Kenichi Horie, 83, is planning to set sail under the Golden Gate Bridge at about 10 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, March 26, for a solo, nonstop voyage to Japan aboard his 19-ft sloop Suntory Mermaid III. If you’re planning to be on the water for SailGP, you could make it a day of epic sailing events by starting out escorting Kenichi under the Gate. He intends to do the 6,000-mile voyage in about 70 days. Corn flakes will be among the main staples in his diet.
Sailing solo across the Pacific in a 19-ft boat at age 83 sounds like a monumental undertaking, but to hear Kenichi talk about it, as we did at the San Francisco Yacht Club on Wednesday, you’d think it’s just another afternoon daysail. He spoke calmly about this next trip and clearly said he’ll be planning another one after this. Many people may not realize this is the 11th major voyage he has taken, including his first solo transpacific crossing from Japan to San Francisco at age 23 in 1962. His voyages are too numerous to list, but they include a pedal-powered passage from Hawaii to Japan, solo Pacific crossings on a boat made of recycled whiskey barrels, a boat of recycled plastic, another of recycled aluminum cans, and wave- and solar-powered boats, plus two solo circumnavigations.
We asked Kenichi about the environmental statement he was making with each of these boats. While he insisted he wasn’t an ‘activist’, he wants to live demonstrating the principle of the circular economy, where we step lightly on the planet, reduce/eliminate fossil fuels, and reuse resources. Each voyage highlights another opportunity to change the way we think, and stretches our imagination. For Kenichi, it’s another carefully crafted, unique way to explore the planet under sail.
His cheery, serious and calm demeanor has you thinking he’s going sailing but will be home in time for dinner. He has found times when he’s been scared by big storms at sea or faced extreme discomfort in the icy cold of the Northwest Passage, but he says surviving each episode left him with more experience and faith that he could survive each of his subsequent adventures. When asked what he liked about sailing, he replied, “I like the whole thing from end to end. I like not using gas or oil. I like planning the voyage from the beginning to pushing off and then arriving at my destination.” Asked what he does at night, he said, “I go to bed when it gets dark.” He says he now likes sailing in warm places. Pedaling across the Pacific was very hard, and he wouldn’t do that again.
Kenichi’s voyaging has made him a hero in Japan, where he’s supported by the health and beverage company Suntory. You have the impression that if Mick Jagger and Kenichi Horie were walking the streets of Tokyo together, it might take Mick a while to realize that all the waves and photos were happening because he was with Japan’s most famous sailor.
Amongst well-wishers at SFYC were members of the Silicon Valley Sailing Club, which consists of Japanese sailors from Silicon Valley. They originally formed in 2010 after the Japanese entry in the 2009 Transpac, Leglus, returned from Hawaii to San Francisco Bay. They now sail out of Emery Cove Marina aboard the shared Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 389 Lovely Day. They all drove from Silicon Valley to meet the sailing legend, and also plan to be on the Bay Saturday morning for the send-off before turning their attention to SailGP. Speaking of which, in the crowd was Kazuhiko Sofuku, chief operating officer of the Japan SailGP Team, who also came to see a fellow countryman take on a completely different kind of sailing challenge.
The modern Suntory Mermaid III was designed by the son of the designer of the first, wooden Mermaid Kenichi sailed into San Francisco Bay in 1962. The San Francisco Maritime Museum wrote in to say, “The original Mermaid is back in the lobby of the Maritime Museum, open Wednesday to Sunday 10-4. Free Admission.” The new boat is all aluminum and equipped like a full ocean cruiser in miniature. She’s 19-ft long with a 5-ft draft, and weighs just 2,187 lbs with a keel of 661 lbs. There’s an aluminum hard dodger and twin furling headsails, all rigged back to the small cockpit. A Furuno tracker will let us follow along.
Those of us who have a hard time comprehending these extreme challenges are only more confused when in the company of such a pleasant and unassuming character with a big voyage ahead and a big message for humanity. We’re inspired by his message and example. We look forward to following this voyage and his next one.
Addendum: If you would like to follow Kenichi Horie you can click here. You will see a blue box like the one below. Click that, though it’s all in Japanese, you should be able to follow along.
The future is in good hands. On Thursday evening St. Francis Yacht Club hosted the awards for the US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year. Held on the eve of SailGP, the ceremony added to the festivities and the yachting royalty visiting or living in the Bay Area.
Amid a crowd of sailing legends, and flanked by other very accomplished Rolex award nominees at a live ceremony in San Francisco, awards MC Gary Jobson announced that Harry Melges IV of Lake Geneva, WI, and Daniela Moroz of Lafayette, CA, are the 2021 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year.
Daniela Moroz — 2021 US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year
At only 21 years old, kiter Daniela Moroz has been named US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year three times now. “It’s such an honor to win this award for the third time,” said Moroz. “All year I was just focused on being the best sailor I could be, so this is a pleasant surprise.”
In 2021, Moroz dominated the female Formula Kite class, winning the Women’s Formula Kite Worlds and the Formula Kite European Championships. She was the top female athlete at the San Francisco and Clearwater US Open Sailing Series events.
Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Moroz competed in her first international event at age 14, winning her first world championship only a year later, at 15. Since then, she has won five world championships and four European championships. Moroz is currently a student at the University of Hawaii. She’s campaigning for the 2024 Olympic Games, where the Formula Kite will make its Olympic debut.
Daniela credited her parents and her local sailing community, saying, “It takes a village, and this is my village!” She’s surrounded by many boosters, supporters and competitors, whom she credits for having raised her game. She’s clearly risen to the challenge.
Harry Melges IV — 2021 US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year
Winning his first-ever Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award, Harry Melges IV, also just in his 20s, brings a vast amount of experience to the table for his young age. In 2021, Melges was a two-time E Scow national champion (the rescheduled 2020 Nationals were sailed in 2021), Melges 24 Gold Cup winner, and a member of the winning IC37 East Coast Championship crew, among others.
“Winning this award is such an honor to me, since my grandfather won it 60 years ago,” said Melges. “I’ve worked hard this season, and I am so glad to be able to take home this trophy.”
Growing up around such accomplished sailors (his grandfather, Harry ‘Buddy’ Melges, won Olympic gold and bronze in the Soling and Flying Dutchman), it was only natural that Melges got an early start. He began racing at age 6, hitching rides on the assortment of Scows sailed on his home waters of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
In addition to his experience in Scows and sport keelboats, Melges was also a member of the US Sailing Team. He campaigned for the 2020 Olympic Games in the 49er with fellow Wisconsinite Finn Rowe.
Harry Melges IV credited his family for great support without pressure to succeed. He commented, “Sailing has given me a love for the outdoors, and sailing is just playing with the outdoors.” It’s a big legacy to live up to, but the water in Lake Geneva seems to breed champions. The Melges family certainly knows how to both race and enjoy the game.
Attending the awards, in addition to Rolex contenders, were many members of the US Sailing executive team and board, which includes president Rich Jepsen from the Bay Area and a recent addition, Bay Area Star sailor Doug Smith. Executive director of the US Sailing Olympic Team and past Rolex winner Paul Cayard was also on hand to congratulate the winners, along with past winners JJ Fetter, Terry Hutchinson, Stan and Sally Honey, Mike Martin and Caleb Paine.
Established in 1961 by US Sailing and sponsored by Rolex Watch USA since 1980, the annual presentation of US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards is considered the sport’s ultimate recognition of an individual’s outstanding on-the-water achievements for the calendar year. Winners are chosen from a pool of nominees selected by panels of past winners and eminent sailing journalists and dignitaries.
The partnership between Rolex and US Sailing is natural, considering the Swiss watchmaker’s long-term commitment to fostering yachting excellence worldwide. Rolex is a committed partner of the most prestigious yacht clubs around the country, including the St. Francis. Rolex shares the highest standards of excellence and superior performance with US Sailing, acting together as joint custodians of yachting’s finest spirit.
Becoming a Rolex winner for the first (or third) time puts you in elite company and establishes you as an ambassador for the sport of sailing. It was clear from the comments of both Harry and Daniela that the future of sailing is in good hands.
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Inspired by the legendary San Francisco Bay Three Bridge Fiasco, Santa Cruz Yacht Club has come up with its own version on Monterey Bay. This year’s new and improved version of last year’s SCYC Fiasco clearly lived up to expectations for the crews who traveled from Marin, Reno, Ventura and even New Zealand. Four iconic local landmarks — the Santa Cruz Wharf, Natural Bridges, the Cement Ship and the Capitola Wharf — made it easier to navigate, but also more challenging to cross through different microclimates. All the conflicting weather forecasts for Sunday, March 13, turned out to be correct at different times on the 14-mile course. However, the biggest unexpected game changer turned out to be sailing and escaping the kelp beds.
Two invited one-design classes attracted 11 Moore 24s and 7 Santa Cruz 27s. Everyone liked that it was up to each boat to choose their order of rounding the four buoys, which made the race a genuine fiasco. Under the enthusiastic leadership of event chair Sydnie Moore and PRO Christina Shaw, by the end of the race, many felt this could be a Santa Cruz classic (maybe even twice a year), and perhaps could be opened up to all doublehanded boats with a PHRF fleet.
The Moore 24 Roadmasters
The Moore fleet started first. Everyone went to the Santa Cruz Wharf mark, then upwind to the Natural Bridges mark. The breeze was 6-8 knots from 200º, so it was not the usual trip up the coast to Natural Bridges.
Steve Bourdow and Dave Sheldon on Mooregasm won the start and led the fleet up to Natural Bridges. They continued to lead downwind to the Cement Ship buoy, favoring sailing farther outside ahead of Pegasus, Lowly Worm, Mooregawr and Tonopah Low.
However, Chris Watts and Karen Loutzenheiser on Watts Moore, then Sydnie Moore and Mackenzie Cook on Nobody’s Girl, and Tom Conerly and Ricky Garza-Giron on Wildfire chose to play closer to the shore. The boats outside never got knocked; the three boats on the inside got knocked right down to the tip of the kelp bed off Pleasure Point. As we were getting there, a fog bank rolled in with a small increase of wind velocity to 8-10 knots and a shift left to 185º. Visibility was about a half mile. After passing Pleasure Point, the outside boats jibed in and took transoms on the inside.
Pegasus, Tonopah Low and Lowly Worm kept going in and went to Capitola Wharf first. The rest of the Moores kept going to the Cement Ship mark, with Watts Moore two boatlengths ahead of Nobody’s Girl and Mooregasm just behind. When the three boats took off for the Capitola Wharf, the breeze was down to 4-5 knots. About halfway to the mark, the fog rolled back out. Going into the kelp bed between New Brighton Beach and Capitola, we were all reaching, basically dead even. While most of the boats got tangled in the kelp, Nobody’s Girl crash-tacked and managed to stay free and reach Capitola Wharf buoy first.
As the boats cleared the Capitola buoy and tacked out along Pleasure Point, the fog came back in, but this time there was 200-ft visibility and 18-20 knots of breeze. The three lead boats had a big-breeze tacking duel as we all headed out. It only took a couple of minutes sailing on opposite tacks to lose sight of one another in the fog. The three lead boats worked our way up the kelp bed, basically ‘feeling’ along the edge of the fog.
Five minutes after the fleet cleared the end of the kelp bed, the fog lifted and the breeze backed down to 16-18 knots for the race to the finish line. Mooregasm finished first. Watts Moore finished second. Nobody’s Girl was a couple of minutes behind, finishing third, with Wildfire a few minutes after that in fourth.
The rest of the fleet struggled through a transition at the Cement Ship, forcing gambles that did not pay off. Others had moments of brilliance and better luck, which made the race more interesting. All of the doublehanded crews were able to finish with a sense of accomplishment. They felt that this was the best race of the year in Santa Cruz. We hope other Moores will join us for next year’s Buoy Fiasco.
The Santa Cruz 27 Fleet
The new and improved Santa Cruz Doublehanded Fiasco certainly lived up to expectations. We had an extended course, local microclimates, and did I mention the kelp? The fleet of seven SC27s started from both sides of the line. With several weather forecasts to choose from, there was a full spectrum of jibs flying from the forestays. Water Dragon, Hanalei and Jersey Girl were neck-and-neck beating toward Natural Bridges, each sporting a different-size headsail.
With a 15-mile course, there was plenty of work for the shorthanded crews. When the deckhand’s whining got to be too much for the helmsman, we swapped. This proved to be an effective division of labor, and led to a perfect 50/50 split of duties and respite for the tired body.
After a lovely long and breezy downwind leg, we had to choose whether to round the Cement Ship or Capitola mark first. Either way, it meant going through the kelp. Jersey Girl and Hanalei chose Capitola first. Water Dragon, Good Timin’, Dynaflow and Summer Breeze went the other way, which turned out better. Water Dragon led the way out, as the real wind started to fill. Hanalei peeled the #2 to the #3, and, after some brief remorse, found the strong wind and happiness to the finish line. Water Dragon did a bareheaded sail change, giving the rest of us a chance. The whole fleet finished with small sails as the wind gods welcomed us home.
Ryan Schuyler and Frank van Diggelen finished first on Hanalei. Derek Weltz and John Neville placed second on Water Dragon, with Joe Wagster and Matt Frazeur on Jersey Girl in third. Special mention goes to Gary and Alex Mirfield (youngest skipper) on Good Timin’, who finished fourth.
On Thursday, SailGP used the tech hub of San Francisco to announce a groundbreaking sports technology partnership that includes DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations), NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and global community activation at SailGP events. This adds a whole new level to the already-complicated language of sailing, though the SailGP platform is ideal for demonstrating the pioneering, innovative spirit of sailing while merging with crowd-sourced blockchain Web3 community development. Really!
Latitude 38 is probably better suited to explaining barber-haulers and twings than NFTs and DAOs, but many Bay Area sailors are already well acquainted with both. As with foils, so much is impacted by the leading edge. To be on the leading edge, SailGP continues to push the envelope of what’s possible with the announcement of a multi-year, groundbreaking partnership with the NEAR Foundation, a leading carbon-neutral, community-driven blockchain development platform.
Russell Coutts and NEAR CEO Marieke Flament were on hand to explain that, as part of the partnership, SailGP will explore the sale of a new team to a DAO launched on the NEAR Protocol — a first-of-its-kind community engagement and activation platform in professional sports. The historic partnership will enable fans and cryptocurrency enthusiasts to engage and access their favorite teams, athletes and events as never before.
The DAO community members may determine athlete selection, team management, commercialization options, operations and team strategy. Operating under the structure of the current SailGP Teams’ Participation Agreement, the DAO team could join the SailGP starting lineup as early as Season 4 in 2023, subject to compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
A DAO is an organization that is community-owned and whose financial transactions and rules of engagement are stored on a blockchain. While historically companies are managed from the top down, DAOs are communally governed and managed. Decisions are based on the community, and determined by proposals and voting to ensure community members have the ability to directly influence the DAO’s direction.
It’s a striking example of how sailors adjust their sails to the changing winds. After trying to wrap our heads around the somewhat mind-boggling possibilities that come with this technology partnership, we had to run to the SailGP site in San Francisco for a quick look at the tangible world of sailing. Amid the clattering of event setup between St. Francis Yacht Club and Golden Gate YC, we ran into brother-and-sister dynamic duo JP and Pearl Lattanzi. They had both qualified for the SailGP Inspire Waszp Grand Final. They earned their berths last week in the Waszp Americas event at Richmond YC.
The SailGP village on the Cityfront will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Racing will be from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on both days, with a not-so-minor token of $1,000,000 on the line for the winner. The live action will also be viewable on YouTube, and, for Californians, it’s in your time zone!
At the Friday morning press conference ahead of today’s practice race day we heard from race leaders Tom Slingsby, Jimmy Spithill and Nathan Outteridge. While they’re the solid high-performers, it was event leader Tom Slingsby who reminded everyone yesterday that anything can happen. Slingsby and his crew flipped during yesterday’s practice and damaged their wing. As a result they will miss today’s practice on starts. Not the right lead-in for their Grand Final weekend.
Eight teams will compete before they are whittled down to the final three competing for the grand prize. The 2013 America’s Cup on the Bay launched the rapid advancement in foiling. Now we have F50s, kites, boards, wings, Moths, Waszps and numerous other ways to foil on the Bay. We still enjoy our Saturday sails at 5 knots but applaud all those who push the limits in the sailing discipline that suits them. We love the attention that SailGP brings to sailing, and we hope all viewers find their way to sail on the Bay — or wherever they are. In the meantime “we go where the wind blows,” and this weekend that will be at SailGP on the San Francisco Cityfront. Learn more here.
Last week we reported on the grounding of the megayacht VIXIT. The 173-ft vessel ran onto rocks that lie approximately three feet below the surface, about five miles southeast of Puerto Escondido near the fishing village of Ligüí. At the time, it was suggested that VIXIT might be there a while, and now it appears that this assessment was accurate. In response to comments on our story from readers John Enders and Billie Evans, we did a little more digging. John and Billie wanted to know who owns VIXIT, and if the yacht is still stranded.
According to her position on Marine Traffic, she remains where she ran aground. VIXIT was en route from La Paz and is listed as being at Puerto Escondido. The voyage lasted 9 days and 19 hours. The map, however, shows the vessel as being offshore, status ‘Aground.’ Her last reported position is shown as 25.7549° Lat, -111.2402° Long, and ‘Vessel is Out-of-Range.’
The next question, who owns VIXIT, is a little harder to answer. We searched high and low throughout the internet and came up with nothing. In the end we took a sneaky seven-day trial with Marine Traffic in the hope of finding our answer. In theory we succeeded. According the the website, VIXIT is owned by Crossplain. Good to know … Now, who and what is Crossplain? We’ve exhausted our search and throw our hands in the air — we have no idea.
We’re so excited to launch our first Sailing Club Open House! If sailing is already your passion, or you want to get into the sailing lifestyle without the costs of owning a sailboat, come join us this coming Saturday.
Our sailing club is perfect for you if:
- You want to (learn to) sail on San Francisco Bay.
- You want to be part of our exclusive Beneteau sailing family.
- You want to live the lifestyle of a boater without the costs of boat ownership.
- You want to be part of a sailing club that provides an easy sign-up process and uncomplicated fee structure. Lessons are included with your membership.
- You want to have access to multiple Beneteau sailboat models.
To learn more and sign up go here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nautical-access-sailing-club-open-house-tickets-288891711887