The deadline to enter the YRA Encinal Regatta is today; the race will head out to Point Bonita on Saturday and sail down the Estuary to the finish off Encinal Yacht Club, where the fleet will be feted with a post-race party — kind of like the good ol’ days. On Sunday, EYC and its neighbors Oakland YC and Island YC will run an Estuary Extravaganza of three races. Find registration for both events on Jibeset.net.
This Saturday is also the deadline to register for St. Francis YC’s Rolex Big Boat Series to avoid a $200 late fee. As of this writing, 68 boats are entered to compete in the regatta on September 15-19. All one-design classes must have six boats to compete, with 15 boats required to constitute a class for J/70s.
Farther north, the Columbia Gorge Racing Association will host the C-GOD regatta and 5O5 North Americans this weekend.
Fully into August
What could be more fun than a fleet of dinghies sailing 30 miles up the Sacramento River Deep Water Ship Channel in a pursuit race from Rio Vista to West Sacramento? Probably not much. The West Sacramento-based Lake Washington Sailing Club will run the regatta on August 7. Update on August 8: After posting this story we received word that LWSC has canceled the Delta Dinghy Ditch.
On Sunday the 8th, Santa Cruz YC’s benefit regatta, Big Brothers Big Sisters Day, will sail on Monterey Bay.
The US Open Sailing Series will come to San Francisco Bay on August 12-15. StFYC, SFYC, Richmond YC and Treasure Island Sailing Club will all participate as hosts.
Gracie drives in EYC’s doublehanded Gracie & George race on Sunday, August 15.
Later in August
On Friday, August 20, StFYC’s Aldo Alessio will sail out to the ocean. The Phyllis Kleinman Swiftsure Regatta will take place on August 21-22, and both events will serve as the Santa Cruz 27 Nationals.
It’s an unusual time of year for the Great Vallejo Race, but then 2021’s been an unusual year. Registration is open for the race to Vallejo YC on Saturday and return to Richmond YC on Sunday. The YRA offers one-design, spinnaker, non-spinnaker, sportboat, multihull and cruising divisions. Entries will close on August 18.
Sausalito YC offers their Women Skippers Regatta on August 21.
Final Week of the Month
On Thursday evening, August 26, hydrofoil kites, hydrofoil windsurfers and formula windsurfers will run from Bridge to Bridge (Golden Gate to Bay). StFYC hosts.
It’s back to Stillwater YC in Pebble Beach on August 27-29, this time for the Mercury Class Nationals.
Bay View Boat Club’s Plastic Classic, for ‘plastic’ boats designed 25 years ago or earlier, will return — after last year’s hiatus — on August 28.
Two-day weekend events on August 28-29 include the OYRA and SSS Drake’s Bay Regatta, California Dreamin’ match-racing invitational at StFYC, the Pinecrest Regatta for El Toros, and the Millimeter Nationals hosted by EYC on the Estuary.
Ventura is the location for a new $53 million Coast Guard air station, which will be built at a naval base in Point Mugu. Currently the Point Mugu Forward Operating Base (FOB) operates out of leased space at the Naval Base Ventura County, with 13 permanent service members and approximately 11 rotating crewmembers from San Francisco, flying two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters. A groundbreaking ceremony held on Tuesday marked the beginning of construction.
The new facility, which is expected to open in August 2023, will include a 48,000-square-foot hangar and a 12,200-square-foot administration and berthing facility to house four MH-65 Dolphin helicopters and 82 personnel.
“We’re excited to break ground to re-establish a permanent air station,” said Vice Adm. Michael F. McAllister, commander US Coast Guard Pacific Area. “The new air station in Ventura will enhance critical mission capabilities, allowing us to better serve this critical area.”
The air station’s area of responsibility covers 350 nautical miles stretching from Dana Point to Morro Bay and including the Channel Islands. Its missions include 24/7 emergency response, search and rescue, drug and migrant interdiction, law enforcement, and marine and waterways conservation and protection.
Division of Boating and Waterway’s “Pumpout Nav” is a free iOS and Android mobile app that shows you where the nearest sewage pumpout, dump station and floating restrooms are located.
As this year’s Baja Ha-Ha draws slowly nearer, we receive reminders and various pieces of information that are essential to sailors embarking on this fun voyage. And regardless of whether you’re joining this cruising rally for the first time or the 20th, it’s always helpful to keep abreast of the news.
First of all, did your Baja Ha-Ha packet of goodies arrive? They were sent out a couple of weeks ago, so hopefully you now have your 2021 Ha-Ha flag and information.
Next is a rundown of the various berthing and anchoring options from San Diego through to Cabo. The Grand Poobah and Ha-Ha crew (a good name for a band?) have gathered a lot of information about the various marinas such as slip reservations, costs, availability and length of stay, as well as details on nearby anchorages. As there’s far too much information for us to include it all here, you can jump over to the Ha-Ha website and read through everything there. The page includes links and phone numbers, so make sure you check it out.
The last piece of news we have for you today is that the Mexico seminars, concurrent with the fall Latitude 38 crew list party, are back! We recently announced the party will be held on September 9 at the Bay Model in Sausalito. As usual, we’re planning an informative seminar on cruising in Mexico to be held in the afternoon from 4:30 to 5:45, ahead of the evening’s frivolities. Baja Ha-Ha sailors are encouraged to attend this event as they’ll hear from Dick Markie of Paradise Village Marina and Geronimo Cevallos of Marina El Cid. In addition, many Baja Ha-Ha sponsors will be attending the party to help cruisers prepare for their voyage south — even those who aren’t sailing with the Ha-Ha rally.
To make sure you get a seat for the seminar, book early, like now, as seminar attendance will be limited. Plus the crew party, which is normally $10, is free to captains and first mates who are signed up for the Baja Ha-Ha. Book your ticket here.
A month after Greg Mueller died while racing in the Pacific Northwest Race Week, the event released this statement:
Four weeks ago today, a man fell overboard during Race 2 at Race Week, and sadly didn’t survive. His name was Gregory Paul Mueller, and he was new to the crew of the J/120 with Grace. Despite the work of many who responded to the incident, Gregory never regained consciousness, and was pronounced dead on the shores of Guemes Island.
I haven’t talked publicly about the man overboard (MOB) accident, aside from a press release that I released shortly after the incident occurred. It has been a difficult event to process, and I believe that allowing for some time of reflection was necessary as a MOB has never been a part of my experience in sailboat racing before now. Gregory was on foredeck with the spinnaker full on a downwind leg of the race. He was seen with lines tangled around his ankles, and one of the crew noticed that he was leaning over to untangle these lines. Then he fell overboard with the lines still wrapped around his legs. The lines kept Gregory attached to the boat, dragging through the water before the boat was depowered and Gregory’s body was brought back to the boat. By this point, he was unconscious.
This we know.
From here, is where my mind races through all those things we don’t know. Did Gregory have a medical incident on board, such as a heart attack or stroke that caused him to fall overboard? Why didn’t the skipper sail head to wind to stop the boat? Why weren’t the lines cut that caused the drag through the water? The Skagit Valley Coroner’s Office has deemed Gregory’s death as an accidental drowning. But thankfully, they’re doing a full investigation involving pathology results to determine if Gregory had a medical event prior to the fall, or if there are any other explanations that help us know what might have happened. These results can take months, so in the meantime, we reflect and wait.
My thoughts have centered on three things: 1) Cold shock, 2) Importance of a PFD, and 3) What I, as a sailboat race event producer could ever do to minimize the chances of a death occurring on the course.
We hear about MOB drills all the time. We may have even participated in a class or workshop where we worked as a team in a very controlled setting to practice picking up someone who has fallen overboard. But I think we need to spend more time educating ourselves about what we can expect if it is us that goes overboard, and talk to our crews every single time we board a boat what our jobs would be ‘if’ a MOB happens. Everyone should have a job assigned to them so that when the stress and adrenaline kicks up, and the chaos abounds, everyone is clear what their function is in the event. What the MOB and the crew does in the first 120 seconds before help can arrive is the most critical because of what is called “Cold Shock,” when someone drops into water under 60 degrees (like Puget Sound). You could have a fleet of first responders on a race course, and the outcome would be the same. It’s why skippers must take the sole responsibility of their crew who are offshore, as these are the inherent risks that are accepted in the sport of sailboat racing.
Falling into cold water provokes an immediate gasp reflex. If your head is under water, you’d inhale water instead of air. Initial shock can cause panic, hyperventilation, and increased heart rate leading to a heart attack. This stage typically lasts less than a minute, and at this point the person should concentrate on just staying afloat with their head above water until this shock passes (and it does pass). My hope is anyone who ventures out on a boat is acutely aware of Cold Shock before they leave the dock. The message is clear: “If you fall overboard, remember what Cold Shock is, and remind yourself that you will be OK if you can just force yourself to relax, and get through the first minute with your head above water. At this time, don’t try and swim, just keep your head above water. Try and relax and float on your back to catch your breath, then try to get hold of something that will help you float.”
The bottom line, don’t panic, and keep your head up. Studies show that most victims who fall overboard never make it to a hypothermic stage since 75% of individuals succumb and die in the earlier stages of Cold Shock immersion.
Next, I think a MOB discussion should happen with the entire crew before the boat leaves the dock. When someone screams, “Man Overboard!” everyone on the crew should have a handle of what their job should be, and one person who knows everyone’s jobs should act as the alternate and take on the job of the person who has fallen overboard. I’m in no way a MOB expert, but these are some of the jobs that I think are important (and should be executed immediately) following the MOB alert:
- Spotter: the person who looks only at the victim during the ordeal and never loses sight.
- Thrower: the person who throws floatable cushions, LifeRing, or anything that floats off the boat.
- Skipper: the person who moves the boat instantly head to wind to stop the boat.
- Radio: the person who goes to the radio to hail the Race Committee on the fleet channel that there has been an incident.
- Caller: the person who calls ‘911’ and reports the incident immediately to emergency medical services.
- Cutter: the person who cuts any lines, sails, that may cause dragging.
- Assister: the person who stays with the victim when transferred to shore for medical attention.
- Documenter: the person who is taking photos of the MOB incident and using photo time stamp, video, live commentary to record the event.
I have to say, after many sleepless nights, these are the roles I have deemed most important on a boat. Mind you, every boat is different, and every boat has varying numbers of crew. But that is why it is so critical that the conversation happen every time a new crew assembles, and before leaving the dock so that the first critical 120 seconds of the MOB incident are covered. Having crews discuss it in advance will diminish the fatalities that come from crew falling overboard.
In this incident, I’m very proud of the immediate response of our Race Committee. In this setting (versus being hundreds of miles offshore in the middle of the ocean), there are not only other racers nearby to assist in a MOB incident, but there are also power boats on the course that make up the Race Committee fleet. But this incident cast a new light on just how little we know about the crews on board the boats that are racing in our events, and going forward I think this deserves some attention. Here are a couple of new things I’m considering adding to Race Week planning going forward:
- Skippers may be asked to register their crews on the registration platform so that crew can be easily identified and next of kin can be easily notified in the event of an accident.
- Skippers may be required to go over the above personal and crew MOB safety protocols with their crews prior to the participation in Race Week.
- Skippers may be required to keep a crew log so that in the event of an emergency, the Organizing Authority can reach family members.
- We’ll maintain our fleet of judge, umpire, mark set, start and finish boats on the course so that there are resources available to assist when called.
Anyone who ventures away from the shore recognizes the dangers and risks involved. My desire is to not keep people from the fun of sailboat racing, but to remind everyone that we can do better when it comes to safety practices that can help limit fatalities should a MOB happen on our watch. Please spend some extra time with your crews and each other refreshing your MOB protocols. My condolences to the with Grace team, and to Gregory Mueller’s family.