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June 21, 2021

Breeze-on Start for Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race

In the midst of a heat wave, the 2021 Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race started in fog and wind on Saturday, June 19.

Siren with reef in main
With reefed main and partially furled genoa, Brendan Huffman’s Los Angeles-based Santa Cruz 33 Siren sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge en route to Hawaii.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Although the ‘Richmond Riviera’ weather lived up to the name, just a few miles away the Slot and the Gate dished out plenty of overcast, chilly breeze and ebb chop. Many of the boats exited the Bay with shortened mains and smaller or partially furled headsails. Skip Allan had given the weather briefing at the skippers’ meeting and indicated that they might find light air for a time outside the Gate, that no tropical storms were developing, and that the Pacific High was well positioned to the north and should not stand in the way of the fleet’s progress toward Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Kauai.

Wood dodger
On Friday evening, John Wilkerson showed us his home-built dodger on Perplexity. He made it from U-Ply flooring because it’s light and cheap. He says there are about 14 Express 37s in the Pacific Northwest.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The fleet has three weeks to get there; the deadline and awards ceremony will be on Saturday, July 10. Another pandemic adjustment: None of the facilities on Kauai were able to commit to hosting such a large gathering, so the final celebration may end up being a more casual beach party.

Cliff Shaw has the multihull trophy all locked up, as long as he finishes within the time limit. He’s sailing the Crowther 10M catamaran Rainbow in his third SHTP. He was perhaps the most relaxed of the skippers we visited on Saturday morning.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The race had been postponed a year due to the difficulty of travel during the pandemic last year. Many adjustments due to COVID continued this year. For instance, the skippers from British Columbia were unable to go. The initial list of entries whittled down from 23 to the final count of 11, all Americans, all men, and almost all monohulls.

11 solo skippers with yellow Latitude hats
The 2021 solo skippers. Back row, left to right: Falk Meissner, Kyle Vanderspek, Reed Bernhardt, Jim Quanci, John Wilkerson, Cliff Shaw, Brendan Huffman. Front row: Will Lee, Robb Walker, Bill Stange, James Wylly. Latitude 38 gave each of them a hat.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Another change: Instead of sequestering and starting off Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon, the fleet started off Golden Gate YC in San Francisco. Richmond YC hosted the skippers’ meeting and Aloha Luncheon on Friday, June 18. And they welcomed the out-of-town boats to stay in their harbor. Four came from the Seattle area and two from Southern California.

Northern Star leaves RYC
James Wylly backs Sabre 426 Northern Star out of RYC’s C Dock on Saturday morning.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Hula, Westsail 32
The Washington-based Westsail 32 Hula departs RYC on Saturday morning. Bill Stange is doing his second SHTP. He won his first, in 1988, aboard a slightly different sort of boat — an Olson 30.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

As of this morning, the tracker on Jibeset shows good progress to the west. John Wilkerson’s Express 37 Perplexity is the farthest north, Cliff Shaw’s Crowther 10M catamaran Rainbow is farthest south, and Reed Bernhardt’s J/109 Mountain appears to have the lead.

Sailing out the Gate on jib only does not appear to have hurt Mountain in the standings.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Jim Quanci on the Cal 40 Green Buffalo reported yesterday that he’d “been popping Bonine twice a day so feeling good — but that may say more about the modest sea state. I try to hold off for ‘real food’ to Day 3 when I know seasickness will have passed.” He also reported warming temperatures despite continued overcast.

Robb, Jim and Mary
Before leaving their side-by-side slips at RYC, Cal 40 sailors Robb Walker and Jim Quanci posed for one last picture. Jim’s wife, Mary Lovely, is snapping the shot on her phone.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Will Lee on the beautiful red Hinckley 42 Sea Wisdom reported 20-25 knots at the start. He reefed his main. “The initial passage was a wet one. I had water coming in through the closed hatches. I saw that the bilge light was on. But the bilge pump was not pumping any water. The bilge pump was relatively new. Good thing that I carried the old bilge pump as a spare. There is no way I would want to keep sailing if there is no electric bilge pump. Changing the bilge pump at sea at the Farallones was not an easy task because I haven’t gotten my sea legs yet. The pump was buried deep in the boat. I had to do some acrobatic moves to replace it.” It took Will three hours to do the replacement.

The Lee family
Will Lee with his wife Chloe and daughter Allison at the Aloha Luncheon on Friday.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

For more posts from the racers, see the Singlehanded Sailing Society forum. Learn more about the fleet in the June issue of Latitude 38, and also see

Vessel Abandoned off Crescent City after USCG Rescue

We received word from delivery skipper Arnstein Mustad, who is on a delivery north to Seattle, that the USCG was broadcasting a security alert to mariners regarding an abandoned sailboat drifting approximately 100nm west of Crescent City, CA. At 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, June 19, USCG Sector Humboldt Bay watchstanders received a VHF distress call from the crew of the 79-ft sailboat, Barlovento. The crew reported that their boat was disabled, taking on water, and that one crewmember had sustained a head and arm injury. The boat was around 80 miles offshore in approximately 60 mph winds and 20-ft seas.

The rescue was enacted by a Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and a Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento C-27J Spartan fixed-wing crew providing air support.

According to the USCG, the Dolphin crew arrived on the scene and hoisted the injured person from the Barlovento and transported the person to local emergency medical services personnel at USCG Sector Humboldt Bay.

The Dolphin crew then returned to the scene and hoisted three more people from the Barlovento. The Air Station North Bend Dolphin crew arrived on scene and hoisted the remaining two people.

Lt. Ryan O’Neill, a Dolphin aircraft commander at Sector Humboldt Bay, said, “This case was a great example of a successful, multi-unit effort and highlights the importance of standardized procedures. The careful coordination between the two helicopters with support from the C-27 allowed us to save all six sailors.”

Sector Humboldt Bay watchstanders have issued a broadcast to mariners regarding the abandoned Barlovento and requested that mariners transit the area with caution.

USCG Pacific Southwest shared this video on its Twitter page:


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Batter Up for Baja Ha-Ha XXVII

Holy smokes, it’s only four and a half months to the start of Baja Ha-Ha XXVII! That means it’s only a little bit longer until the grand Cruisers versus Turtle Bay Kids baseball game.

The Cruisers versus Kids game is played the way baseball always should have been played — nonstop action, women and children rarely ever getting called out, and parties in the outfield. There were so many people in the on-deck circle it had to become a 50-person-long line. The Grand Poobah has faced over 7,899 batters over the years, and still hasn’t struck one out. So he’s working on a behind-the-back knuckler.

Will the Poobah’s knuckler thwart this batter’s home run?
© 2021 Fin Bevin

One of the beauties of the game is that it’s played in Ha-Ha Stadium, home to the only green you’ll see along the entire coast of Baja. It’s AstroTurf, but so what?

Baja Ha-Ha XXVII
The Baja Ha-Ha has its own ballpark. How cool is that?
© 2021 Fin Bevin

The Grand Poobah has a favor to ask of every entrant: If you can, please bring along a bit of baseball equipment that we can leave behind for the kids. It can be anything, and it doesn’t have to be new. In some years we’ve been able to pass out thousands of dollars’ worth of gear, including pitching machines, bats, balls, gloves, hats … anything and everything is appreciated.

After the game we line the kids up; young ladies, some of whom are under 5, are first to choose what they want. One year the first little girl, having her choice of some fabulous new and in some cases expensive gear, chose a pair of socks. It was really cute.

The smile speaks volumes — this game is fun!
© 2021 Fin Bevin

With Mark and Carli McKinney signing up their San Jose-based Privilege 49 catamaran Arkouda just the other day, we’re now up to 134 entries. Assistant Poobah Patsy ‘La Reina del Mar’ reports that entries are running about 30 ahead of previous years, so we’ll be having a healthy fleet.

If you’re interesting in learning more about the Ha-Ha, or signing up, visit We sure hope to be sailing south with you.

(To the best of our knowledge, all photos in this post were taken by Fin Bevin.)

Summer Sailing Starts with Classic San Francisco Bay Breeze

Summer Sailstice weekend was a San Francisco Bay classic with summer fog and big breeze in the Central Bay but calm, warm conditions if you were hiding behind Angel Island or Tiburon. The three-day Lipton Cup, YRA Summer Series #3, the start of the Singlehanded TransPac and the St. Francis Yacht Club Opti Heavy Weather Regatta were all held this weekend, adding a competitive rush to the already challenging days.

Sailing San Francisco Bay
For cruisers, the Bay is not where you go to relax. But if you’ve got to give yourself a challenge, big breeze, fog and looming ships all add to the adventure.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Small sails on the Bay
If you reef correctly, a 25-30-knot daysail can be reasonable.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
furled up
Even small scraps of sails didn’t mean sailing on the level.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
reefed down
It was impressive how many boats were out in the breeze, and reefed down enough to be in control and enjoy a sporty day on the Bay.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
shortened sail
This is where you get boat and mind ready for the assault on the Bay. Reef in the calm then head out and hang on.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Despite the battles the big boats had with their day on the Bay, we are always reminded it’s not the size of the boat that matters but the skills of the sailor. There’s no better way to understand this than when you look up from managing your reefed-down, rail-down boat in the blow to find a fleet of 10-15-year-old kids frolicking in the breeze in their 8-ft Optimists. The blustery conditions for the big boats were energizing and fun for the St. Francis YC Opti Heavy Weather Regatta fleet that was sailing eight races over two days, right along the breezy, choppy Cityfront.

Opti Heavy Weather Regatta
The Opti fleet reveled in the breeze.
© 2021 Chris Ray
Breeze on
Best playground any kid could ever want. Same day, same Bay as the big boats, but a very different experience.
© 2021 Chris Ray

Other parts of the Bay are warm and calm, but the Central Bay is where the action is. Fortunately, the choice is yours. You can find the calm spots on the Bay, or sail early, or later, when the wind settles down. The Bay has an amazing variety of conditions on the same day depending on the time or place you choose to sail. Choose carefully, adjust sails accordingly, and enjoy the summer.