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July 10, 2020

Stanford Sailing To Lose Varsity Status

Two J105 sailboats with spinnakers showing Stanford and Cal logos
Although Stanford’s sailing team has had its budget cut, their heated rivalry with Cal is not going away.
© 2020 David Gonzales

Stanford University has announced that its intercollegiate sailing program will become a “club sport,” losing its varsity status after next year’s season.

One of the most successful college sailing programs on the West Coast, Stanford boasts four sailors who recently earned 2019-2020 All- American awards, including the winners of both male and female College Sailor of the Year honors. With Jack Parkin ’21 receiving the Everett B. Morris Trophy, awarded June 13 to the Marlow Ropes College Sailor of the Year, and Michelle Lahrkamp ’23 earning the Quantum Women’s Sailor of the Year award, this news is bitter indeed.

In an open letter to the Stanford community, administrators said that continuing to fund 36 athletic programs was “not sustainable” and that alternatives such as budget reductions and fundraising were “insufficient to meet the magnitude of the financial challenge before us.”

“In consultation with the Board of Trustees, we have made the decision to reduce the breadth of our athletics programs and staffing. Stanford will discontinue 11 of our varsity sports programs at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year: men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling. All of these teams will have the opportunity to compete in their upcoming 2020-21 seasons, should the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 allow it, before they are discontinued at the varsity level.

“This is heartbreaking news to share,” the administrators wrote. “These 11 programs consist of more than 240 incredible student-athletes and 22 dedicated coaches. They were built by more than 4,000 alumni whose contributions led to 20 national championships, 27 Olympic medals, and an untold number of academic and professional achievements….”

Stanford Sailing and the University of Hawaii are the only fully funded varsity schools in the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference, while the other 18 PCCSC schools only field club teams, typically without paid coaching. Previous reporting incorrectly indicated that Stanford Sailing would be discontinued, but the school is honoring all scholarships with athletes and contracts with coaches and staff for the coming year. The Cardinal team’s varsity swan song is a final season as one of a whopping 36 programs at Stanford.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a financial emergency for Stanford’s entire athletic program, as empty seats in football and basketball stadiums led to voluntary pay cuts and an overall ten percent budget reduction. Although Stanford Sailing’s previous coach was implicated last year in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal, this was not a factor in Wednesday’s announcement.

While this news is grim, we’re confident that there will still be a spirited nautical rivalry on San Francisco Bay between Cal and Stanford. This will include both student athletes and alumni, as before. We may also see an improvement in competitive balance and participation in local PCCSC regattas. So while we’re saddened by the diminished status of Stanford’s juggernaut sailing squad, we hope the change may create grassroots growth in regional college sailing.

You can find more information here:

Stanford Athletics varsity sport reductions: FAQ

You Can’t Mask the Pleasure of Sailing

Sailing is one of life’s greatest pleasures — don’t let something as simple as a mask stop you from doing what you love. Modern Sailing School & Club in Sausalito sent us photos of some of their staff, club members and students embracing pandemic regulations so they could spend a day on the water. Although the regulations mean you can’t go sailing with just anybody, the upside is that with fewer people on board students get more individual instruction.

Ready at the mast.
These three sailors look ready at the mask — oops, we mean “mast.” Left to right: Students Grant and Miranda prepare to take the ASA 101-103 Combination course with head instructor Capt. Bill Moreland. Grant and Miranda have been sailing almost every week since passing their ASA 103 with flying colors.
© 2020 Modern Sailing School & Club
Masked and ready to board
Senior instructor Capt. Stephen Spoja (far right) prepares to sail with students Carli and Mark, who plan to cruise the Caribbean as soon as it is safe to do so.
© 2020 Modern Sailing School & Club
David, Maggie and family at the helm.
David and Maggie took advantage of Modern Sailing’s full-day charter-only policy to take their family ‘bubble’ sailing on a Monday.
© 2020 Modern Sailing School & Club

The crew at Modern Sailing have been busy during these COVID times and are excited for the upcoming launch of their new webinar series, “Prepare to Take the Helm.” The three-lesson series has been created by the club’s team of instructors and will cover sailing and destinations across the entire Bay Area. You can find more information here:

Elsewhere in the Bay, youths who are participating in sailing summer camps have also been embracing the masks and participating within social bubbles.

St. Francis Yacht Club has restructured its usual summer camps and is now running two three-week ‘pods.’

“All briefings are being done outside and everyone has been wearing masks and washing hands regularly. So far it is going great and we are excited to get kids back out on the water!” says StFYC race coordinator Grace Carrick.

StFYC summer camp briefing
It’s not the usual look for a StFYC briefing, but at least they get to go sailing!
© 2020 St Francis Yacht Club

Meanwhile the youngsters at Call of the Sea’s summer camps are doing more than just sailing. They’re also building their own model schooners which will be displayed in a ‘boat show’ for the campers’ parents. We’ve been told there are still a couple of spaces available in the second or third camp sessions, beginning next week.

Masked youth holding model boat
This model boat looks almost big enough to carry its builder!
© 2020 Call of the Sea
Masked sailors at the helm
Masks are no problem for these young sailors.
© 2020 Call of the Sea

Are you a mask-wearing sailor? How are you finding the experience? Let us know in the comments below. And if you have photos to share, send them along to [email protected].

Passage Nautical ‘Anatomy of a Survey’ Webinar

No doubt experience can be the best teacher, but it’s not always the kindest. There are some things — like boat buying — where knowledge is definitely worth seeking out before learning through the sometimes costly trial and errors of experience.

If you’re considering purchasing a boat, join Passage Nautical webinars for valuable education and insight about how to get the most value for your money, and make the best choices for your long-term enjoyment.

Knowledge can keep the learning experience from costing you precious money and time, and can help you avoid making the wrong buying choice, which can have a big impact on your enjoyment and successful ownership.

Passage Webinar
Book in for your free education on best boat-buying practices.

Don’t miss Passage Nautical’s next free webinar, Anatomy of a Survey, on July 21.

For more information about Anatomy Of A Survey contact Javier Jerez at [email protected] or 201-486-1700.

Three Sailors Rescued from Capsized Vessel

The US Coast Guard reported that three people were rescued on Tuesday morning after their sailboat capsized near Treasure Island. Local fire and police departments and an unnamed good Samaritan helped with the rescue. It is unclear what type of sailboat was involved and why it capsized.

USCG rescues three from capsized vessel
If the capsized boat looks this small from the air, imagine how difficult it must be to see people in the water from such heights.
© 2020 Petty Officer 2nd Class Jordan Akiyama

According to the USCG press release, Coast Guard Sector San Francisco watchstanders had received a distress call from the good Samaritan aboard the vessel Sun Dance after their discovering the capsized boat and three people in the water.

Two Coast Guard Dolphin helicopters from Air Station San Francisco were diverted from nearby training exercises, while Coast Guard Station San Francisco sent a 45-foot response boat. San Francisco Fire Department and SF Police Department were also on hand to assist.

The Dolphin aircrews deployed a rescue swimmer, and the three mariners — who were in good shape and didn’t need medical attention — were taken aboard Sun Dance before being brought to Richmond Marina. The capsized vessel was towed to Clipper Cove Marina.

Capsized vessel being towed to port.
A capsized vessel would be difficult to tow. Thankfully our local department has the means to accomplish the task.
© 2020 San Francisco Fire Department Media

This is a good reminder that accidents can happen to anyone and at any unforeseen moment — a good reason to remain vigilant and be aware of your surroundings while on the water.

Thanks to all involved for a successful rescue.

Old Nautical Charts Become Works of Art

When NOAA decided to ‘sunset’ paper nautical charts and transition to electronic charts, many sailors wondered what to do with their old charts. Recycle them? Use them to wrap gifts? Make a table top? But for Richmond-based artist and sailor Denise Kramer the choice was easy — paint on them.

Painted over old Bay Area chart
It’s not often we see such beauty on a nautical chart.
© 2020 John Skoriak

While a recent transplant to the Bay Area from the East Coast, Denise has been an artist for many years. Her impressive résumé includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Atlanta College of Art and a Master of Arts from the City University of New York.

But it wasn’t until 2014, when she met and married her husband Chris Kramer, an avid sailor and racer, that she decided to combine sailing with her love of art.

“Sailboats in motion became my focus after I met my husband, Chris, and started racing with him. Between tacks is where I find my inspiration.”

Denise Kramer stands by her painting, holding her cat.
Is the cat an artist too? Denise Kramer clearly enjoys her work.
© 2020 John Skoriak

Before moving to the Bay Area for Chris’s work in the tech industry, the couple had spent plenty of time ‘between tacks’ on sailboats. They lived, worked and sailed in Rye, NY, and their ‘home waters’ were Long Island Sound and Narragansett Bay. They flew the burgees of the American Yacht Club and the prestigious New York Yacht Club. And being competitive sailors, their boat was a Columbia Carbon 32, Six Brothers. When it came time to choose an ideal place to relocate and sail in the Bay Area, Richmond Yacht Club (RYC) was at the top of the list.

As RYC members Denise and Chris jumped right into the local sailing scene. Since their arrival in 2016, they have raced Six Brothers on the Bay, the ocean, and offshore in the California Offshore Race Week. They’ve also competed in many OYRA, YRA and SSS races around the Bay and offshore including the Farallones and Duxship races and Pac Cup 2018.

Dividing her time between the helm and her studio overlooking the yacht club, Denise paints beautiful scenes of places they’ve sailed with family and friends, including the California coast, San Francisco Bay, Hawaii, Narragansett Bay, and Long Island Sound. The scenes are all painted on NOAA nautical charts. Not surprisingly, she calls it “sailing art.”

Sailboats on Hawiian Islands chart
Imagine this framed piece of art hanging on your wall!
© 2020 John Skoriak

Recently Denise and Chris decided to trade their high-tech Columbia Carbon for an equally competitive but less crew-intensive Alerion 28, Sweet De. But Denise claims they still manage to sail it at least twice a week.

And to round out the family fleet, they also bought a Melges 26 power boat that Denise says she loves “to explore on” when she is not painting. But the Melges has not yet been painted on a NOAA chart, as sailboats in action in every size, color and event still dominate Denise’s art.

Denise with Long Island Sound, chart painting
As well as being works of art, Denise’s paintings represent many of her own sailing adventures.
© 2020 Denise Kramer

This is surely just a small sample of Denise’s work. If you’d like to know more, you can check out her website at

Sailing and art are two fantastic pastimes, and to be able to combine them must be a wonderful feeling. Have you managed to blend your enthusiasm for sailing with another passion? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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