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December 18, 2019

‘Matthew Turner’ Struts Her Stuff off San Francisco

While we were making the (not) first-ever circumnavigation of Red Rock on Saturday, a certain Bay Area boat was enjoying a first-ever of her own. “We sailed Matthew Turner across the Bay to the San Francisco Cityfront, along the Embarcadero, then back around Alcatraz to Sausalito,” said our roving reporter John ‘Woody’ Skoriak. “It was the first time we hoisted the main and all the sails, including the square sails and jib. It was a fabulous day, as you know.”

After years of anticipation, Matthew Turner finally let all her sails hang out and stretched her legs.
© 2019 John Skoriak

Skoriak said that under the command of Matthew Turner‘s captain, Adrian McCollough, a long-time tall-ship sailor, rigger and shipwright extraordinaire, a  great time was had by all aboard as she sailed along beautifully. “We have done quite a few sailing trials between the rainy days, mostly experimenting with the square sails,  but this time we hoisted the main as well. She tacked, jibed, sailed downwind, upwind, against the current and with the current. No matter where we pointed her, she just wanted to charge ahead.”

Top photo: Matthew Turner sails off the Cityfront. Bottom: Call of the Sea’s Sylvia Stompe takes the wheel.
© 2019 John Skoriak

“In addition to our experienced captain Adrian, we also had our rock star rigger/tall-ship sailors along,” Skoriak continued. “This group of tall-ship sailors — all volunteers as well — included Keil Kohler, who ran the deck as mate, Noah Limbach, who was bos’n, and Virginia Jay ( “Dinnie”) from Boston. These experienced young hands helped the Matthew Turner volunteers ‘learn the ropes’, literally. At least on Matthew Turner it seemed that the young riggers could teach ‘old dogs’ new tricks . . .”

How many crew does it take to raise and lower a tall ship’s mainsail? We’re really not sure. Let’s just say a lot.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John Skoriak

‘Many of Matthew Turner’s longtime volunteers like Neil are very experienced sailors — some are even boat owners — and are very competent handling any type of sailboat. But on Matthew Turner, there are a lot more sails than just the main, mizzen  and jib or genoa.

A tall-ship sailor works Matthew Turner’s yards. Just think, in the old days, they did this without harnesses. But in the old days, life expectancy was 37.
© 2019 John Skoriak

“There are upper and lower topgallants, royals, skysails, maybe even a moonraker, spankers, courses, etc. And to make them all set and work properly, there is a veritable forest of lines, buntlines, guys, braces, pendants and lifts. It might all sound like a Patrick O’Brian novel , but as we know, the Matthew Turner is the real thing.”

Top: That’s East Coaster Virginia ‘Dinnie’ Jay taking charge. Bottom: Another pass by the Cityfront. Skoriak said that after the New Year, watch out for the Matthew Turner on the Bay. “She’s  coming to visit a dock near you.” Weather permitting, of course.
© 2019 John Skoriak

Here’s a quick little video of Saturday’s sail . . .

Brigantine Mathew Turner on San Francisco Bay from Charles Hambleton on Vimeo.

 . . . And last, but certainly not least, let us not forget the visionary who made this all possible.

Alan Olson, the project director at Call of the Sea, had an idea to build a tall ship. A handful of years later, the dream materialized.
© 2019 John Skoriak

Check out the January issue of Latitude for more photos from Matthew Turner’s first sail.

This story has been updated.

A Shuffle of SailGP Teams

Yesterday, SailGP announced the addition of the Spain SailGP Team to the global championship’s Season 2 lineup. Replacing China, Spain will join Australia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Japan and the United States. The world’s fastest sailboat racing will visit six venues across the globe in 2020, including San Francisco.

USA boat crashes down
In 2019 local sailors had to choose between spectating at SailGP or racing in the Great Vallejo Race. The YRA rescheduled the GVR in 2020 to avoid a conflict.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Mitch

Spain, China and Denmark

China was one of SailGP’s six league-funded teams for its inaugural season, and finished third overall. The foiling F50 catamaran used by China will transfer to Spain, which will begin competing at the start of the 2020 season in Sydney (February 28-29).

“We’re thrilled to welcome Spain to SailGP and very much look forward to the new team’s involvement in the league,” said SailGP CEO Sir Russell Coutts. “Though the China SailGP Team had a successful first season, we were unfortunately not granted the permissions necessary to continue operating the team within our existing structure. With numerous active discussions around future teams, we were fortunate to be in the position to make an immediate substitution, allowing us to deliver on our promise of seven teams for Season 2 as our global championship continues to grow.”

Six teams competed in SailGP in 2019; the seventh will be from Denmark, with support from the Danish company Rockwool. Multi-time around-the-world sailor Nicolai Sehested will take the helm and Olympic silver medalist Jonas Høgh-Christensen will manage the team.

Coutts and Danish team
Sir Russell Coutts (left) welcomed the Danes to SailGP last week.
© 2019 SailGP

“SailGP remains interested in continuing to support both a Chinese team and the development of a sailing academy in China as planned if a future agreement can be reached,” added Coutts. “The members of the Chinese team have been strongly committed to SailGP, and they represented the team, the league and the country very well. We wish everyone involved all the best and look forward to our continued work with some members of the team.”

The China SailGP Team skippered by Phil Robertson warming up ahead of Fleet Race 4 in San Francisco.
© 2019 SailGP

Spain’s SailGP team will announce their crew lineup in Madrid in late January, following training in New Zealand.

The UK and USA

Sir Ben Ainslie has joined the British team. We presume he will be the skipper. The team will announce the full crew lineup early next year.

Gotrel, Ainslie and Coutts
Great Britain SailGP Team CEO Chris Draper (left) and helmsman Ben Ainslie will lead the team in 2020. British Olympic champion rower Matt Gotrel was also named as the second official team member of the 2020 squad.    
© 2019 SailGP

The crew currently listed for the US team are Rome Kirby, helm; Taylor Canfield, flight controller; Tom Johnson, wing trimmer; Riley Gibbs, wing trimmer; Hans Henken, grinder; Mac Agnese, grinder; and Dan Morris, grinder.

Event Schedule

The schedule for 2020 will be:

  • February 28-29 in Sydney, Australia
  • May 2-3 in San Francisco
  • June 12-13 in New York
  • August 14-15 in Cowes, UK

Tickets for the first event are on sale at