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August 17, 2022

Ronnie Simpson’s New Ride

“Right after this Open 50 dropped in my lap, I had to go to sea for 16 days,” writes Ronnie Simpson, a regular contributor to Latitude 38. He went to sea to deliver the Santa Cruz 52 City Lights back from Oahu to San Francisco following the Pacific Cup.

Ronnie Simpson
Ronnie Simpson, aboard City Lights during the recent Pac Cup delivery.
© 2022 City Lights

But Ronnie has “hit the ground running” with his latest, most exciting and ambitious project. “In October of 2023, I will be setting sail in the inaugural edition of the Global Solo Challenge race from Spain back to Spain. This is a solo, nonstop around-the-world race, though pit stops can be made. The first boat home wins. This boat is an older Open 50 that completed two solo races around the world and was then owned by Philippe Kahn as Pegasus. Most recently, she was sailed 17,000 miles solo from California to Maine with current owner Whitall Stokes. I will now be taking control of the boat for two years.”

Sparrow splash
The Open 50 Sparrow splashes through a wave during Whitall Stokes’ journey from San Francisco Bay around Cape Horn in 2020-2021.
© 2022 Whitall Stokes

“In the few days that I’ve been on land, we have made great strides in making this first week of sea trials a success. On August 22-27, I am flying out to Maine with a pro sailor from Hawaii and a media man from the East Coast. The owner will also be there, and we will sea-trial the boat and practice for four days so that we can then dial in our business plans, sponsorship goals and budgetary requirements. On September 1, we aim to launch a professionally built website that will include professional media content and fundraising photography and video. The site will also have sponsor packets, business plans and more.

“After the official campaign launch in early September, we will begin campaigning the boat south from deep-draft yacht club to deep-draft yacht club, conducting fundraising speaking presentations while taking members of the community sailing. We aim to take as many people sailing as we possibly can over the following months. As well as exposing the public to this type of sailing and this type of race, we aim to promote veterans’ sailing, environmental conservation, and diversity in sailing. We will continue south until we reach the Caribbean and compete in some crewed racing with donors aboard, including the Caribbean 600. From there, it’s a quick trip back to Maine to complete a final re-fit, then a solo passage to Europe for the start.”

Sparrow at the dock
Sparrow rests up, awaiting her next adventure.
© 2022 Whitall Stokes

“As a combat-wounded veteran, I will also be sailing to benefit the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization US Patriot Sailing and can accept charitable campaign contributions through their website. I set up a GoFundMe account and have already reached over $14,000 of my initial goal of $25,000 in seed money. We have raised close to $20,000 in just a handful of days, which is both incredible and inspiring. The outpouring of support that I am already receiving for this endeavor is truly heartwarming and makes me believe even more that this is something we can pull off. I am so grateful for everyone’s support. I will represent Hawaii Yacht Club in the race.

“While preparing for the first trip to Maine, I formed Ronnie Simpson Racing, LLC, to handle the business side of this campaign. The initial entry fee to the race was paid this morning, so we will soon be listed on their website. We have ordered crew gear to present a professional appearance, and we have secured a sailing crew, media crew, web builder and shore manager. We have also signed on a handful of sponsors including Colligo Marine. Used TP52 spinnakers out of Hawaii have been secured as additional delivery and practice kites. Tickets to Maine are booked. The boat was splashed a few days ago after an extensive time being rebuilt in the shed under the renowned hands of Brian Harris and his crew at Maine Yacht Center.

“This is a pretty huge undertaking. I am pushing hard to secure an additional $10,000 to the GoFundMe account, which is https://gofund.me/62f14b4d. The nonprofit donation link is www.uspatriotsailing.org/Donation-Form.” Until the new website is up and running, catch up with Ronnie on Instagram @captainron_official.

Latitude 38’s Crew List Party — The Best Way To Meet New Sailing Friends

Do you have your ticket for the upcoming Latitude 38 Crew List Party? This is the sailing event of the season and will take place on September 1 at the Spaulding Marine Center in Sausalito. Sailors, friends of sailors, soon-to-become sailors and all sorts of people will be mingling and chatting, and forming new connections and friendships, all in the name of sailing together.

Several sailing partners will also be there to introduce you to the various programs they operate across the Bay Area: San Francisco Sailing Science Center will be there and will set up an entertaining and educational exhibit. Last September they brought their grinding station and invited individuals and teams to race against the clock, and each other.

Elliott James
Elliott James rocked the Science and Sailing Center grinder with a winning time of 7.46 seconds.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The US Coast Guard will be joining the fun with District 11’s Douglas Samp ready to answer all your questions, and to provide information and tips on USCG procedures and boating safety. (A good idea, particularly for those heading south with this year’s Baja Ha-Ha.)

Island Yacht Club is joining us this year and will be promoting their annual Women’s Sailing Seminar — an event that is definitively by women, for women. If you’re thinking about signing up, this is a great opportunity to learn more about what will take place over the September 10 -11 weekend.

And, as the crew list party is being held at Spaulding Marine Center, this will be an ideal opportunity to learn more about the center’s history, and the work it does in training future marine technicians and hosting local youth through its summer camps and in-term school programs. You’ll also be able to learn more about their fleet of volunteer-built Pelicans and the community sailing program.

The Spaulding crew and volunteers will also host the bar, with all proceeds going to benefit their education programs.

Crew party
The venue will be different, but the fun and enthusiasm will be just the same, or even better!
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Our crew parties are geared toward bringing the sailing community together and helping people find sailing opportunities for cruising, racing, or daysailing. It’s like a social media group, only much better. Whether you’re a boat owner seeking crew who want to head south to Mexico, or a sailor who wants to find a boat to join, or you want to sail in the coming midwinters, this is a perfect way to meet people before you cast off.

Many sailors have met at a Latitude 38 crew party and forged long-lasting friendships and sailing connections. And if you’re still undecided, check out the wrap-up from last year’s event, held at the Bay Model.

Date and Time: The party, on September 1, starts at 6 p.m.; tickets are $10.

Admission for the Mexico Cruising seminar is $10, or $20 for both.

Each skipper and first mate registered for the 2022 Baja Ha-Ha gets free entry to the Fall Crew List Party and Mexico Cruising seminar. Admission includes free munchies, entry to a door-prize raffle, and a sailing slide show.

Get your tickets here.

Parking: There is parking around Spaulding — please use the Parking Map to find parking. Please do not park at Clipper Yacht Harbor.

See you there!

 

Good Jibes Episode #53: Brian Crawford on Exploring Shipwrecks

Welcome to Good Jibes Episode #53. We’re casting off with Brian Crawford and Latitude 38 publisher and host, John Arndt, to chat about researching shipwrecks and battling the elements at sea.

Brian is an author, historian, and open-space activist who has done extensive research on famous and undocumented shipwrecks throughout Marin County. His own sailing experience includes taking a schooner down the East Coast into a hurricane, meeting his wife in Tonga, and serving as a navigator in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Brian Crawford
At minute 32:38 find out what shipwrecks are in Marin County.
© 2022 Brian Crawford

Hear how to brave the elements, persevere when taking damage, and avoid shipwrecks, and about the most fascinating shipwrecks in Marin County and Brian’s adventures hunting for treasure without pay.

This episode covers everything from shipwrecks to giant schooners. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:

  • How did Brian end up in Haight-Ashbury?
  • Did he have any sailing experience before his first long passage?
  • How big was the biggest schooner he’s sailed?
  • What’s the history of Marin County shipwrecks?
  • Were there any lifeboats in the wrecks?
  • What’s the most dangerous area to sail in Marin County?
  • Are there any wrecks in the Farallon Islands?
  • Short Tacks: What’s a story on Brian’s radar today?

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!

Explore shipwrecks with Brian on October 1, 2022, here: https://tidelinetickets.checkfront.com/reserve/?preview=1&item_id=165.

The Unique Controversy Over the Proposed Treasure Island Toll

In recent weeks we’ve written a couple of stories about Treasure Island and the proposed tolls that would supposedly help reduce traffic issues. One is a tongue-in-cheek peek at the possible future of the Bay Area, the other a serious look at what is being proposed. We also shared information about April’s free webinar on the future of Treasure Island. The following story appears in our April issue, and is of a serious nature. We encourage you to read and learn a little more about the proposal currently under review.

As a new development on Treasure Island blossoms into a new 8,000-home neighborhood smack in the middle of the Bay, local governments are bracing for the corresponding surge in traffic, and are looking for ways to curb congestion. The City of San Francisco has proposed a controversial — some would say outrageous — measure meant to both discourage driving to the island and fund public-transit options, such as a ferry servicing TI.

Treasure Island plan
An artist’s rendering of the new Treasure Island development.
© 2022 San Francisco County Transportation Authority

This $5 toll to both enter and exit Treasure Island would take effect in 2024, and has caused an uproar not just in the sailing community, but also among current residents, businesses and outdoors people of all stripes. The entry-and-exit fee could be especially detrimental to the Treasure Island Sailing Center. “A toll of this magnitude would dismantle the community that we have worked hard to build over the past 20 years,” TISC said in a statement.

The idea for the toll seems to have come out of nowhere.

We spoke with a government official closely involved in the initial phases of the development who told us that there was absolutely no mention of a $5 toll when plans were first introduced around 10 years ago. The City of San Francisco negotiated with the State Lands Commission — the agency tasked with ensuring access to California’s public land — to allow developers to build housing in exchange for improved open spaces, such as a shoreline park and public viewing spots. “At no time in those discussions was there an objective to reduce use,” the government official told us, referring to tolls meant to discourage driving. “It’s really poorly thought through, and no one can say who benefits or who pays.”

Last year, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission also echoed concerns about the mysterious toll. In 2021, BCDC wrote a letter to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which is governed by the S.F. Board of Supervisors, saying that when developers applied for their permit in 2016, they did not mention a toll. “This information was not provided at the time the Commission approved [the permit],” BCDC said, adding that because of the potential for such a toll to affect public use of the shoreline park planned for Treasure Island — and required of the BCDC permit that authorizes its construction — BCDC staff has advised SFCTA that a permit will be required for the tolling program. Clearly, there are details to be worked out at the highest levels.

We have also heard several critics of the proposed toll say that the City of San Francisco “let the developers off the hook” by not securing a long-term, privately funded ferry as part of the TI project. Any major development involves lengthy negotiations over the terms. The details of the Treasure Island agreement, especially the particulars about whether the ferry would be paid for by developers, taxpayers, or a mix of both, may have changed as different mayors cycled through City Hall, which is a normal part of the development process.

But the final iteration of the deal triggered a lawsuit over environmental concerns.

Continue reading at Latitude38.com.

West Marine US Open Sailing Series Wraps in San Francisco

San Francisco Bay dished up three beautiful, breezy days this past weekend for spectacular heavy-air racing as the West Marine US Open Sailing Series concluded in San Francisco. The six-race series included three events in Florida and three in California — and awarded over $49,000 in prize money to sailors in the Olympic classes. The series is part of an ongoing push by Paul Cayard, Executive Director of US Sailing, to develop high-level dinghy regattas in the Olympic classes to challenge rising stars as they strive to compete at the international Olympic level.

Much of the windsurfing, foiling, and kiting world has been pioneered on the West Coast, but when it comes to international competition, the number of competitors available to challenge anyone’s personal development skills tilts heavily toward Europe. With the Summer Olympics coming to Long Beach in 2028, the series is aimed at raising the bar for US competitors well in advance of the future California Olympics. There’s an active high school and collegiate circuit in California with many teams placing well nationally, but this series, started in 2021, is a needed addition to the national dinghy circuit. High school and college provide competitive tactical training grounds, but generally not in the Olympic classes, so another forum is required to take that next step.

iQFoil
A far cry from the teak-boomed Windsurfer of the ’70s, the foiling iQFoil class is ramping up for Olympic stardom.
© 2022 Allison Chenard

The past weekend’s regatta included two race courses featuring the iQFoil and Formula Kite fleets organized by the St. Francis Yacht Club on the Cityfront, and the ILCA and 470 events run by the San Francisco Yacht Club on the Berkeley Circle. Formula Kites and iQFoils sailed Friday through Sunday, while the San Francisco Yacht Club fleets raced Saturday and Sunday. Race committees were able to complete 50 races across all classes.

The Formula Kite racers battled gusty breezes and high-speed collisions throughout the weekend. Alameda’s Kai Calder, who won the class in 2021, again dominated the competition, winning nine of the 13 races to take first place. Texas native Noah Ruciman came in second with 23 points, while Mexican national Xantos Villegas took third with 27 points. As the top three men, each qualified for prize money.

The top three women in the Formula Kite classes were also eligible for prize money: Kirstyn O’Brien in first, Olympic Development Program (ODP) athlete and Bay Area native Daniela Moroz in second, and Canadian Martyna Dakowicz rounding out the podium in third.

Daniela Moroz
Daniela Moroz showed her usual winning form, but ended up second in the women’s division.
© 2022 Allison Chenard

In the iQFoil class, ODP athlete Maverick Putnam had a consistent weekend, winning the event with 21 points. Dominican sailor Samuel Perez Hults, a regular face at the West Marine US Open Sailing Series, came in second with 26 points. Putnam’s ODP teammate Ethan Froelich rounded out the podium in third with 32 points.

iQFoil
With more iQFoil racing on the West Coast, there’s a better path for those who want to join the fun.
© 2022 Allison Chenard

The ILCA (formerly Laser) fleets were small, with out-of-towners taking home most of the silver. Bringing the competition west ups the game and creates ideal, heavy-air training for all Olympic aspirants. This same weekend, in Vilamoura, Portugal, there were 426 ILCA 4s racing in the Youth World Championships. We have a long way to go before we have that kind of competition here, but you have to start somewhere, and it’s now underway.

ODP sailors saw success in the ILCA 7 fleet this weekend, with Jack Baldwin taking first and Guthrie Braun taking second with six and eight points, respectively. James Golden of Annapolis Yacht Club rounded out the podium in third with 13 points.

ILCA
The ILCA (Laser) was the boat that created some of the Bay’s best sailors, and it remains one of the most active, competitive fleets in the world and on the Bay.
© 2022 Lexi Pline

Just three young 470 teams fought for first place this weekend. Alec Van Kerckhove and Josh Goldberg came out ahead, winning the two-day event with six points. Tied with 11 points, Mason Stang and Timmy Gee won the tiebreaker to take second, while Kyra Phelan and Sawyer Bastian took third. Phelan and Sawyer were awarded prize money as the only mixed 470 team.

470 San Francisco Bay
Kyra Phelan and Sawyer Bastian were working hard and staying refreshed in the chilly Bay spray.
© 2022 Lexi Pline

Lauderdale Yacht Club sailors filled the podium in the ILCA 6 fleet. Kai Vurno dominated the two-day event, winning every race and finishing with a total of five points. LYC teammates Connor McHugh and Audrey Foley came in second and third, with 11 and 13 points, respectively.

As the Olympic configuration, the top three women sailing in the ILCA 6 fleet were eligible for prize money: Audrey Foley took first prize, while Sarah Young took second and Avery Baldwin took third.

The ILCA 4 fleet is where some West Coast sailors shone, with Balboa Yacht Club sailor Sienna Nichols having a banner event this past weekend, winning all races but one in the ILCA 4 fleet. Balboa Yacht Club teammate Emily Otto took second with nine points, while San Francisco Yacht Club local Max Bramfield took third with 16 points.

470 fleet
There’s nothing like challenging yourself on the wire of a 470 on San Francisco Bay.
© 2022 Lexi Pline

In the Open Kite Foil class, competitors have no restrictions on the equipment used in competition. Lief Given commanded the class, taking first with nine points. Oakland local Amil Kabil came in second with 34 points, and Trevor Nelson rounded out the podium in third with 39 points.

Kiteboarding
Kiteboarding on San Francisco Bay is almost “old school,” but now it’s an Olympic class that will compete in France in 2024.
© 2022 Lexi Pline

California’s sailing history is filled with international world champions, America’s Cup winners and many Olympic medalists. With magnificent training grounds from San Diego to San Francisco the West Marine US Sailing Open Series is here to build the foundation of future Olympic success in Long Beach in 2028. The seeds are being planted, with lots of room to grow.

Yacht Racing in the San Juans
Blue skies, sunshine and predictions of winds of 8-10 knots had racers smiling in anticipation of a perfect day for the 50th annual Shaw Island Classic.
A Late Night Adventure
Marga Pretorius found herself surrounded by a squall while anchored in Salsipuedes, Mexico, and came dangerously close to the nearby rocks.