In October 1983, Latitude 38 published a ‘Boat of the Month’ story on the already well-established Santa Cruz 27. Now, 37 years later, we decided that it was time for an update. The boats haven’t changed much, but the class has new owners and new energy, contributing to the continuation of Bill Lee’s “Fast Is Fun” ethos. One of the new owners, Ros de Vries, brings us the update.
When it comes to talk of popular one-design racing boats on the West Coast, there are certainly standout favorites. Yes, there’s the scrappy Santana 22 fleet. There are the Express 27s and the Olsons and the J/24s. But from Columbia Gorge to San Pedro, no one class gets the reaction of, “Hey, that’s a cool boat!” as reliably as the Santa Cruz 27.
Bill Lee’s most prolific ultralight displacement boat (ULDB) design is known for its ease of handling, high performance in both light and heavy winds, trailerability, and, well, ability to outrun and outlast. Boats that were produced near the beginning of the SC27’s production run (c. 1974) are still thundering along today; nearly 50 years on, it’s still a competitive boat, or more pointedly, one to “get you back to the bar first,” as original client Martin Roe stated in his design requirements to Lee.
Beyond the buoy racing scene, the Santa Cruz 27 has demonstrated that its lightweight 3,000-lb design can still take a real beating. Born and still at large in Monterey Bay, it’s an ocean boat at heart. This was stressed to me by John Simpson, who completed the Singlehanded Transpacific Race in 2018 on his SC27 Crazy Rhythm. The race to the finish line pitted him against a Hylas 42, a boat that in all respects apart from speed is almost the SC27’s opposite. Imagine the SC27’s scrappy David, sailing toe-to-toe against the Hylas’s Goliath, which boasts almost three times the displacement, three times the sail area, and certainly many more comforts than you could cram beneath the SC27’s 4-odd feet of headroom. And with a well-maintained SC27 selling for around the $13,000 mark, there’s something to be said for a capable bluewater boat that costs one tenth as much as its closest competitor in a race to Hawaii.
The accessibility of the Santa Cruz 27 has given it staying power, across both decades and generations. First, there’s real bang for your buck. As Evan Diola, the defending SC27 national champion, said: “The Santa Cruz 27 has a great look to her. It holds crew comfortably and does great with its big sail area when PHRF racing. It’s a bit harder to handle than a Moore 24, and you get a little more beat up, but that makes you strong!”
Bill Lee was 26 when he designed the SC27, and “Fast Is Fun” certainly describes the youthful exuberance of his designs.
Read the rest of Ros’s story in Latitude 38‘s September edition. Plus, stay tuned to next’s week’s ‘Lectronic Latitude for a full report (and photos) of the 2020 SC27 National Championship held in Santa Cruz last weekend.
Local sailor Martin Kratz was spending the weekend sailing with friends around Catalina Island last month when they accidentally caught up with Beneteau’s annual Two Harbors Rendezvous. Fortunately, the party crashers were also aboard a Beneteau — Martin’s 473 Soirée.
The relaxed nature of the weekend is evidenced by this great set of photos Martin sent us:
Martin is no stranger to Latitude 38. In next month’s magazine we’re featuring a story Martin wrote about his and wife Carol’s participation in the 2016 Baja Ha-Ha.
There are plenty of metaphors and clichés. “It’s darkest before the dawn.” “It ain’t over until it’s over.” “I got this.” Maybe Elton John’s song Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me says it best for the Stars + Stripes saga. The Long Beach Yacht Club-flagged team and syndicate have done everything in their power to stay in the 36th America’s Cup, but whether they are ready to admit it or not, it’s over.
Whether it’s the discarded pieces or the shell of a boat outside the team’s build shed in Holland, Michigan, or the America’s Cup Arbitration Panel’s death blow a month ago, it should never have come to this. What started out almost two years ago — and yes they were a bit late — with so much promise has come to an unfortunate, yet unfortunately predictable, end.
Stars + Stripes is led by Mike Buckley and Taylor Canfield. Canfield is on everyone’s short list as one of the best match racers in the world.
The team wrote in its filing that: “The Arbitration Panel’s decision in this matter will have direct and immediate implications and could determine the Applicant’s continued participation in the remaining events.”
The actual case was a reach to begin with because one of the oldest precepts in the America’s Cup and the Deed of Gift is that the “constructed in country” clause is basically nonnegotiable. Emirates Team New Zealand had hoped to get a much-needed cash infusion by allowing Stars + Stripes to compete in the Challenger Series for the Prada Cup with their first AC75, Te Aihe.
Obviously, the Kiwi boat was built in New Zealand and the Arbitration Panel gave the West Coasters thumbs down.
As have other media outlets and publications, we have reached out for comment from S+S, but for the most part, their silence is not golden. If they believe it’s going to come down to a miracle, there aren’t any. The only hope is a boat that is actually finished and on its way to Auckland soon, or that American Magic is willing to sell their first boat, Defiant, to the team.
That ain’t going to happen. One, the boat isn’t built, let alone on the water. Two, American Magic doesn’t need the cash. Three, why would any of the challengers want the additional competition? They don’t. This isn’t the classic East Coast vs. West Coast America’s Cup Defense or Challenge drama. It could have been, but we are way past that now by more than a year or two.
Some solid sponsors have come and gone. The team got a bit of a COVID-19 pass when the 2020 America’s Cup World Series events in Cagliari and Portsmouth were canceled, and whether they have paid required fees to date or not, all that is conjecture because if they do not show up and sail in the ACWS event in Auckland on December 17-20 or the Christmas Regatta shortly thereafter, they are out.
We hope that they will publicly pull the plug before then and officially withdraw. Not just for their sake, but for the prestigious Long Beach Yacht Club, through which their challenge was entered and accepted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Also, for their historic connection with Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes team, legendary in past America’s Cup exploits.
It is time to say “Sayonara.”
Smoke, not COVID-19, Postponed These Regattas
With “Very Unhealthy” air quality throughout the Bay Area and indeed most of the West last weekend, race organizers postponed several events. The YRA’s Encinal Regatta had already been postponed from July 25-26 to September 12 (and made a doublehanded event). Now the new date is October 10, a conflict with YRA’s Great Vallejo Race.
Planned for the Sunday after the Encinal Race, the multi-club Estuary Extravaganza has moved from September 13 to October 11 due to the smoke.
On Friday, we received the following notice from the Singlehanded Sailing Society: “The SSS Half Moon Bay Race scheduled for Saturday, September 12, is postponed due to hazardous air quality conditions. While we are generally inclined to allow individual racers to make go/no decisions based on their own risk tolerance, we believe that this is now a public health/welfare issue. As an organization, the SSS cannot sanction a two-day outdoor activity that demonstrably endangers people’s health.” Several racers had already indicated that they wouldn’t race due to the bad air quality.
Later this week, the SSS announced: “We are rescheduling the 2020 Half Moon Bay race for Saturday, September 26. There will be no major changes to the race format or Sailing Instructions. The first start will be at 10 a.m. off the Golden Gate YC. Racers who registered for the September 12th race will not be required to re-register. Registration will be opened on Jibeset for additional entrants. If you registered for the September 12th race and do not wish to register for the September 26th rescheduled race, please email the RC at email@example.com. There will be a Zoom skippers’ meeting on Thursday, September 24, at 7:30 p.m. We anticipate some level of access to the Half Moon Bay Yacht Club outdoor facilities on that Saturday night.”
“Fellow racers, as I am writing this the sun is starting to peek through the dark ash clouds a bit, but I guess it’s time to stop holding on to hope,” wrote Sequoia YC’s Anja Bog on Saturday the 12th. “A few of you have already commented that you don’t want to be out there in the unhealthy air. The forecasts agree that there’s going to be no significant change with the air pollution staying around unhealthy levels, so with sadness I’m cancelling Quarantine Cup Race #5.” That installment in the club’s new series had been scheduled for Sunday. October 11 is the next Quarantine Cup race date.
Paul Kamen from Berkeley YC let us know yesterday that “We started Friday night races two weeks ago, but then canceled due to air quality. We might try again tomorrow.” (That would now be today.)
The first race of San Francisco YC’s Fall Fiasco Series, on September 12, was canceled due to air quality. But read on for more about that new series and other SFYC regattas.
But COVID-19 Prompted These Regatta Cancellations
- SFYC canceled the Fall Classic/Easom Founders Trophy, scheduled for the weekend of October 3-4. The regatta had invited the Etchells, S.F. Bay IOD, Knarr, Folkboat, Bear and Bird fleets.
- South Beach YC canceled their women’s Red Bra Regatta, scheduled for October 17.
- St. Francis YC canceled October 17’s Jessica Cup wooden boat regatta and October 24-25’s Fall Dinghy Regatta.
- Also off the calendar is Berkeley YC’s Oktoberfest, which had been planned for October 17-18.
Blue Skies (Metaphorical, at Least) Ahead
Last Friday, Corinthian YC wrote, “This smoke is forbidding, casting a literal pall over an already depressed Bay Area. So what do we do? Plan to sail on alternate Saturdays. Short crews, local courses.” The CYC Fall Series starts tomorrow, September 19, and runs every other Saturday through November.
Skippers can select:
- Long courses for PHRF, Non-Spinnaker and Doublehanded divisions, with one race planned each day; or
- Short courses for PHRF and One Design divisions, with shorter windward/leeward courses and two races planned each day.
Neighboring SFYC’s Fall Fiasco Series, on alternating Saturdays through the end of October, will start on September 26. SFYC has also announced dates for the Perkins Challenge and Leukemia Cup. Those regattas had been scheduled for October 17-18; now they’ll be held on May 15-16, 2021. Plus, they’ve selected October 3 as the new date for the 2020 Midnight Moonlight Maritime Marathon that had been scheduled for late June.
Berkeley YC has added the S.I.P. Escape — a Make-Up Race to the schedule for October 3.
Oakland YC will hold their Oktoberfest regatta on October 17, but will keep the racing in the Estuary.
Richmond YC has extended their beer can series into October. “Your PRO Eric Arens has requested additional beer can dates for October; this will require new starting times for all fleets,” says race chair Fred Paxton. “Effectively, all start times are moved back one hour [in October]. Reminder on the Racing Rules of Sailing: It is the skipper’s responsibility to decide to sail or not. The sun goes down early in October, so make sure your running lights are good to go.” The club runs super-casual races every Wednesday night.
RYC’s usually epic Great Pumpkin Regatta will consist of a pursuit race on Saturday, October 24, only. They’ll hand out prizes on the water at the finish. Costumes and pumpkin hunting will be included, but there won’t be a post-race party.
We’ll post a more extensive preview of October races here in ‘Lectronic Latitude later this month.