and Wesley Seifers took second in 5.70s).

But one of the real success stories of the weekend was PYSF itself, which is starting to make a name as an outstanding junior sailing program. As we reported in this month’s Sightings, PYSF — under the leadership of Molly O’Bryan Vandemoer — has been putting together some good sailors and good people.

PYSF’s Udi Gal at Westpoint Harbor on Saturday.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim

“We’re almost like a community center first, and a sailing program second,” said PYSF coach Udi Gal on Saturday. Gal, a two-time Olympian and two-time Olympic 470 coach, said that he cares about results on the water, but the program is  concerned first with building teamwork and respect among its ranks.

Lots of boats and lots of wet gear dotted Westpoint Harbor this weekend.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim

“It took us a few years,” Gal said, “but it’s like we’re speaking the same language with the parents now and we’re all on the same page.”

Gal echoed what Vandemoer told us about the PYSF’s ascendancy. “The reason we’re successful is it’s a lot of hard work — it’s hard work from the kids that bought into the program and the parents that bought into the program. It’s hard work from the coaching staff and all of us behind the scenes.”

Hannah Beaver from The Sailing Foundation in Seattle competed in Laser Radials this weekend.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim

Speaking of that behind-the-scenes work, keep in mind that pulling off any junior regatta of any size takes platoons of volunteers. There are no trophies for those who help set the stage, but we thought we’d give a tip of our hat to everyone in the South Bay sailing community for their hard work.

Chris Kostanecki Wins J/70 Corinthian Nationals

Chris Kostanecki, hailing from the San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere, took his saltwater sailing skills to the freshwater lakes of Michigan to challenge 35 other competitors in the J/70 Corinthian National Championship. In tide-free Harbor Springs, Michigan, Kostanecki and crew Matthew Sessions, Carlos Robles and Scott Kozinchik sailed aboard J/70 Jennifer in a tight series against runner-up Scott Sellers of Larkspur aboard Tres Burritos.

Kostanecki wins J/70 Coriinthian National Championship
They were fast. In fact so fast everything was a blur. Left to right: Scott Kozinchik, Carlos Robles, Chris Kostanecki, Matthew Sessions.
© 2019 Chris Kostanecki

They came into today’s final pair of races with a three-point advantage over the St. Francis YC-flagged Tres Burritos. But Sellers nailed another bullet (his fourth of the regatta) in Race 7 to take the lead. Back came Kostanecki to win the eighth and final contest and become the 2019 J/70 Corinthian National Champion. Keeping excitement levels high, they got a worrisome tenth in the second-to-last race but their bullet in the final race closed the deal. “Fresh water, windy, and the waves were bigger and steeper than San Francisco,” Kostanecki commented. “It was the Pure Michigan experience with world-class people and social activities,” he continued. “We thought we threw it away. Thank you to my team who worked hard in some difficult moments.”

J-70 Corinthian Nationals
Kostanecki’s J/70 Jennifer shows her winning ways.
© 2019 Christopher Howell / J/70 Class

Beyond being a very competitive sailor, Kostanecki is a leukemia survivor who chaired the very successful Leukemia Cup Regatta for SFYC for about 10 years. We’re sure that competitive streak has helped both on and off the racecourse. This year’s Leukemia Cup is coming on Sunday, October 20. You can sign up to join Chris on the water in October here.

J/70 Corinthian North American Winners
And happy winners aboard the Jennifer: Scott Kozinchik, Fairfax, Matthew Sessions, Mill Valley, Carlos Robles, Palma Spain, Chris Kostanecki, Ross.
© 2019 Matthew Sessions
Latitude's Nature Friday
A recent TED talk on climate change by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden thrust her into the international spotlight. She will set sail aboard 'Malizia II', an IMOCA 60, to attend the UN Climate Action Summit in New York.
That Elusive Moment
Those of us on the West Coast have also been known to gaze at the horizon in hopes of catching a green flash as the sun sets behind the Pacific Ocean.
Is Recycling a Panacea?
“When you think of recycling, you probably think of a magical process where you throw your plastic in the blue bin, and a unicorn takes it away, and nine months later you get a beautiful baby water bottle.” — The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah.