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October 11, 2021

Fleet Week Air Show and Sailboats — What a Way to Spend the Weekend!

This past weekend, the US Navy’s Blue Angels and a variety of aircraft blazed across the sky over San Francisco Bay for the 2021 Fleet Week Air Show. We mentioned in last Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude that we were excited about the air show, and the actual event did not disappoint. Here are a few photos that were sent to us by Jörg Bashir, who was aboard Call of the Sea’s schooner Seaward with his two kids for Saturday’s air show. Jörg would ordinarily be sailing his own boat Kipu Kai, a Pacific Seacraft Orion 27, which is berthed at Marina Village Yacht Harbor in Alameda. But clearly for such an occasion, it’s by far better to have someone else take the helm and keep a lookout for other boats, and keep your own eyes free to enjoy the show, and take great photos.

Jet planes
From the waterline it often looked as if the planes were touching.
© 2021 Jörg Bashir
The Blue Angels might have been the main drawcard, but they were not the only attraction.
© 2021 Jörg Bashir
Did someone say “Inverted?”
© 2021 Jörg Bashir
The big guns had a few tricks of their own.
© 2021 Jörg Bashir
If anyone had any questions as to why there was an exclusion zone for boats, the low-flying craft put all doubts to rest.
© 2021 Jörg Bashir
We still can’t beat nature’s beauty and grace.
© 2021 Jörg Bashir
The crew aloft on the Matthew Turner had one of the best views.
© 2021 Jörg Bashir

Although there was often less than a minute between the various ‘performances’, there were plenty of sailboats to admire between shows.

Most of the sailing was done before and after the air show.
© 2021 Jörg Bashir
We’re pretty sure the J/105 Archimedes was on the water both Saturday and Sunday.
© 2021 Jörg Bashir
Even without the air show it would have been a fantastic weekend on the water.
© 2021 Jörg Bashir

Bay Area sailor Jeff Berman was also on the Bay and sent us the following shots.

Six US Navy Blue Angels jets flew for around 40 – 45 minutes on both days. Imagine the adrenaline rush the pilots must feel.
© 2021 Jeff Berman
They did a lot of ‘up close and personal’ flying. Do you think they took photos of each other from the cockpits?
© 2021 Jeff Berman
The cityscape background added another dimension to the spectacular air show.
© 2021 Jeff Berman

A big “Thank you” to Jörg Bashir and Jeff Berman for sharing their photos.

And an extra big “Thank you” to all the sailors, power boaters, ferry captains, kayakers, jet ski drivers … As far as we’re aware, there were no unfortunate or unpleasant incidents over the weekend on the Bay in relation to the air show. Except for that one boat that we understand had hit a rock and was taking on water — we hope that all worked out OK. Oh, and there was “that one person” who decided to cut through the no-go zone in a great hurry. As expected, the Coast Guard hurried right after them. Wouldn’t like to have been in that driver’s seat when they all reached the dock.

Stay tuned to ‘Lectronic Latitude — if we can, we might slip in a few more photos in future editions. And if you have any photos to share, you can send them to us at: [email protected] or for Sailagram, send to:  [email protected].

October’s Caption Contest(!)

It’s time for this month’s Caption Contest(!). We expect this photo will get tongues wagging about who has right of way, but in the end, it’s all meant to be fun. So go for it; give us your best caption.

Your caption here.
© 2021 SailChecker Yacht Charter & Sailing

In case you missed it, here’s the link to Latitude 38‘s Loose Lips, where we announced the September Caption Contest(!) winner and top ten comments.

SailGP Makes a Splash in Spain

It was a “Zap,” “Pow” and “Kabam” weekend in Cádiz, Andalusia, Spain, as SailGP’s flying foiling circus delivered action in spades.

Japan gets airborne
Japan SailGP Team, helmed by Nathan Outterridge, got airborne on Day 2 at Event 6, Season 2 on October 10.
© 2021 Felix Diemer / SailGP

Team USA, led by San Diego-based skipper Jimmy Spithill, took a significant step closer to the $1 million cash bonanza at season’s end. They secured a second-place finish after avoiding a dramatic capsize by Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain Team that nearly took them out as well.

If Saturday’s action was a bit humdrum, it was all on for Sunday. A significant change in conditions, when 25-knot gusts blew in from the city on the east and met the Atlantic swell from the west, resulted in dramatic action. The Spanish turned out in throngs — including royalty. Their King Felipe VI was on hand to witness what foiling at 50 knots is all about.

Crowd of spectators in Cadiz
The fans in Cádiz, Spain, turned out in massive numbers to witness the high-speed foiling acrobatics of SailGP. Could the America’s Cup be next?
© 2021 Ricardo Pinto / SailGP

Two Boats Capsize

Unfortunately, the home team went from hero to zero when a capsize ahead of the final day of racing took the Spanish team out of contention and out of the competition.

However, they weren’t the only team to suffer a devastating blow. Ben Ainslie’s British team turned over in the choppy waters of the Bay of Cádiz in the final podium race, leaving Tom Slingsby’s Aussie team to take the victory.

UK's nosedive
Ben Ainslie nosedives in front of the Aussies and Americans in the Spanish SailGP podium final. Team USA had to slam on the brakes, stalling out their chance at victory.
© 2021 Bob Martin / SailGP

The Brits certainly have had better weekends. Ainslie, who now has an ownership stake in the team, luckily came out unscathed, remarking afterward, “It was a great lineup with us, USA and Australia in that podium race. We had a great start and managed to get into the lead. Then, halfway across the first reach, we got hit by a mega-gust. We just didn’t get the trim and the balance of the boat right and stuck the bow in and managed to pitchpole it.”

Team USA

“Today [Sunday] was definitely on the edge. You’re really in avoidance mode,” noted Spithill, referring to the winds and sea state. “We all came off the start line [in the final race] and saw Ben do a huge nosedive. We bowed out to avoid them, which caused us to crash. It triggered our emergency stop systems, effectively shutting the boat down. While we restarted the systems Tom Slingsby’s Team Australia was already far down the line.”

Team USA
Team USA, with Jimmy Spithill at the wheel and teen phenom CJ Perez on board, navigate the impressive winds on Day 2 to capture second place for the weekend.
© 2021 Thomas Lovelock / SailGP

Regardless, the team’s consistent result saw the Americans increase their point total in the overall league standings. Only the top three teams at the end of the season will have the chance to race for the Grand Final in San Francisco on March 26-27, 2022.

Despite the final race troubles, Spithill is pleased with the weekend and second-place overall finish. “It’s another great result. We are now just one point off the leaderboard overall. All we have to do is qualify for the final and then win in San Francisco.”

The Women’s Pathway Program

Female sailors were onboard all the boats this weekend. CJ Perez, a young woman from Honolulu who just turned 18, was buzzing about today’s conditions. “It was absolutely unbelievable,” Perez said. “Sailing these boats is a whole other level. It’s what sailing is about. Your heart rate is at its max, your adrenaline is pumping, you’re nervous and excited for each tack and jibe, and it’s some of the best racing in the world, in my opinion.”

CJ Perez portrait
Hawaiian-born CJ Perez made the roster this weekend.
© 2021 Ricardo Pinto / SailGP

“It feels like a rocket ship,” said Perez. “We’re moving at speeds I’ve never experienced before and flying so high out of the water.” Perez, along with Californian Daniela Moroz of Lafayette, are the two female sailors on the US team.

Moroz can identify with the conditions that Perez encountered. “My last event was in Denmark, and yeah, it was super-cool I got to be on the boat [during practice racing] in some pretty hectic conditions,” said Moroz, who spoke to us from Sardinia, where she’s currently training for the Kite World Championships, which start today. “On the last day that I was on the boat, on our training day, it was, like, a little over 30 knots, and it was pretty wild — you know, running across the boat and just trying to stay alive!

“I definitely feel like I missed out in Spain. But I also knew I wanted to be preparing for Worlds and not be, like, flying back and forth last minute,” said Moroz. “It is very high stress in the week leading into the World Championships, so unfortunately I couldn’t be there. But CJ did super-well. It’s really awesome to see her on the boat too.”

SailGP introduced the Women’s Pathway Program at the start of this season as part of its strategy to promote inclusion. With the addition of a new crewmember as a new standard and light-wind configuration, WPP athletes are now able to gain the valuable experience needed to race the high-flying F50 catamarans.

“There is currently an experience gap among women at the top of the sport. This season we have embedded female athletes in each of our teams to gain vital experience,” said SailGP CEO Russell Coutts. “But we have to work quicker to accelerate change. It is imperative to break existing boundaries and create a more inclusive environment.”

Euro Series Complete; Time to Migrate South

The series next heads Down Under to Australia on December 17-18 before coming our way to San Francisco Bay for the exciting million-dollar giveaway.

Max Ebb Explores Columbus’s Navigational Claims

Today is Columbus Day — a day that “officially celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492.” And while some of the country is having a day off, like many, we are still here working. Which is fine with us, as we enjoy what we do, particularly when there’s an opportunity to learn something, and perhaps engage in interesting conversations about sailing history. In this case, we were reminded about a story we published in Latitude 38‘s November 2020 edition, in which Max Ebb and Lee Helm try to educate each other about the veracity of the explorer’s claims to nautical fame. We invite you to decide for yourself who is correct.

Max Ebb Columbus story

Even though I’m mostly working at home these days, my company still expects me to be at my desk. But we also get Columbus Day off, so I was free to take one of my newly discovered favorite long walks, through the nearby university campus. I used to avoid it for the crowds, but with most of the classes online this semester and the dorms less than half full, it’s a very pleasant, parklike environment. So it was with much surprise that I came upon a fairly large crowd assembled in front of the Geography Building.

It didn’t take long to discover what was going on. The object of all the attention was a small statue of Christopher Columbus. He was holding a cross-staff, the 15th-century forerunner of the sextant.

Of course, there is no such thing as “Columbus Day” on campus. It’s “Indigenous Peoples Day,” and the statue had to be dealt with. The main issue on the agenda, according to the speaker standing on the building’s front steps, barely comprehensible through an improvised portable amp, was deciding on the most appropriate way to deface this symbol of brutal colonial oppression.

But the amplified voice had something familiar about it, and suddenly I realized that I knew who was behind that Hawaiian-print face mask. The speaker was none other than Lee Helm, a graduate student in naval architecture and a racing navigator in demand.

“We could, like, replace that cross-staff with a globe,” she implored the crowd. “But it would be a special globe, only about 12,000 miles in circumference, and totally leave out the Americas, North and South. It’s the globe that Columbus imagined, with the Far East like, just a couple thousand miles west of Europe. We could expose him as one of the poorest excuses for a navigator in all of maritime history!”

However, the crowd wanted to do something a lot less subtle, like cut off his hands or bind the statue in chains.

I took a bearing on Lee when she disappeared into the mob, estimated course and speed, tightened the elastics on my N95, and pushed through the crowd on an intersecting course.

“Good speech, Lee,” I said when I finally maneuvered into hailing distance. “But don’t you think perhaps we could judge historical figures in the context of their own time? Columbus might have done some nasty stuff to the Arawaks and Caribs, but don’t you have to admit he was a great navigator?”

If you haven’t read Max Ebb’s story on Columbus and the discussion between himself and Lee Helm, we highly recommend you do. It is entertaining to say the least, and you might learn something. You could, of course, have your own opinions on the topic, which match neither Max’s nor Lee’s.

Read the full story to find out: Max Ebb — Goodbye Columbus.

Orcas, Wrecks and a Tempest
Leg 1 of the Mini Transat has been a wild one, with boats dismasted, wrecked onto the rocks, struck by angry orcas, and putting in to port to avoid a storm.