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February 4, 2022

A Bit of San Francisco Bay Yacht Racing History

“I came across this news clipping in the ditty bag of a long-ago sailor, and thought someone might be interested,” writes Ellen Liebenberg of Livermore. “If only the Chronicle was as interested in sailing now!”

Farallon Clipper race on first page of 1954 Sporting Green
It’s not the front page, but it is the front page of the Sporting Green on May 10, 1954. In this photo, two Farallon Clippers, Debit (left) and Pam have run aground. Does anyone know what the CCCAABCDE means to the left of the date? The Sporting Green was printed on green paper. This one no doubt faded, then yellowed with age.
© 2022 San Francisco Chronicle

Back in 1954, when this article was published, there were no alternatives to get Bay Area sailing news. Bay and Delta Yachtsman launched in 1965, and Latitude 38 started up in 1977 (we’re celebrating our 45th anniversary this year). In the early 1980s, Latitude began running race results in the magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle stopped. Coincidence or by design?

Race results
Results from the race in May 1954. Lots of familiar names here.
© 2022 San Francisco Chronicle

In case you can’t read the clipping showing the results, it lists one-design classes 210, Junior Clipper, Rhodes 33, Windward, Pic, Star, Hurricane, Bird, Acorn, Golden Gate, Farallon Clipper and Bear. Some of these classes and individual boats still race on the Bay. Handicap classes include such memorable yachts as Baruna, Java Head, Yo Ho Ho, Water Witch and Yankee. The results list all entries, including “dnf”, “disq” and “dns”. Among the Farallon Clippers mentioned is Patita II. We featured Patita in the July 2020 issue of Latitude 38. Perhaps not coincidentally, Chronicle boating columnist Jack Schmale’s nephews restored the boat, which had been in the family for 45 years. (There’s a discrepancy in spelling: “Farallon” vs. “Farallone” Clipper; not sure which is the original, definitive spelling.)

SF Chronicle article
Debit managed to pull out the win, thanks to a strong swimmer!
© 2022 San Francisco Chronicle

Again, in case the text of the article is hard to read on your screen, Jack Schmale relates that “Barre Stephens, the co-owner, co-skipper and co-builder” of Debit, dove over the rail, pushed an anchor 50 yards into deeper water, and swam back to the boat. The crew hauled on the anchor line to pull the boat off the shoal near Crissy Field. Debit won her class in the All Clubs Regatta that day.

The Chronicle does sometimes still cover local yacht racing. We’ve shared desk space with their reporter in St. Francis Yacht Club’s media room at Rolex Big Boat Series. But page counts and staff sizes are smaller than they were in the heyday of publishing before the Internet disgorged such a glut of media content. This is true of most print publications. The Chronicle’s longtime web portal, SF Gate, used to carry a Sailing with Latitude 38 channel, but the powers that be changed, as they are wont to do, and the new honcho nixed our channel.

If you, the reader, can fill in more details, please comment below. Thanks to Ellen for sending us these clippings.

Through Heeling, Sailing Supports Healing

Hardships ashore? Take to the sea. It would be hard to find a sailor who doesn’t think sailing provides some form of therapy. Most sailors find that heeling supports healing. The weekend racing fix, the afternoon daysail, the transoceanic voyage — all provide a refreshing, captivating alternative to life ashore. The idea has been recognized for centuries, with one of the best descriptions coming from Herman Melville’s book, Moby Dick, published in 1851.

The famed opener is, “Call me Ishmael. Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off — then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish, Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.”

Sail M.S.
You’d never know the people in this photo are facing significant health challenges as they confront MS. Natalie White and Captain Zac are at the helm, with Emily Ceroll (left) and Taylaur Biebl (right), who went through a bone marrow transplant along with Zac in March 2020.
© 2022 Desire To Inspire Studios

“‘You have multiple sclerosis.’

“The moment those words exited her mouth, only one thought went through my head: ‘I will never sail around the world.’ Soon after, my lifelong job of piloting tugboats would also be in jeopardy. Uncertainty filled every part of my being, as it does with most who receive a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. A storm took over my life. March 2020, six months post-diagnosis, I had a bone marrow transplant (HSCT) in Puebla, Mexico. COVID unfolded as my immune system was destroyed by chemotherapy. My family decided staying with my fiancée and brother in Sayulita would be best. During my transplant procedure, I experienced an ocular complication that went untreated for six months due to fear of COVID-19, and I progressively went 90% blind.”

These are the opening lines from our current February story by Zac Singer, who’s developing Sail MS to help people facing the challenges of a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. We’ve written about numerous programs that provide healing to people facing all sorts of hardships, from soldiers with PTSD to cancer patients and disadvantaged youth who’ve never had the opportunity to get a break from their life circumstances. Additionally, there are many others utilizing sailing as a foundation to heal the planet.

Scott Chowning built LADI for around $500 as a simple-to-build ‘open source’ unit. We wrote about his Trash Boats in April 2021, describing how he tows it behind his boat to collect microplastics in San Francisco Bay and the Oakland Estuary.
© 2022 Scott Chowning

Recognizing the power of sailing to heal both people and the planet, we’ve created a new web page, The Heeling Power of Sailing, as a directory of programs connecting heeling to healing. As it’s currently envisioned, we are listing California programs aimed at specific causes, such as seeking cures or relief for people afflicted with a particular ailment, or helping heal the environmental degradation of the planet. No human activity is perfect; however, sailing has the power to align the collective ingenuity of humans and use its low-impact footprint to create and demonstrate a more sustainable future.

The Heeling Power of Sailing page is a work in progress that will evolve with some subjective decisions to keep it focused on sailors and sailing programs that serve people and the planet. If you know of a program you think should be included, please add it to the comments below. Not all programs will be included, and they may not show up for a while. However, when we can, we’ll do our best to recognize Zac and others who provide help and relief through sailing.

Smoke on the Water — Fire in the Sky

Bay Area sailor Dave Russell was enjoying a cruise in the BVI when he was witness to a nearby boat fire. Dave has chartered close to 100 boats all over the world. He has sailed the BVI at least 25 times since 1993. He holds a USCG 100-ton Master’s ticket, and is a senior instructor at Spinnaker Sailing School in Redwood City. This is his story of what happened last December …

Six of us were sailing the British Virgin Islands with the annual flotilla of boats organized by Spinnaker Sailing Club of Redwood City, California. As the skipper who’d sailed the BVI more than 25 times, I was a happy tour guide and eager to help the five crew aboard the Sunsail Lagoon 424 Wanderer polish their sailing skills in the Caribbean Sea.

On Wednesday night, December 8, we were moored in the west side of Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke. Yes, that bay, home of the infamous Foxy’s restaurant and bar. It was the first time any of the other crew had visited the BVI, and as with all first-timers, there are two ‘ya just gotta do’ items: the Baths on Virgin Gorda and Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke. They ate and danced at the hot spot while I had a quiet dinner with my local friends down the road, then went to bed early while a few stayed ashore for more of what Foxy’s is known for.

11:45 p.m. — Knock, knock, knock! “Dave! The boat behind us is burning!”

Sound asleep since 9 p.m. in the port forward cabin of Wanderer with my hatches closed, I had been oblivious to the screams and firelight emanating from Starstruck (not its real name), a 48-ft power cat moored two balls astern and downwind of us — maybe 200 feet away. Out of bed and up on our aft deck, it was immediately obvious that something had gone horribly wrong. Starstruck‘s upper deck and cockpit were engulfed in flames that spread rapidly, burning through the coachroof to the salon and cabins below. We could see several people on the foredeck, and many people from nearby boats yelling for them to jump. Loud shouts of “mayday!” seemed to come from all around.

Smoke on the Water
The survivors of Starstruck and crew of Wanderer watch the power cat burn in Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke.
© 2022 SV Wanderer

Inflatable dinghies whizzed by in every direction, adding to the confusion and danger, while the vacation boats moored around Starstruck wisely slipped their moorings and moved away. In my mind, I objectified the situation and focused. Time slowed down for me. To save our boat or to save the survivors wasn’t really a dilemma; Wanderer was going to be the recovery boat.

Read the full story at

Sailors Have the Most Interesting Lives

Every so often, at random intervals, we hear from sailors who have found a Golden Ticket in their copy of Latitude 38. When this happens we like to share the winners’ sailing stories, because believe it or not, sailors have the most interesting lives. One of the winners mentioned in a previous story, Larry Haynie, had promised to tell us about his sailing life, and although it took a little while to reach us, it did, and it is interesting.

Larry began sailing on the Bay in 1986, starting out on OPBs (other people’s boats). In 1990 Larry took a big sailing step and attained his OUPV/Six-pack Captain’s license, which would allow him to operate charter boats. Since then Captain Larry has put his license to good use and has worked as a sailing instructor and charter captain, and has completed several boat deliveries.

One of the facts that we find so interesting is that until 2014, Larry was a public school teacher. “Many of my students went sailing with me over the years and a few have crewed for me on deliveries. My most recent long-haul deliveries were Tapachula, Mexico, to the Marquesas, and Grenada to Charleston, SC.”

These days, rather than only sailing on other people’s boats, Larry has his own sailboat, an Albin 25. Now he’s working toward buying a 1972 Hallberg Rassy 35. The new boat is in France, and if the planned purchase goes through, in a few weeks’ time Larry will embark on his next sailing journey — to spend a couple of years cruising the Mediterranean.

Interesting lives
Larry will look the part as he wears his new Latitude swag in the Med. Now the question is, how will he get his hands on the magazine? He may just have to read it online.
© 2022 Larry Haynie

Is it possible that there’s a connection between winning a Golden Ticket and having a good sailing life? We think not. We do, however, believe that the connection between reading Latitude 38 and having the most interesting of sailing lives is very real. And if you’re sailing while wearing a Latitude 38 hat or T-shirt, your enjoyment will be amplified. So, go grab your copy of the latest magazine, or any past issue, for that matter, and get some of that great sailing vibe into you. And if a Golden Ticket happens to fall out, send us your preference for a hat or T-shirt (color and size included), and tell us your sailing story.

Larry picked up his winning magazine at the Point San Pablo Yacht Club — just one of the many distributors on the West Coast. Check here for your nearest outlet, or subscribe and have the West’s best read delivered right to your mailbox.

Get Your Hands on a Copy
'Latitude 38's February issue has stacks of great stories, photos and commentary to give you several fun, interesting and inspiring hours' worth of reading.
Driver Wanted
Be the person that everyone loves to see each month! Deliver 'Latitude 38' magazines to our Bay Area distributors on the first of the month, then, go sailing for the next 29-30 days!