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May 12, 2023

Baja Ha-Ha XXIX Registrations Cast Off to a Healthy Start

When we put out the word to “stand by” for the opening of the 2023 Baja Ha-Ha registrations, we weren’t kidding. Once the starting horn blew, the sailors were hauling a** and filled the first 51 spots in the first 20 hours. We call that a healthy start!

The Poobah was guessing there would be 41 in the first 24 hours. Assistant Poobah Patsy Verhoeven, veteran of 15 Ha-Ha’s, guessed 51. But the entries didn’t stop there; the list currently sits at 57 boats heading to Mexico. This includes nine catamarans. “It could be a record cat year,” the Poobah wrote. And while there hasn’t been time to analyze the entries, Patsy did note that “almost everyone” said they would have Starlink.

Is the Poobah hoping for a record fleet? Not at all. “The quality of the fleet is much more important than the quantity.

“That said,” the Poobah added, “it’s a great-looking fleet.”

Baja Ha-Ha fleet in Mexico
One of the most fun things about the Ha-Ha is that for much of the time you’ll be in sight of several other boats.
© 2023

Here are a few of the boats and crews that have already signed up:

Dave and Michelle Opheim from Alameda signed up to sail aboard their Catalina 42 MkII Endless Summer. We met them at the boat show last weekend and they were already counting the hours to the sign-up time. They were hoping to be the number-two signup after Scott and Jill Stephens of the Catana 47 L’Avventura, who are the honorary #1 Ha-Ha registrants. Dave and Michelle didn’t get the #2 spot, but they are the sixth boat to be signed up for this year’s cruisers’ rally. Well done, guys!

Farther on down the list are Kim Eddy and Lena Fluharty aboard the Island Packet 440 Amazing Grace III. These sailors call both Seattle and San Diego home. Even farther along are Talisa, a Fountaine Pajot 47 skippered by Christopher Schwerzler from Kapaau, Hawaii, and Jeffrey and Lynn Venier from Queen Creek, AZ, aboard their Californian 45 Sundowner. There are also sailors from Utah, Montana, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois … they’re coming in from all over the US … and Canada, with more than one boat signed up from British Columbia and other parts of the country.

This is warming up to be a humdinger of a Ha-Ha. The kind of rally you won’t want to miss. And neither do we! Does anyone want to take a Latitude 38 sailor aboard?

You can check out who’s who for yourself at Baja, then slide on over to the registrations page and add yourself to the list.

We’re pretty sure that Steven and Karen Kittle, who joined the 2018 Ha-Ha aboard the Beneteau Oceanis 35.1 Parrrot Head, echoed the feelings of Ha-Ha sailors across the years when they wrote, “We had a blast on the Ha-Ha!”

Where Did All Those SailGP Spectators Come From?

The weather broke in the nick of time, and people turned out from all over to see the dominating performance of Team Australia and Tom Slingsby in the San Francisco SailGP Final. We walked the line with copies of the May issue of Latitude 38 before the 1:30 event opening to discover who was watching and where they were from. There were lots of sailors and lots of Latitude 38 readers, but also lots of folks from farther afield. We spoke with people from Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada, Delaware, Wisconsin, New York, Washington, Florida, Texas and more. It was a pretty eclectic crowd. We grabbed some shots of folks with their friends and new Latitudes as they waited for the big show.

San Francisco Science and Sailing
The crew from San Francisco Science Sailing Center, Maggie Garside Heilman, Kevin Hicks, Jim Hancock, and Michael Law, were staffing the Inspire booth for SailGP.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

A sellout crowd filled the grandstands inside the event area, filled the Golden Gate and St. Francis Yacht Clubs, and had sailors lining the wall along Crissy Field to the west. We had a great time talking with spectators and reminding them that they can pick up their Latitudes at their favorite marine businesses along the California coastline. One sailor said, “I read it online. I didn’t know they printed it anymore.” Dang, we know it’s a busy world and it’s hard to keep track of all the reading out there, so we want to remind you digital readers that the relaxing world of print is as close as your friendly harbormaster or chandler’s office.

Jeanneau 49 Perception
Brother and sister Mike and Beth Marangola were up from Southern California. Mike, who learned to sail at Cal Sailing in Berkeley, keeps his Jeanneau 49 Perception in Channel Islands Harbor, but has recently had her in San Diego. He also told us he enjoys our Good Jibes podcasts on the drive down.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Long line to SailGP
We had a great time talking with SailGP fans in the long line to get into the event.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Darsey and Roger Betschart Cheryl Mair
Darsey and Roger Betschart were here from Bermuda to see their daughter Rachael race in the Waszp class and met Cheryl Mair from Australia, who was here to watch her daughter, Seisia, race as well. Results here.
© 2023 John
Latitude 38
There was time to relax and read in the sun while waiting to enter the SailGP venue.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Eric Kalkowski
We met Eric Kaldowski from the Central Valley, who keeps the family Catalina 27, Freedom, in Morro Bay. His 11-year-old son is sailing Optis with MBYC.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Did we draw any conclusions from the stroll along the wall? Sailors are nice people. There were quite a few non-sailors who came as event fans, including one gentleman who said he was in the Navy and asked, “Does that count?” He said, “I remember some ‘sailing’ terms. Port, I think that’s the front of the boat.” Well, all sailors continue to learn, but he may have more to learn than many.

Latitude 38
Though the magazines are free, these guys opted to share one. By the way, the SAilGP fan store seemed to be doing a brisk business in hats!
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Speed, drama, close calls and world-renowned skippers assembled this far-flung crowd of sailors. Many were cruisers, and the youth were often dinghy, skiff and foiling fans. Speed does get attention, but for the sailors in attendance, a comfortable daysail on a Catalina 27 still appeared to be the main attraction for participating. Are non-sailing spectators ever going to find their way to a sailboat, or is this just another channel on the remote?

Sausalito sailor and now St. Francis YC coach and Waszp Inspire videographer Sophie Salvadori-Roam was capturing the action at the media center.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
These two families of Sabot and 420 sailors came up from San Diego. One junior sailor told the story of SailGP crewmember Cooper Dressler shaving his SDYC coach’s head on a bet after Dressler won the Sabot Nationals.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Sailing at 50 knots is not for everyone, but regardless of how you like to sail or even if you don’t sail at all, SailGP remains a dramatic spectacle for the shoreside crowd. Season 4 kicks off in Chicago on the weekend of June 16–17, with hints that a 10th team will join the fray. Following that, SailGP comes right back to California with an event on July 22–23 in Los Angeles. See you there?

Do Latitude 38 Classy Classifieds Work?

Do Latitude 38 Classy Classified ads work? Ask Mark and Patty Thompson, who listed their Catalina 470 Agave Azul just ahead of winning the Banderas Bay Regatta. They got a call within one day of placing their ad and sold the boat. They had a backup offer a day later. They also won the regatta, saying, “Race your boat like it’s sold!”

Catalina 470 Agave Azul
Mark and Patty Thompson and the winning crew of Agave Azul — they sold the boat and then won the regatta.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

If you’re looking to buy or sell (or even just looking), check out Latitude 38‘s Classy Classifieds. And don’t wait! The boat you’re looking at might sell before you “get around to” making the call.

Deadline to include your boat in the June issue is May 15 at 5:00 p.m.

The Ageless Tradition of Master Mariners Racing: A Stark Contrast to SailGP

As the excitement of last weekend’s sailing activity slows to a more manageable Bay Area pace, we’re reminded of the stark contrasts among the modern-day athleticism of SailGP’s foiling catamarans, the gentler movements of the Great Vallejo Race fleet, and the beauty of the traditional, wooden vessels gearing up for this month’s Master Mariners Regatta. Our thoughts led us to consider where the art of sailboat racing began, and we turned to our own pages for the answer. In May’s Latitude 38, Martha Blanchfield shares some of the history behind Bay Area racing and the Master Mariners.

People often ask, “When did sailboat racing start on San Francisco Bay?” The answer is, about the time the second sailboat arrived. With the annual Memorial Day weekend Master Mariners Race on the calendar for May 27, we thought it a good time to revisit the roots of San Francisco sailing and the Master Mariners Benevolent Association (MMBA).

Master Mariner's boat
St. Francis YC staff commodore Terry Klaus and daughter Lindsey, aboard the 1924 Herreshoff schooner Brigadoon, are part of the foundation of the MMBA. [See correction] 
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
San Francisco has a long and deep sailing heritage rooted in the depths of the Bay and beyond. In March 1848, roughly 157,000 people lived in the California territory: 150,000 Indigenous Americans, 6,500 of Spanish or Mexican descent, and fewer than 800 non-Indigenous Americans. San Francisco itself was a small settlement of 1,000 people. Once residents learned about the discovery of gold in 1848, they rushed to the Sierra foothills. By 1850, the census had swelled to 25,000 from an influx of merchants and fortune-seekers. Thousands came to strike it rich. The first to arrive via ship came from the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) and Latin America. Of approximately 300,000 to migrate between 1848 and 1855, roughly half came by sea from points around America, Latin America, Europe, Australia and China.

A journey that started on the East Coast meant a 15,000-mile passage around Cape Horn. The alternate route passed along the Atlantic Coast south to Panama, across the 60-mile Panama Isthmus, and finally again by ship, north along the Pacific coast. Companies providing ocean transportation included the US Mail Steamship Company, which carried US mail from New York City to New Orleans and Havana, then on to the Isthmus of Panama. In 1850, the company extended its route to San Francisco by adding a Pacific line of steamers. The federally subsidized Pacific Mail Steamship Company and Accessory Transit Company also brought passengers to San Francisco. Still more were transported by steamship from New York City through overland portages in Nicaragua and Panama, then north. Supply ships arrived. Hundreds of private vessels arrived, many with a one-way destination, which were then hastily abandoned and left to rot as crews deserted and raced to the gold fields. One estimate states 500 to 1000 ships once moored in the San Francisco harbor.

Continue reading at

Correction: St. Francis staff commodore John McNeill helpfully pointed out in our comments section that our original caption was wrong when it said, “Beau Vrolyk is the current steward of David Crosby’s former schooner Mayan.”  To see that caption you’ll have to read the story in the magazine. Thanks John. 

Faces in the Crowd
While many of our readers were spectating at SailGP in San Francisco or browsing at the Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show in Redwood City, others were racing to Vallejo and back, preferring athletic action to passive participation.
The World Famous L38
Get onboard for this month's 'Caption Contest(!)' …