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September 15, 2021

The Return of the Rolex Big Boat Series

St. Francis Yacht Club is welcoming hundreds of skippers, crews, spectators and helpers back to San Francisco for the Rolex Big Boat Series. Racing in the 56th edition will start tomorrow (Thursday, September 16). The competitors are practicing, preparing, checking in and weighing in today.

At 71.5 feet long, Chip Merlin’s Merlin is the biggest boat in the Rolex Big Boat Series. They’ll race in ORR. We spotted them out practicing on Sunday. Coming in a close second in length is Mark Sanders’ Hurrica V. The Nicholson ketch will race in the six-boat Classics division.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Adapting to the New Normal

Last year, COVID-19 necessitated the cancellation of the series, along with scads of other high-profile events. This year, rather than waiting out the pandemic, we sailors, like others in so many walks of life, are learning to live with it. StFYC remained ready to pivot as needed at the advice of the club’s COVID Safety Task Force. Comprising the club’s leadership, management team, legal team and health experts, this group has been meeting weekly for more than 18 months, advising on the best health practices for club operations. “Our task force is extremely knowledgeable and has remained committed to the highest level of care for all who enter our doors,” said Commodore Bill Dana. Dana will compete in the ORR division with his Santa Cruz 52 Pinball Wizard.

Streaker, owned by Greg Arkus, will race in the biggest division. The J/105 fleet has 22 boats entered.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

“We have over 80 boats competing,” remarked Rolex Big Boat Series chair Susan Ruhne, “which is more than in 2019. So we feel confident that sailors are comfortable with the safety precautions we’ve taken. St. Francis Yacht Club’s venue is equally sublime inside and outside, which will allow us to safely host all skippers, crews, club members and guests.

“All socials will be held outside with ample space for sailors to mingle, enjoy food and beverages, and be within sight of the docks, the clubhouse and the Bay. Inside, we’ll be closely following health orders from the City and County of San Francisco.” That includes proof of vaccination to enter the building and mask wearing at all times while inside, except when actively eating and drinking. The club has installed enhanced facilities outside for competitors as well as expanded seating along the waterfront for spectators.

Kuai with blue spinnaker
Daniel Thielman’s Melges 32 Kuai jibes at Point Stuart while practicing on Sunday.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

For Armchair Sailors

If you can’t attend in person, you can still experience the thrills vicariously by tuning in to a daily livestream of the finish line, starting at approximately 2:45 p.m. PDT and broadcast on the Rolex Big Boat Series Facebook page. San Francisco-based sailing journalist Kimball Livingston and Team USA member, sailing champion and broadcaster Genny Tulloch will serve as commentators. (Ross Tibbits profiled Genny Tulloch for the current issue of Latitude 38.)

Starball crew at the dock
Back at the dock after an afternoon of practice, it’s some of the ‘Starball’ crew. Bob Walden of the Cal 39 Sea Star chartered the Express 37 Stewball and will race with a blended crew. Eight Express 37s will be competing for their Pacific Coast Championship.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

“The daily downwind finishes can be spine-tingling to watch, with crews visibly giving their all and powering up the rigs to cross the finish line at top speed,” said Ruhne. “They pass so close to the clubhouse they can hear spectators cheering from shore.”

You can download a PDF guide to the series here.

Good Jibes Is Live: Talking About the Singlehanded Transpacific

In this week’s Good Jibes, Chris Weaver chats with Robb Walker and Jim Quanci right after they finished the Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race from San Francisco to Hawaii.

Good Jibes with Robb Walker and Jim Quanci
Robb Walker and Jim Quanci.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The 2,150-mile race took place for the first time in 1978 and happens every two years. Hear about the squalls and wind holes they faced, their favorite and least favorite parts, the famous belt buckle, and whether they’ll do a race like this one again. Learn more at

An Unmanned Circumnavigation

Two weeks ago we launched the new, ‘revamped’ Latitude 38 Crew List page. Some sailors may wonder why we went to the weeks- (maybe months-) long effort to recreate and improve a page that was, in essence, already working. The story below, An Unmanned Circumnavigation, which appears in the September issue, is the reason; sailors connecting and going sailing together make the hard work worthwhile, and incredibly rewarding.

Every journey starts somewhere: The seed for a circumnavigation was planted for Barbara Euser when she read Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World as a teenager; Kelly Gregory thinks she was born with the desire; and crossing the Pacific was on the top of Cristina Aggazzotti’s long list of goals.

Latitude 38 helped make this crew connection in 2010. “When I was looking for crew to sail from San Francisco to Panama,” said Barbara, “I checked the Latitude 38 Crew List and found Kelly, who had expressed an interest in long offshore passages.” Kelly is a Sausalito sailor, and Barbara is a longtime Richmond Yacht Club member who has been living in Greece. Barbara continues, “Kelly and I sailed from San Francisco to Acapulco nonstop in April 2010. We discussed our dreams of circumnavigating during that passage. Since then we have kept in touch.” Those dreams materialized in March 2021, when the duo set sail from Panama aboard Barbara’s 1975 34-ft Bristol SV Islander, embarking on a global circumnavigation.

Islander on the Pacific
SV Islander sets forth on the wide expanse of the Pacific.
© 2021 SV Islander

“Why do you go to sea?” the crew was asked. This question has been pondered and attempted to be answered by any sailor who heads offshore. The question is as vast as the ocean itself. For Kelly, “My friends say I am married to the ocean, and I think that’s right. I am in love with the pulse of the tides and the flux of the swell, the unblinking horizon and the freedom of movement.” For Cristina, “Being on a sailboat out on the open ocean, away from land and all its complicated distractions, reduces daily life and interactions to a contained environment. Although small, this compact world is very rich, providing countless challenges and learning opportunities across a range of disciplines, ample time and space for reflection, and merciless access and exposure to nature.” And for Barbara, “It’s about being able to travel unrestricted by roads and designated pathways, untethered to land. It’s been a 50-plus-year goal to sail around the world.”


Daniela Moroz Wins 2021 Formula Kite European Championships

Californian kite foiler Daniela Moroz has emerged victorious in the 2021 Formula Kite European Championships held in Montpellier, France. According to the news we received from US Sailing, Moroz “sailed a stellar regatta and successfully navigated the new format of Formula Kite championship racing on the same waters where the sport of kiteboarding first originated in the mid-1990s.”

Daniela Moroz competing at the 2021 Formula Kite European Championships.
© 2021 Alex Schwarz

“I’m super-happy with how the Europeans went — I think it sets me up really well for the Worlds [in Sardinia, Italy] next month,” said Moroz. “It was awesome to have Charlie McKee [two-time Olympic bronze medalist — Bend, Oregon] as our coach. Our squad has been working on a few things in preparation for the Worlds, and the Europeans acted as a perfect dress rehearsal.”

Fellow American competitor Markus Edegran (pictured below with Moroz) from Sherman Island, CA, placed 16th in a very competitive fleet of 90 men. Following the championships Edegran said, “In the new racing format, we sailed through a few stages, which was different from most sailing formats I’ve experienced. But it was exciting and I was happy with how I handled each stage. Unfortunately, I got knocked out earlier than my goal, but I’m feeling positive and I’m looking forward to a better result at the World Championships.”

Moroz, Edegran, and Charlie McKee are returning to California, where they’ll reconnect with the rest of the US kite foil squad for a final training camp before the Worlds.

Moroz after win
Daniela Moroz and Markus Edegran “fist bump,” with coach Coach Charlie McKee standing behind, immediately following Daniela’s final race that secured her the win.
© 2021 Alex Schwarz

US Sailing Team head coach Luther Carpenter said the experience of having Moroz and Edegran compete in France was valuable to the team in preparation for the upcoming race events. “We have a strong domestic squad that’s been working incredibly hard …

“And now Daniela, Markus, and Charlie are bringing back everything they’ve learned to help the kite foil squad grow together.”

We wrote about Moroz in Latitude 38‘s June issue, as the four-time world champion was preparing for kite foiling’s entry into the 2024 summer Olympic Games and settled into her new role aboard TeamUSA’s SailGP Formula 50 catamaran. Moroz’s win adds to the speedster’s growing list of racing achievements including two Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year awards, Rolex Sailor of the Year in 2018, and three Open European Champion awards.

What Say You?
A big "thank you" to Allyn Schafer for sharing this awesome shot, which has now become September's Caption Contest(!).