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June 24, 2022

Opti Heavy Weather Regatta Sails in Near-Perfect Conditions

The St. Francis Yacht Club held its annual Opti Heavy Weather Regatta last weekend in beautiful small-boat sailing conditions. The sky was clear, the air was warm, and a 12- to 15-knot breeze blew across the Bay for much of the weekend. It was a strong contrast to last year’s regatta weekend, which produced full-on summer breeze, ebb chop and fog.

Friday Slalom

First on the program was Friday’s Slalom, which saw the small boats lined up for the start in what photographer Chris Ray called “glorious sunshine, loads of wind and a furious flood tide.”

St Francis YC Heavy Weather Optis
Thirty-nine Optis took to the start of Friday’s Slalom races.
© 2022 Chris Ray
The race course was set north of StFYC. Sausalito can be seen in the background.
© 2022 Chris Ray
Fierce competition across eight qualifying heats and a finals series resulted in Miles Gordon (California YC), Mark Xu (SFYC), and Cooper Keeves (California YC) taking first, second and third.
© 2022 Chris Ray

Weekend Regatta

Saturday again brought spectacular weather as competitors from up and down the West Coast, including Seattle and Vancouver, took to the water for the day’s racing.

Forty-two Optis were signed up to race on the Bay.
© 2022 Chris Ray
Again, the sailors fought hard for every tack and jibe on their way to the finish.
© 2022 Chris Ray
Canada and USA battle it out.
© 2022 Chris Ray

See the results from Saturday and Sunday here. Congratulations to all the winners and competitors, and to StFYC for what Beau Vrolyk considers the “Best junior regatta of the year!”

Master Mariners Wooden Boat Show This Weekend

If you’re like us, you sail around happily in your fiberglass boat being thankful you don’t have too much varnish or woodwork to care for in the hot California sun. Then, suddenly, you find you’re in the middle of the Belvedere Classic Yacht Regatta run by the San Francisco Yacht Club. You begin to feel the emotional tug of elegant wooden boats with gleaming varnish as the fleet cruises by and the boat you love feels as if it’s lacking something.

Black Witch
The 1949 32-ft Winslow sloop Black Witch is one of the Bay Area boats that could convince you to switch from fiberglass to wood.
© 2022 Randall von Wedel

Rather than just admire the beauty from afar, take the opportunity to see the wooden boats up close this weekend. The 28th annual Master Mariners Wooden Boat Show will be held at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon this Sunday. A collection of the Bay’s best will be on display for you to view and climb aboard, and enjoy the warmth of wood. The event is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with music and entertainment alongside the numerous beautiful Bay classics. Paid parking is available right across the street in downtown Tiburon.

Bird Boat Cuckoo
Cuckoo is one of many Bay Area Bird boats celebrating the 100th anniversary of the class in 2022.
© 2022 Benson Lee

The $20/adult entry fee benefits the Master Mariners Benevolent Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that supports a range of activities, including scholarships and expenses tied to youth sail training and maritime-related vocational training.

Water Witch
The Egelston family’s Lester Stone & Son-built 56-ft cutter Water Witch is another boat that could get you to reconsider your love of fiberglass.
© 2022 Jennifer Gridley

The roots of the Master Mariners Benevolent Association go back to the original wooden-boat race on the Fourth of July in 1867. After being dormant for many years, the MMBA came back to life in 1965 with the Memorial Day weekend Master Mariners Regatta, and now continues to serve the community, and the conservation of wooden boats and the trade skills required to care for them.

Kay of Goteborg
The 51-ft Sparkman & Stephens yacht Kay of Gõteborg is as sweet and beautiful as they come.
© 2022 Benson Lee

If you’ve ever been curious and wanted to get close to the stunning classics that ply the Bay, this is your chance to climb aboard, meet the owners, and connect with those who care for sailing’s historical legacy. You’ll discover once-popular rigs such as schooners, yawls and ketches. What is the difference between a ketch and a yawl, anyway? Come find out. You’ll see people who still opt for fancy ropework over plastic clips. It’s not just the boats, but the whole culture and heritage of wooden boats that will be on display.

Master Mariners Wooden Boat Show
The CYC harbor will be filled with Master Mariners classics this Sunday, the 26th.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

We look forward to seeing you on the docks before heading back to our fiberglass boats, hoping we love them as much as we did before the show.

Rare Buying Opportunity Offered by Passage Nautical

Relocation forces this owner to sell his very well equipped and cared for Oceanis 30.1. This is one of the hottest new boats from Beneteau and our new boat wait list is out to mid 2023. Quantum fusion sails, full electronics, Dyneema running rigging. 20% less than a new boat order. To learn more about this boat and schedule a showing click here.

Dishing on the Delta Ditch Run

As noted in a Lectronic Latitude on June 13, the 100-ish-boat fleet in June 11’s Delta Ditch Run “enjoyed” some big, gusty breeze on their course from Richmond to Stockton. This led to some moments of excitement and some great photos and videos.

Wylie Wabbit Capsizes, Wins Anyway

The young sailors in the Wabbit video above, Marcos McGee and Drake Jensen, not only recovered from this round-down/capsize/MOB/round-up, but went on to win their division, Light 2, and a new perpetual trophy. Stockton Sailing Club introduced the stunning new trophy this year in memory of John Walker. Johnny co-founded the Delta Ditch Run in 1991 with Richmond Yacht Club’s Frank Dukat. The trophy features a half-hull model of a Hobie 33, Johnny’s boat, and goes to the top finisher from SSC.

Marcos McGee with trophy
SSC member Marcos McGee’s name and that of his boat, Just a Hare, will be added to the trophy’s plaques, which go back to the first DDR in 1991.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Diggin’ the Ditch in the Moore 24 Fleet

Ian Sprenger, a new Moore 24 owner from Ventura, raced the DDR as a pit stop on his move to Gig Harbor, WA. He’d loaded his truck for the move. He put in his Moore, Skosh, #73, just for the race, then continued on. “What a road warrior!” commented fleetmate Sydney Moore. Mike Geer posted this video from the ‘road’.

Pete Spaulding and Daniel Roberts sailed the winning Moore 24, Flying Circus. They report on their race:

“It was a long, hot, sunny day out there on the Delta, but we were determined not to let the heat get to us and kept thinking about those ice cold rum cocktails ready for us in Stockton. After a quick catch-up with friends on the dock and a few delicious burritos at RYC, we wandered out to the starting line in a light breeze. We weren’t sure which end to start but we knew the western end of the line and staying in the deeper water could pay off early. However, in the end we decided to start with the larger pack at the boat [eastern] end. This strategy looked good for about 30 minutes. Then we noticed the Penguin, Lowly Worm, Firefly and a few others stayed west of the Brothers out in the deep channel happily doing at least a knot faster.

“The fleet started to fan out between the main channel and the windward shore, but the lead boats in the channel kept their pace and made it to Carquinez Bridge, Penguin first and Lowly Worm second. We were lucky to be in third after getting out into the deep channel about halfway to the bridge.

“As the fleet entered the river, the wind began to increase. The initial pecking order was set. Penguin and Lowly Worm had a large lead — maybe 2-3 minutes at times — far enough in the distance that we had to squint to distinguish them from all the other Ditch racers ahead. As we came through the Benicia Bridge, Firefly was closing the distance to us, and we had a great battle as we ran down toward Port Chicago. Firefly ended up passing us. As we approached Pittsburg, Penguin and Lowly Worm seemed to either run out of wind or get slowed by an eddy — we couldn’t tell from our perspective.

“The top four boats compressed between Pittsburg and Antioch and were evenly spread across the river. In the narrow channel north of West Island, we were very lucky to connect some puffs and separate from the pack. We reached the Antioch Bridge in first place.

“The wind continued to build, probably 14-16 knots at this point. We blasted down toward Mark #19, enjoying the ride, but realized we had to get the kite down. The puffs were increasing in velocity as we reached north, and we had some fun dodging barges and a few larger Ditch racers. It was a great feeling to get the kite back up and have fun ripping downwind again.”

Crew of Flying Circus in the river
Pete Spaulding and Daniel Roberts had a great day.
© 2022 Flying Circus

“All was going well until we reached the turn south — this section can be tricky to hold the kite. We were determined to give it a go, as the Express 27s ahead were somewhat successful. We were hit with a few huge puffs and carried them down, but quickly realized we needed to maintain a higher angle. The next puff hit, we flogged, and the kite was instantly split in two. Luckily the starboard luff tape remained intact. Daniel raced to the foredeck, got the kite down, plugged in the backup — which was thankfully packed and ready to go — and we were back under a new kite in just a few minutes. Our lead had been reduced a bit, but we began to think again about those frosty drinks at the bar.”

Moore 24 #11
This photo of Flying Circus was taken from Windmill Cove, about three miles shy of the finish in Stockton.
© 2022 Slackwater SF

“The rest of the race was fairly relaxed. We sailed past a Melges 24 with no main up (and a few other limping boats with various damage) — later finding out they’d cut a day marker a bit close and split their main in half. We cruised into the finish line happy, sunburned, exhausted and ready to get off the boat and hear everyone’s stories from the day.”

Melges 24 at day marker
A Melges 24 mishap.
© 2022 Hank Colberg

For many more photos, see galleries posted by Slackwater SF and There are probably lots more; feel free to submit links to photos and videos of the Delta Ditch Run in the comments section below.

We’ll have more in the July issue of Latitude 38, coming out a week from today on July 1.

Ryan Finn’s Solo Route d’Or

In the June issue of Latitude 38, we shared the story of Ryan Finn’s solo voyage from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn, aboard his 36-ft proa Jzerro. Our racing editor, Christine Weaver, chatted with Ryan after he had finished his trip and returned to New Orleans.

On Thursday, April 21, at 6:04 p.m., Ryan Finn, sailing solo aboard his 36-ft proa Jzerro, passed under the Golden Gate Bridge to finish an amazing adventure. Ryan sailed singlehanded from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn on the 13,225-mile course called the “Route d’Or,” made famous by Gold Rush-era clipper ships.

We interviewed Ryan after he’d returned home to New Orleans, having left his worthy steed, looking remarkably fresh, on an end-tie at Richmond Yacht Club.

“The idea to do the trip came before the boat,” Ryan told us. “I wanted to beat the solo record, which was set in 1990 on a 60-ft trimaran. I could have done it if I didn’t have to stop. The overall trip length was 93 days. I only sailed for 74 of those days. So I would have been ahead of that bigger boat.

“I was thinking about what records were available to an American that were cheap. The French have insurance companies building them boats. I don’t know how much a foiling trimaran costs, but that’s a lot more than Jzerro, than my campaign. There’s no way I would be able to do anything like that. What could I do? It would have to be a multihull, but what multihull can take that kind of a beating? That’s how I got to the proa. No proa’s ever done this route.”

Ryan Finn's proa Jzerro
The Golden Gate Bridge was dressed in her best light for Ryan’s early-evening arrival. He had been becalmed 50 miles from San Francisco. A big swell and no wind was not a great combo. It slowly filled in. “As I got into the Gate the wind increased, and I was able to close it off.”
© 2022

Ryan’s choice of boat shocked people who aren’t familiar with the attributes of proas. “It’s very long for its weight, so its speed is good. It’s lightweight so it doesn’t require huge sails.” Jzerro is 36 feet long; her mast is 36 feet tall, and she weighs 3,200 pounds. “For a 36-ft monohull that’s unheard of. I’ve raced against F-31 trimarans that had 60-ft masts.”

Ryan picked the boat up in Washington state from her designer, Russell Brown, who built her in 1994. Russell and Ryan sailed her to San Francisco, then Ryan singlehanded from there to New Orleans through the Panama Canal. “That was my test. I thought if I didn’t feel comfortable after that then I’d put the boat up for sale.”

The first attempt, in January 2021, was short-lived. “I didn’t have a watermaker, and I brought all the water on the boat, which made it a lot heavier. That may have been part of the problem. When I entered the Gulf Stream, I was going fast, 15-19 knots. I came down really hard on a wave, and I heard what sounded like a shotgun blast. The leeward side of Jzerro has a flotation pod on it so you can really tip the boat over pretty far until it flips. I slammed that into a wave that blew a 1-ft by 1-ft panel, and a ton of water came in. It was above the waterline, so I pumped it all out and did what I could as far as repairing it, which was a hack job.”

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