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July 20, 2022

Bay Area Sailor, 14, Wins Bayview Mackinac Race With Her Dad

Bay Area sailors Merritt Sellers, 14, and her father Scott, 50, have won this year’s Bayview Mackinac Race. The duo from Larkspur began the race at 11:30 a.m. last Saturday in Port Huron aboard their J/111, nosurprise. Almost 34 hours later, just after 9 p.m. Sunday, they sailed into the harbor on Mackinac Island. This was Merritt’s first Port Huron to Mackinac race, and the pair’s first Mackinac as a doublehanded crew.

The pair sailed in last year’s Chicago to Mackinac race with a crew of eight. This year, as one of only two crew, Merritt stood her watches and helmed the boat while her father rested below decks. At 3 a.m., during what Scott Sellers told the Detroit Free Press was a “key part of the race,” Merritt made decisions that ultimately gave them the edge over their nearest rival, Utah, from Michigan. “Merritt wasn’t here as a passenger,” Scott said.

sailors on boat
Father and daughter give a thumbs-up as they head into the race.
© 2022 Martin Chumiecki

Merritt has been sailing since she was 7, and last week told The Detroit News, “When I was little my dad would joke that some day we could do a doublehanded race, and this is something I’ve been working toward most of my life.”

Scott is best known locally as a partner in the J/70 1FA, which was overall winner in this year’s Delta Ditch Run. Together with his wife and three daughters, Scott is a member at both the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco and the Little Traverse Yacht Club in Harbor Springs, Michigan.

With the race won it was time to clean up and go get some real food. Did someone say “cheeseburgers?”
© 2022 Martin Chumiecki

Merritt and Scott were registered in the Shore Course, Doublehanded J, Division II. Next weekend Scott will compete with his 18-year-old daughter Hannah in the Chicago to Mackinac Race.

We’ll bring you more on the Mackinac, and the contingent of Bay Area sailors who travel east for the races, in an upcoming issue of Latitude 38.

Alcatraz Restricted Zone Is for the Birds

Bay Area yacht racers (and hopefully boaters of all kinds) know that a restricted zone exists off the northwestern corner of Alcatraz Island. A red and green buoy, marked “AZ” and nicknamed “Little Alcatraz,” indicates the rocks there. Vessels are forbidden from crossing between the buoy and the island.

But did you know that the south shore of Alcatraz is sometimes restricted too? Racers often sail very close to the south shore of Alcatraz for current relief and/or to sail the shortest, most efficient course.

Alerion 28s at Alcatraz
The view looking south from Alcatraz’s western cliff face.
© 2022 Lidia D’Amico

Richmond YC received this message following their recent Intraclub Race: “I’m a Park Ranger with the GGNRA [Golden Gate National Recreation Area] based on Alcatraz Island,” wrote biologist Lidia D’Amico. “I’m contacting the Richmond City Yacht Club [sic] in regards to a July 9 sailing event that took place within 100 yards of Alcatraz Island. NPS [National Park Service] advises all watercraft to maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from the north, south and west shoreline of the island during the seabird breeding season (February-September).

“This past Saturday, we documented this race passing well within 100 yards of the southern end of the island, where we have a nesting bird colony. As a friendly reminder, if this information can be passed on to your club members we would greatly appreciate your cooperation.”

Two Alerion 28s
Did you know that this is a no-no during nesting season?
© 2022 Lidia D’Amico

RYC did forward this message to their membership, and passed it along to us to share with our readers.

Classic M-Class Sloop ‘Pursuit’ Seeks Investors for Rescue

Many Bay Areas sailors remember walking past Ron MacAnnan’s beautiful M-Class sloop Pursuit on the Sausalito boardwalk. She sailed the Bay for 50 years and is the last remaining M-Class sloop in the world. Since Ron’s passing she’s fallen on hard times and is in need of rescue.

M Class sloop Pursuit
The M-Class sloop Pursuit in all her former glory.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

The following is a call to action from the Master Mariners website:

“A local group of wooden boat enthusiasts and supporters is seeking new owner(s) with vision and funding to save Pursuit, the last surviving ‘M-Boat.’ Pursuit is an 82-ft racing yacht designed in 1927 and launched 1929 as Avatar by Abeking Rasmussen, Germany.

“Former Pursuit crew members and a collaboration of wooden boat sailors from the S.F. Bay are seeking investors and interested parties to assist with saving the vessel, now parked on a trailer and in jeopardy of being scrapped due to liens placed on the vessel and other legal actions. More detailed information will be provided to all qualified inquiries.

“’Let’s get the word out! Help us find someone who can save this historical and much-loved classic.’ — Pursuit Supporter

“As recently as June, the group of local supporters had established a tentative arrangement to haul Pursuit for renovation and reconstruction of this famous icon of the Sausalito waterfront (1960-2015). Pursuit is well known, having been raced in many MMBA regattas and sailed on the S.F. Bay for over 50 years by the charismatic Ron MacAnnan.

“The managing shipwright, available work crew, a local yard and former crew members are actively collaborating to find a way forward to save the boat. The vessel now needs a new owner(s) with vision and funding.

“For more information contact Randall von Wedel at [email protected] or +1 510-233-0102.”

You can learn more about Pursuit’s history from this Life on the Water video trailer about Ron MacAnnan.

Good Jibes With Fred Huffman on the Powerful Past of West Coast Sailing

Welcome back to Latitude 38’s podcast, Good Jibes! This week’s host, Ryan Foland, is joined by Fred Huffman to chat about growing up a sailor and the history of West Coast sailing. Fred’s been sailing as long as he can remember and has raced across oceans more times than you can count.

Hear Fred talk about what it was like watching his dad build a boat, sailing off the California coast during World War II, his love for Catalina Island, all the experience that comes with more than 50 years at sea, and why the pressure of racing adds a special spark. This episode covers everything from Catalina to Hawaii to Europe.

Young Fred Huffman with dog
What shaped Fred as a sailor?
© 2022 Fred Huffman

Here’s a small sample of what Ryan and Fred covered in this episode:

  • What are floating dry docks?
  • Could you sail in the harbor during World War II?
  • What was Catalina Island used for during the war?
  • Why is sailing still such a big part of Fred’s life?
  • How many Transpac races has he done?
  • Did he leave school to race?
  • How did his dad build his boat?
  • Short Tacks: What advice does Fred have for West Coast sailors?

Incidentally, both Fred and Ryan are members of the Blue Water Cruising Club. Learn more here:

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and your other favorite podcast spots — follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re feeling the Good Jibes!

Pac Cupdate
As the remnants of Hurricane Darby have passed south of the Hawaiian Islands, the Pacific Cup boats still at sea are dealing with increasingly rainy and squally weather.