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March 13, 2020

Racing in the Times of Pandemic

Welcome to Friday the 13th.

Yacht Clubs Scramble

This morning we received word from Vallejo Yacht Club about the Great Vallejo Race, aka YRA Season Opener. “Due to the coronavirus, we are postponing the Great Vallejo Race to October,” writes Amy Hendricksen. “The safety of our sailors and guests is our first concern.” The GVR had been on the calendar for April 25-26.

crowd on the docks
It’s not the actual sailing that’s the issue, it’s the après-sail social mingling that’s currently unadvised.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

This notice dropped into our email inbox yesterday afternoon: “Effective immediately, the St. Francis Yacht Club has canceled all club sailing events until at least April 15, 2020. This includes regattas, all juniors sailing, high school sailing, and all club boats events. This decision has been made based on the most recent information available, in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Club leadership is receiving daily assessments of the coronavirus pandemic and will continue to manage the club with safety of staff, members, volunteers and guests as our number-one priority. We will keep our membership and the yachting community updated on a regular basis throughout this period.” The note is signed by Commodore Ken Glidewell and other officers of the club.

The cancellation affects this weekend’s Spring One Design, next weekend’s Spring Dinghy, and J/Fest on the first weekend of April.

Other Bay Area yacht clubs are postponing their meetings for now. Richmond YC has canceled their junior program for this Sunday, March 15.

Jeff Stine, Winter Series race captain at Sequoia YC in Redwood City, sent the following message to his fleet on Thursday regarding Saturday’s last race in the series:

“Due to concerns relating to COVID-19 we’ll be altering our pre- and post-race activities to minimize the possible spread of the virus.

“Competitor Meeting:

  • There is no need to come to the meeting.
  • If someone from your boat wants to attend, only one member from each boat should attend the meeting.
  • All info from meeting will be emailed to all skippers registered in Jibeset.
  • The course will be announced in the starting area via VHF 69 at 13:15.


  • There will be no food or scheduled activity in the club after the race.
  • Results will be posted on Jibeset as soon as possible.
  • Prizes will be labeled and available for pickup in the club office.”

The Singlehanded Sailing Society has postponed their March 18 awards meeting for the Corinthian Race. The tentative plan is to hold it in conjunction with the skippers’ meeting for Round the Rocks on April 8 at Oakland YC at 7:30 p.m.

As of this morning Long Beach YC has officially postponed all 2020 Congressional Cup, Ficker Cup, and California Dreamin’ regattas and their associated social events. They anticipate rescheduling these events, if possible.

Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach has decided to postpone the Laser Midwinters West Championship scheduled for March 20-22 to a later date.

Sacramento Boat Show Shut Down

“Due to new regulations issued by the State of California, we have been forced to cancel the show,” reads the Sacramento Boat Show’s home page. The powerboat show was scheduled for March 12-15.

If your organization has adjusted or canceled any events, please comment below. Include your full name, port of call, the name of your organization, and a link to the event’s web page, if any. Or, send an email to the Calendar editor.

America’s Cup World Series in Italy Canceled or Postponed?

From Luna Rossa, the Challenger of Record (COR 36): “Following the declaration of the Pandemic CoViD19 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the restrictions imposed by the different  governments, COR 36 has declared the impossibility of organizing the ACWS Sardinia — Cagliari (23-26 April) event at the scheduled date. COR 36 also submitted a proposal to the Defender to postpone the event to a new date.

“The Defender published a press release in which it announced the cancellation of the ACWS Sardinia — Cagliari without mentioning COR’s proposal of a new date for the event, and refused COR’s proposal without even discussing it. COR 36 will submit to the Arbitration Panel the postponement of the ACWS Sardinia — Cagliari to a new date.”

As of this morning, the America’s Cup website has not yet been updated.

Hempel World Cup Series Genoa Canceled

World Sailing has canceled the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Genoa due to COVID-19. The Italian city was to have hosted that event on April 11-19.

Hempel World Cup Series Genoa was to act as the final opportunity for Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification for African, Asian and European sailors in a number of the Olympic Sailing events. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has granted World Sailing an extension of the qualification period to June 30.

World Sailing is now working to reschedule the remaining African, Asian and European Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers and to make sure that all quota places can be filled. They’ll issue further updates on qualification events here.

470 Worlds Is Postponed

American Olympic hopefuls in the 470 class were about to start the 470 Worlds in Mallorca tomorrow. This event was to determine who gets to represent the US at the Olympics. Currently, Atlantic and Nora Brugman are just one point ahead of Carmen and Emma Cowles in the race to qualify. Stu McNay and David Hughes, vets of Rio 2016, have a nice comfy margin over their competitors.

470 fleet start
Racing in the 2019 470 Worlds in Japan.
© 2020 470 Class

However, US Sailing has advised all American Olympic class sailing athletes who are training in Europe to return to the United States. The 2020 470 World Championships were postponed by the International 470 Class and Club Nautic Arenal and will be reevaluated in April. The same hosting club has also canceled the 51st Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar Regatta.

None of these event cancellations mean you can’t go sailing. Getting out on the water on a sailboat is a refreshing way to escape the crowds and relieve the stress.

J Class Sloops Svea and Topaz Collide in Antigua

In an unfortunate and serious accident ahead of the start of this year’s Superyacht Challenge Antigua, there was a collision between Tom Siebel’s Svea and Topaz.

The video below shows 43.6-meter Svea on port hitting the transom of the 42.6-meter Topaz knocking one crew member overboard in the process.

Apparently, the accident occurred just before the start of the race on Thursday the 12th. Two crew members were injured and both boats were severely damaged so have withdrawn from the regatta.

Save Historic Travis Marina This Sunday

The Friends of Travis Marina invite our readers to join them at the bar this Sunday.

Travis Marina from the water
Approaching Travis Marina, in Horseshoe Cove, and Fort Baker from San Francisco Bay.
© 2020 Anne Thomas

This is amazing!” they wrote in their invitation. “We have over 13,850 signatures on our petition asking National Park Service to make a long-term contract with Travis Air Force Base to continue as the operator of the boat shop and Marina at Fort Baker.”

Although Travis Air Force Base is in Fairfield, CA, the Travis Marina (and bar) is nestled at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge’s North Tower, in the headlands of Sausalito. The Travis Marina Bar occupies the second floor of Presidio Yacht Club. It’s in a funky old building — and we like it that way. The view, however, is easily worth a million bucks. The neighborhood includes the Bay Area Discovery Museum, Coast Guard Station Golden Gate and the upscale Cavallo Point lodge/spa/restaurant.

“Come one, come all, to enjoy an afternoon at Travis Marina Bar (Presidio Yacht Club) Sunday, March 15, 2-5 p.m.,” continues the invitation. “Show your support of Travis Air Force remaining the operator of this unique service-driven gem in our community. Come share why you love Travis Marina, enjoy great music by local band Clean Break, and relax on your beautiful, historic working waterfront.

“Let’s show NPS we do not want the corporatization of our waterfront. Travis Marina is part of the irreplaceable working waterfront of Sausalito.”

plein air painter
Presidio Yacht Club and the Travis Bar occupy part of this building. These photos were taken during a cruise-in from Richmond YC last April. Rumors of development were already circulating.
© 2020 Anne Thomas

“We will also hold another event in the near future because of current health concerns and the chance of rain,” writes Piper Perreault from the Friends of Travis Marina. “But those very salty sailors, please join us this Sunday as well! Those who don’t want to come but still want to show support can call Nancy Pelosi, Jared Huffman and John Garamendi and tell them to ask NPS to stop their RFQ process looking for a new lessee and negotiate a long-term contract directly with Travis Air Force Base because it’s in the best interest of the public.”

Email any questions to [email protected].

Boat Drags Anchor, Goes onto Rocks in Mexico

San Evaristo is a popular anchorage for boats traveling to and from the northern Sea of Cortez, sheltered from everything but an easterly, which Isla San Jose, a mere four miles away, helps to mitigate.

Even the best anchorages, however, require proper technique and ongoing vigilance, as demonstrated by the unfortunate catamaran Vada Luine. On the night of February 27, the Bali 45 dragged her anchor and was driven onto the reef off Punta San Romualdo on the south side of the entrance to the bay. Vada Luine, operated by Dream Yacht Charters out of La Paz, had its port hull severely damaged, sinking onto the rocks and stranding the boat for four days.

Vada Luine dragged anchor and went onto the rocks in San Evaristo, Mexico, at the end of February.
© 2020 Curtis Siess

Three days later, bedding and other debris were still washing up onto the beach in San Evaristo. A crew from Marina del Palmar in La Paz succeeded in floating the damaged hull late on the night of March 1, using a single float bag along with numerous 55-gallon poly drums and standard Mexican household Rotoplas water tanks. The following day they stabilized the craft enough to tow it back to La Paz.

A strong northerly was blowing the night the boat grounded, and the port captain in La Paz had the port closed the 26th and 27th. Most Baja anchorages are blessed with sand bottoms, so holding is generally good, but it is still important to use proper tackle and to let out appropriate scope (3:1 minimum, up to 6:1 if more spirited weather is expected).

Vada Luine, after being floated off the rocks by a crew from Marina del Palmar.
© 2020 Curtis Siess

In addition, all boats should use some sort of anchor watch. The severely budget-conscious may need to take bearings and keep checking visually, but anyone with a cell phone can get an anchor watch app. We prefer the Anchor Alarm app from w&h GmbH, as it is simple and free, and works without the screen’s being active.

Remember, there are only two types of sailors — those who have been aground and those who will be (or who lie about it, depending on the version). While there might be some perverse pleasure in witnessing the poor luck of a charter skipper, we should all be glad it wasn’t our beloved craft on the rocks, and take it as an example to continue to use care at any anchorage.

The Ocean Race Announces Route

The next edition of The Ocean Race (ex-Volvo, ex-Whitbread) will depart Alicante, Spain, in October 2021. The around-the-world race with eight stops will finish in Genoa, Italy, in summer 2022. Newport, RI, will again be included in the stopovers. That will be the only port in North America.

The Ports

  • Alicante, Spain — Race Start
  • *Cabo Verde
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • *Shenzhen, China
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Itajaí, Brazil
  • Newport, RI, USA
  • Aarhus, Denmark
  • The Hague, Netherlands
  • *Genoa, Italy — The Grand Finale

(* indicates a new host city)

Stopover dates have yet to be confirmed.

route map
The route of the 2021-22 edition.
© 2020 The Ocean Race

“This new race route respects our heritage as an event that crosses the world’s oceans, leaving the great capes of the Southern Hemisphere to port, and diving into the Southern Ocean on the approach to the iconic Cape Horn,” said race chairman Richard Brisius. “With seven returning stopovers and three new host cities, there is a good balance between stability and exploration. The route will take us through the Java Sea, near Indonesia, for the first time.”

IMOCA 60 Class

For the first time, The Ocean Race is now open to the high-tech foiling IMOCA 60 class. And the one-design VO65 boats that provided record-breaking performance in the 2017-18 edition of the race — the closest race in the history of the event — will be back.

VO65 fleet start
The VO65 fleet, as pictured in the previous edition. Leg 11, from Gothenburg to The Hague, started on June 21, 2018.
© 2020 Jesus Renedo / Volvo Ocean Race

“As we open up the design and innovation elements of the race again with the IMOCA class, confirming the race route for our teams has taken on an added importance as the designers look to optimize performance for the conditions,” said managing director Johan Salén. “This route is more compact at 38,000 nautical miles and with two less stopovers compared with the last race. But it includes two significant Southern Ocean legs.”

Aboard the 11th Hour Racing IMOCA
The American team, 11th Hour Racing, pictured last fall. The crew adjust to sailing a foiling IMOCA 60 as they practice sail changes.
© 2020 Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing

The introduction of the IMOCA fleet into The Ocean Race presents a new opportunity for sailors. Frenchman Paul Meilhat, the winner of the 2018 Route du Rhum and the current leader of the IMOCA sailor rankings, is among those looking to make the transition. “The Ocean Race is one of the most global events in sport, and the racecourse for 2021-22 underlines why it is so special — with some of the best offshore sailing conditions around, and a massive commercial reach touching six continents,” he said. “It has long been my dream to compete in The Ocean Race and test myself against the best sailors in one of the most challenging races in the sport.”

Keeping It Coed

“As ever, The Ocean Race appeals to athletes and teams who want to compete against the best in the world and add their name to the list of the legends of our sport who have defined their careers by taking on this incredible challenge,” said Richard Brisius.

One of those sailors is Carolijn Brouwer (NED). She became one of the first women to win The Ocean Race as part of the victorious Dongfeng Race Team in the last race. In the 2021-22 edition, all teams, in both classes, will be required to have female crewmembers.

“To lift The Ocean Race trophy with Dongfeng Race Team in 2017-18 was a dream come true for myself and the team,” Brouwer said. “The 2021-22 race course keeps the Southern Ocean at the heart of the race. The new foiling IMOCA boats plus the returning VO65s means more epic racing and great human stories.”

Beyond Sailing

Building on a legacy from the last edition, The Ocean Race 2021-22 will feature a new series of The Ocean Race Summits (the first took place in Genoa, Italy, in September 2019), an expanded version of a curriculum for schools, and a robust science and data program. All race teams will be required to use renewable sources to generate a portion of the energy used on board in both the IMOCA and VO65 fleets.

Given the uncertainties related to the current coronavirus pandemic, race organizers are in ongoing conversations with medical experts and authorities and following their advice. As always, the health, safety and well-being of The Ocean Race family and all race stakeholders is a top priority.

Weekend Regattas
The rain that fell on San Francisco Bay racers on Saturday the 7th, and is predicted to fall again this weekend, presents only a minor discomfort to the dedicated weekend warriors who frequent the Bay.
Youth Sailing
The SF Scouts runs two sailing vessels: Viking, sailed by high school-aged females, and Corsair, sailed by high school-aged males. The program focuses on sailing training on traditional whaleboats.
Turbocharged Doublehanded Racing
In New Zealand, they have the Short Handed Sailing Association, or SSANZ. It’s kind of like the California versions only turbocharged with faster winds and faster boats. Their latest race has just finished.
Pacific Offshore Academy
Berkeley Yacht Club will host the third Pacific Cup Offshore Academy March 15. The all-day seminar will focus on things that the racers heading off to Oahu in July really need to be thinking about right now.