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May 3, 2021

Racing Returns to St. Francis Yacht Club

“It’s so great to have some racing going on at the St Francis again!” says photographer Chris Ray, a member and volunteer at St. Francis Yacht Club. Racing shut down at the Cityfront club in March 2020 and resumed on April 22, 2021, with Thursday Night Kites (Johnny Heineken is leading the series after three races), followed by an Intraclub pursuit race on April 24 (John Buestad’s Knarr Alinea topped the 20-boat fleet). Then, on April 28, the club’s Wednesday Evening Series began, with racing for three fleets.

J/22 start
The J/22 start. See more photos here. Bruce Stone, Nicole Breault, Maggie Bacon and Laura Levy won Race 1. “There were some Juniors teams among the J/22s,” says Chris. Breault, by the way, ranks #3 in the world among women match racers — and #1 in the US. In open rankings (male and female), she’s #7 in the US and #39 in the world.
© 2021 Chris Ray
Knarr start
Knarr start. See more photos here. Randy Hecht’s Niuhi won Race 1. It was a ‘sporty’ evening for beer can racing.
© 2021 Chris Ray
Folkboat start
Folkboat start.  See more photos here. Eric Kaiser, Kurt Hemmingsen and Andy Hale won Race 1.
© 2021 Chris Ray

The Wednesday Evening Series continues each week through August 25. StFYC followed up on May 1-2 with a US Match Race Qualifier, also sailed in the club’s J/22s.

Drone shot of J/22s match racing
Match racing on Saturday, May 1. Seven invited teams competed. Oliver Toole and his crew of Kelly Toole, Jack Ortell and Craig Healey won the regatta.
© 2021 Chris Ray

Next up for the club is the Elvstrom Zellerbach for invited one-design dinghy classes. See for more info about racing and other goings-on at StFYC.

race committee on the wharf
The race committee for the USMRC Qualifier.
© 2021 Chris Ray

Trending Now on the Bay: Building Small Wooden Boats

In this month’s issue Latitude 38 shared the story of small wooden boats that have been, and are currently being, built on the Bay: “… so many, in fact, that it appears to be a growing trend.

Since sending the May magazine to the printers, we’ve received updates from a couple of the boat builders whom we mentioned in the story. At the time of going to press, Nate Spencer-Monk and his two sons had almost completed building a Nathanael Herreshoff-designed Biscayne Bay 14. Three years after commencing the build in their Berkeley garage, the newly christened Anemone was finally ready for her maiden voyage.

“We launched at Richmond Yacht Club around 3 p.m.,” Nate wrote. “I was greatly relieved that there was no leaking! I wasn’t much worried about the hull, but I thought the centerboard trunk might weep a little.”

“Winds were eight knots from the south and dropping. The boat sailed very nicely. The helm was light and responsive.”
© 2021 Nate Spencer-Monk

“It was a bit of a squeeze to get us all in, but it was fun, and we beat out to the RYC/Brickyard Cove breakwater on the dying breeze and ghosted back in. The big mainsail is great for that sort of thing, and the boomed jib is easy to wing out.”

“The boys and I tacked past the RYC docks and into the Richmond Reach a bit. Then we went back and got Mom and the pup.”
© 2021 Nate Spencer-Monk

“The pup loved his first time onboard (no big surprise; he has been very stoked every time he’s been by water), but then again he is named “Aubrey” for Captain Jack Aubrey of the Patrick O’Brian novels — it would have been a great disappointment if he didn’t take to the sea!”

We also received an update from Spaulding Marine Center, which is working with a team of volunteers to build six San Francisco Bay Pelicans that they will use for youth and community sailing programs.

“Our in-house designer Jeff Lutz spent a considerable number of hours digitizing the plans for CNC cutting, and designing the whole process so that they can be built like a kit, including a cradle that they’re built in.”

The boats are coming along nicely, and Spaulding’s education director, Jay Grant, sent us this fun little time-lapse video of the team’s progress.

You can read the full story at Latitude 38 online, or pick up a copy of the magazine from your local distributor.

Welcome the Pioneering ‘Energy Observer’ Project Under the Golden Gate

Andrea Geisinger, who works at SF Water Taxi and sails aboard Rägeboge, a Hallberg-Rassy 38 with a homeport of Basel, Switzerland, but berthed at RYC, alerted us to a unique craft that will be sailing in under the Golden Gate Bridge this week.

The Energy Observer is a wind-/solar-/hydrogen-powered vessel conceived and launched in France in 2017, and has sailed 10,000 miles in 2020. She’s on her way up the coast, sailing from Long Beach this week, with the hope of arriving in San Francisco Bay on Thursday, May 6. Currently, she’s in Morro Bay awaiting a favorable weather window.

Energy Observer is coming to the Bay as part of her world tour to showcase the electro-hydrogen hybridization at the heart of her propulsion system. It is a demonstration project showing and developing electro-hydrogen hybridization for a decarbonized future in maritime mobility and more.

Energy Observer
Energy Observer under way.
© 2021 Energy Observer

We spoke to Mary Miller at the Exploratorium, where the boat will dock between Piers 9 and 15 for several days. The Energy Observer team is bringing their innovative developments to the doorstep of San Francisco’s high-tech hub. Mary explained that because of the Exploratorium’s location in the Port of San Francisco, they are frequent hosts to world-ranging research vessels and other out-of-town visitors. As a cutting-edge energy development platform, the Energy Observer is an ideal project to rest alongside the Exploratorium, which is described as a “community museum dedicated to awareness.”

This video showcases much of the Energy Observer’s pioneering innovations.

We described the return of windships in our April 2019 issue, showcasing the numerous ways sailing has always been part of developing the creative alignment of nature’s forces to explore and enhance our world. Energy Observer is described as “self-sufficient in energy, with zero emissions, zero fine particles, zero noise, as well as being a symbol of our awareness-raising and our ambitions at the service of ecological transition.”

Maltese Falcon
Tom Perkins’s Maltese Falcon was one of many pioneering developmental sailboats created by Bay Area technology leaders.
© 2021 Richard Spindler

Assuming the hoped-for weather window arrives, you should be able to sail or walk by Energy Observer, docked at Pier 15 next weekend. You can follow her progress up the coast here.

More on this story appeared in our June 2021 issue.

Having a Whale of a Time on a Saturday

A few weeks ago, captain Teddy Strawser and the crew aboard the Catalina 42 MkII Janie Jones were enjoying a Saturday sail on the Bay when they spotted whales. Three gray whales inside of Alcatraz and another just outside the Gate.

Fortunately one of the crew, Alex Houlton, was quick with the camera and managed to capture some video of the magnificent creatures. Alex put together this montage.

When he’s not sailing with whales, Teddy, who is a member of Sausalito Yacht Club, sails the Central Bay, and makes yearly trips into the Delta.

Have you spotted any whales recently? We’d love to see your photos if you have any. Send them to [email protected] for inclusion in next month’s Sailagram.

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