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June 26, 2020

Inverness Yacht Club Approves 2020 Sailing Schedule

As organized sailing schedules slowly resume, Inverness Yacht Club has been among the first to approve a 2020 racing season. Last weekend club members enjoyed their first race day since the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions almost five months ago, albeit with some restrictions still in place.

Great weather and easing restrictions conspired to create a perfect sailing day for a Flying Scot, O’Day Mariner, Laser, RS Aero 9, Johnson 18 and eight 110s.
© 2020 Michael Sporer

“On Tomales Bay we don’t have the same Coast Guard restrictions as on San Francisco Bay, but we do have to comply with Marin County requirements,”  InvYC Race Chair Michael Sporer said. “This was our first club-sponsored event for the year under COVID-19 restrictions.”

InvYC’s 110 fleet lit up Tomales Bay with their gleaming sails. In this shot, Robert Cardwell and daughter Emily on #735 lead the start of the 110 class.
© 2020 Cynthia Gerlinger

One of the requirements is that boats need to be crewed solo unless the crew is from the same household. “Fortunately my children crew for me so sailing solo wasn’t a barrier, although several skippers have indicated they will wait for the solo restriction to be lifted in order to take their boat out.”

Naomi Sporer all smiles on the trapeze.
Naomi Levine Sporer loving her first time on the trapeze aboard Oremus.
© 2020 Michael Sporer

Saturday’s 13-boat fleet was a mixed class and included eight 110 sailboats — six of which sailed singlehanded, while the remaining two were crewed by families.

Open Class and solo sailing
Tim Duncan sailing solo in the Open Class aboard his Johnson 18, #124 with Bren Meyer, #300 also sailing solo.
© 2020 Cynthia Gerlinger

Michael says it took “a lot of effort” to resume the club’s race schedule. Approval for Saturday’s first regatta came just in the nick of time, on June 17. And the “effort,” while clearly worthwhile for racers, also resulted in approval for the InvYC’s 2020 Youth Sailing Camp.

Safety boat driven by Anna-Pia Slothower and Peter Lassetter.
As the safety boat is essential to the event, the “same household” restriction does not apply to RC Bruce Ahlbom, Anna-Pia Slothower and Cynthia Gerlinger under the guidance of PRO Peter Lassetter.
© 2020 Cynthia Gerlinger

Most years, the club’s organized events include 13 races known as the Bender Series, the annual Hog Island ‘Long Distance’ Invitational Race, district championships for a variety of classes, and the occasional national regatta.

Milly Biller flies her chicken mainsail
Milly Biller cut a new ‘chicken main’ out of an old mainsail so that she could singlehand easily.
© 2020 Cynthia Gerlinger

“We sail both Open Class with Portsmouth, and an International 110 One Design,” Michael added.

No doubt Michael’s thoughts about his first day back into racing are being echoed by sailors all across the region.

“It was great for me to get out on the water.”

Emily Cardwell and her dad Robert pretty well sum up the weekend aboard their boat — Fun.
© 2020 Cynthia Gerlinger

As it stands right now, due to the COVID regulations, only club members can participate in organized events. Anyone interested in joining Inverness Yacht Club or learning about the club’s racing program can find information on the website at

Has your club’s racing season resumed ? What did you have to go through to make this happen?

Jack Is Back!

Last week we received a letter from Jack van Ommen saying he is back in Cape Charles, VA, after a four-month stint in the Caribbean. We hear some of you thinking, “Who is Jack?” A quick search of the Latitude 38 archives will tell you that Jack is a unique individual with a more-than-average share of sailors’ tenacity and thirst for adventure.

Last time we wrote about Jack we had just added his name to our West Coast Circumnavigators list. Many solo sailors begin with a mission to sail around the world in record time. Starting at age 68, Jack’s goal was to sail ‘Around the World Before 80 Years’; the achievement was to be marked by completing the journey prior to his 80th birthday. As is common in sailing, all did not run to plan and Jack reached his destination just one month after his birthday. Nevertheless the journey that had spanned two decades, two sailboats and over 50 countries was a remarkable achievement.

Jack Van Ommen onboard the original Fleetwood 2013
Never one to stand still, Jack is pictured here aboard his original Fleetwood in the French canals just months before the vessel was splintered on the rocks.
© 2020 Jack Van Ommen

In November 2013, van Ommen was shipwrecked on the island of Tagomago, near Ibiza, after battling through three nights of stormy weather. His 30-ft Naja Fleetwood was reduced to flotsam while Jack scrambled ashore to safety carrying only his passport, wallet and laptop. Five months later Jack found another Naja 30 for sale, this time in our own Pacific Northwest. Despite needing work, the boat proved a worthwhile purchase and by the end of April was ready to be rechristened Fleetwood.

The new Fleetwood served Jack as faithfully as her predecessor until her unfortunate grounding on Mink Island, VA, in June 2017. Once again the sailor found himself ashore with no home. This time, however, van Ommen’s possessions did not float away on the tide, and two years later Fleetwood was renewed and ready to sail again. Since then, Jack has sailed to and from so many destinations we could spend the rest of the day listing them. Suffice it to say he’s been racking up the sea miles.

In March 2005 van Ommen departed Alameda on his original Fleetwood and sailed west around the Cape of Good Hope. And though we haven’t seen Jack on our shores for many years he remains one of Latitude’s sailing heroes.

Jack and his book 'Soloman'
Jack also keeps a blog, and is the author of two books: SoloMan, and The Mastmaker’s Daughter.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Richard

Want to know more about Jack and his two Fleetwoods? Type Jack van Ommen in the search function above and you’ll find plenty of tales about this saltiest of sailors.

Islander 36 Summer Sailstice Cruise

Even though it’s a pandemic year, that hasn’t prevented the Islander 36 Association from celebrating the 50th anniversary of this well-known San Francisco Bay sailboat. Ten family-crewed Islanders met under the western span of the Bay Bridge to take a tour of the San Francisco Bay to celebrate Summer Sailstice on June 20. The wind provided for a great (and fast) sail around Angel Island through Raccoon Strait and back under the eastern span of the Bay Bridge. A novel rule for the rally — and what should become de rigueur for future Sailstice rallies on the Bay — was a start line formed by the shadow of the west side of the Bay Bridge at high noon. A finish in the shadow of the eastern span of the Bay Bridge completed the symmetry.

Three Islanders with SF skyline in background
Beating up the Cityfront.
© 2020 Rick Van Mell

Winds ranged from 15 knots to 30-knot gusts, especially around Harding Rock and Angel Island. The wind continued through Raccoon Strait, as the I-36 fleet listened in to sailors from Corinthian Yacht Club on the VHF. The Bay was busy on Saturday — four tankers and a barge and pusher showed up on the tour. A big blue tanker steamed north, then a barge and pusher came southbound. Both caused four Islanders and two other cruising boats to get pushed toward the Angel Island shore and into the accelerated wind blasts coming around Point Blunt. Lots of fun sailing!

Kapai sailing past Angel island
Kapai sails east of Angel Island with a reef in.
© 2020 Rick Van Mell

The I-36 Association has members in 25 states, Canada, South Wales, US Virgin Islands, England and Australia. Those members were invited to be ‘virtual’ crew with the boats sailing on Summer Sailstice. A number of Association members took the invitation and joined in.

Zingara with Belvedere in the background
Zingara approaches Raccoon Strait.
© 2020 Rick Van Mell

It was a fun Summer Sailstice for 10 Islander 36 boats, all proudly flying the I-36 burgee and showing off how well this iconic boat handles the water and wind of the San Francisco Bay. One of the most fun aspects was that most boats contributed pictures and a paragraph about their experience, and we followed up with an after-race virtual cocktail hour via Zoom on Tuesday evening. Here’s a link to a web page for those who are interested: I-36 Summer Sailstice Rally.

Editor’s note: We profiled the Islander 36 class in the April and May issues of Latitude 38.

Consensus Reached on ‘Freedom’ Vessel Type

Latitude Nation — Last week we asked if anyone could tell us what vessel type is Freedom, the abandoned sailboat that was spotted drifting west of San Diego.

Thank you for all your replies! Once again you’ve demonstrated that sailors have a collective mind, and what one doesn’t know, another will.

While some readers mentioned the J/100 signature visible on the sail, the vessel itself did not fit the standard J style. And so the discussion continued…

The most agreed-upon answer was sent in by Skip Allan:

“I helped build this boat in ~1976. One of the two Gemini twins designed by Tom Wylie and built by Wylie Design Group in Alameda. Originally meant to be a SF Bay One Design class . . . but only two were built. Once made the cover of Wooden Boat magazine. Both boats were of late owned by John Sweeney and for sale.”

Skip later corrected himself saying the boat was “Not a Wylie Gemini Twin, but Peterson 30 ex-Scorpion,” with which others concurred.

Abandoned vessel Freedom adrift of San Diego
Freedom, as she was seen from the passing vessel US Flag PASHA HAWAII car carrier Jean Anne. Thanks to Hugh Vanderspek for this piece of information.
© 2020 USCG

In the meantime we also heard from Pillar Point local Kerry Davis who said she had taken the Freedom crew back out to their boat earlier in the day, prior to the abandonment. And yes, she was able to confirm the ‘harsh weather’ saying “it was blowing like stink.” Although Kerry currently spends most of her on-the-water time aboard a commercial fishing boat, she still has fond memories of her favorite way to cross beneath the Golden Gate Bridge — “on my buddy Skipper Peter McCormick’s sailboat, MacPac.”

Sailboat, Macpac
Kerry Davis’s favorite vessel for crossing under the Golden Gate Bridge — Peter McCormick’s MacPac.
© 2020 Kerry Davis


Racing Can Resume on San Francisco Bay
We were happy to get the notice below yesterday afternoon from Laura Muñoz of the Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay. The quick news is that racing is now allowed. But there are important details…