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June 12, 2023

More Eye Candy Sailing Ahead With the SF Bay Classic Championship Series

Recently, the Master Mariners Regatta treated us to the sight of many of the Bay Area’s classic sailboats racing across the Bay under full sail. The viewing was spectacular, and next month we get to do it all again with the Belvedere Classic Regatta and Great SF Schooner Race on Saturday, July 15. The event is part of the annual “SF Bay Classic Championship Series” organized by the Master Mariners Benevolent Association, San Francisco Yacht Club, and St. Francis Yacht Club.

Registrations for the race are open, and already a good number of boats are signed up. To date, the list includes Terry Klaus’s schooner Brigadoon, Stacey and Beau Vrolyk’s schooner Mayan, John Egelston’s cutter Water Witch, Neil Gibbs’s Kay of Göteborg (which won the 2022 series), Bryan Kemnitzer’s Knarr Wintersmoon, Martin Koffel and Evan Kereiakes aboard the Bird Boat Kookaburra (are these guys Aussies?), and Michael Zolezzi with the 8-Meter Yucca.

Alan Olson, John Swain, Peter Engler and Jay Grant crewed Seaward to take second place in the Schooner category, 2022.
© 2023 John 'Woody' Skoriak

We expect to see many more boats signed up for the race, based on last year’s results. That race saw many well-known Bay Area schooners, ketches, and yawls line up for the start. Among them were Call of the Sea’s Seaward, Freda B, Sequestor, Jakatan, Cuckoo and others. Even the brigantine Matthew Turner joined the fleet, taking line honors in a division of her own.

Hans List’s Sequestor took on frisky conditions in the 2022 race.
© 2023 John 'Woody' Skoriak

The Belvedere Classic Regatta is open to yachts of classic design, built of wood or steel, and GPR boats designed over 50 years ago. The Great SF Schooner Race is open to all sailing vessels with two or more masts, with the foremast equal to or smaller than the mainmast.

The last event in the championship race series will be October’s Jessica Cup, which is open to boats of traditional design and construction with a minimum of 30-ft on deck, (and other fleets as described in the Notice of Race). The SF Bay Classic Championship Series is open to vessels competing in at least two of the regattas listed above.

In the meanwhile, it’s a busy time for the local classic boat fleet. In amongst all the racing they’ll also be showing off their beauty at the annual Wooden Boat Show this coming Sunday, June 18. This show is a perfect time to see the Bay Area’s classic boats up close and learn about their history, and we encourage you to go!

Sunday, June 18, 2023, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Corinthian Yacht Club, 43 Main Street, Tiburon, CA.

Could This Be the Last Year for the Ha-Ha?

Each year (minus one) for almost three decades, sailors have gathered en masse in San Diego for the annual Baja Ha-Ha Cruisers Rally. And in recent years dockside chatter has included, “How long will the Poobah continue running the event?” This year is Ha-Ha number 29, and today we woke to find a Facebook post in which the Ha-Ha’s Grand Poobah, Richard Spindler, explains the possibility that this year might be the last for this fantastic cruising event. Here’s what we read:

I know that many future southbound cruisers make plans to do the Ha-Ha years in advance, and I also know that a lot of these folks are curious about the future of the event. I have been synonymous with the Ha-Ha since the day I founded it in 1994, so I have some insight.

The Ha-Ha is not a typical sailing event run by a yacht club or some association with built-in continuity, but rather a business I’ve run for 29 years in an extremely hands-on way. I’ve sailed in every Ha-Ha except the second one, which means more than 20,000 Ha-Ha miles, during which time I was on duty herding cats virtually 24 hours a day.

Given my status as the Grand Poobah, I feel that I have a responsibility to advise everyone that I don’t know how much longer the Ha-Ha can continue. And that it’s even possible that this year’s Ha-Ha may be the last.

To set things straight, I absolutely love the Ha-Ha. From writing the bios, to running the nets, to being a pied piper at the parties, to pitching at Turtle Bay, to seeing the smiles of achievement on the finishers in Cabo, to getting shy people dancing at Squid Roe, to egging participants on in the Here to Eternity Kissing contest, and all the other stuff. I live for it.

With over 12,000 sailors having done the Ha-Ha, it’s become an international sailing legend. I’m so proud of it, and just as much so of all the fabulous people who have done one or more Ha-Ha’s and who are now spread out all over the globe. So loving the event is not the issue.

I’m also still in great health, so that’s not an issue either. Nor is the participation of Profligate’s great core crew. Everybody is rarin’ to go for years to come.

No, the thing that would stop me from going forward with the event after this year is finding myself in a position of responsibility for things that I have absolutely no control over. When you’re young, that kind of stuff doesn’t wear on you so much. But when you’re 75, it keeps you up at night.

The Mexican government has been our dear friend all these years, and at times has even given the Ha-Ha monetary support and/or special dispensation. But authorities and policies change, and while branches of the Mexican government are continuing to work with the Ha-Ha, the Ha-Ha path isn’t as smooth as it once was. At some point the path might become impassable or the event have to be recreated in a tortured form.

I am vain to the point where I’d rather let the Ha-Ha slip into history if it can’t be the great event that it always has been. My attitude is do it right or don’t do it at all.

If the Ha-Ha had to be re-imagined in a form unacceptable to me, the only two people I would consider passing the name on to are Patsy Verhoeven, who has been the Assistant Poobah for the last 15 or so years, during which time she’s done every Ha-Ha; and Doña de Mallorca, who has done 25 Ha-Ha’s. While both are absolutely indispensable to the running of the event, neither one of them has any interest whatsoever in becoming the Poobah in a re-imagined event.

Sell the event? Out of the question. I want to emphasize that I’m not stating that this is the last year of the Ha-Ha, but I am giving a heads-up that that is a possibility. I hope it’s not the last because there is nothing more fun to do in the world the first two weeks of November than a Ha-Ha. But if you want to be absolutely sure you are going to be able to do a Ha-Ha, this is the year to do it. If you can’t, keep your fingers crossed for 2024 and beyond. My fingers will be crossed along with yours.

Thank you for understanding.

Richard Spindler
Grand Poobah

Baja Ha-Ha 2023


Finding the ‘Freedom Kirkland’ — Do You Know This Location?

Hey there, map-loving sailors! Our friends in the South, who like to play games, sent us their latest edition of “Where is Freedom Kirkland?” So it’s time to stretch those minds and tell us where this photo was taken.

Freedom Kirkland dinghy
The photo is dark, because it was taken in a dark place …
© 2023 Kirk Wagner

Here’s an aerial view of the surrounds.

Isla San Augustin
We’ll give you a hint: It’s somewhere along the Mexico mainland shoreline — west coast, of course.
© 2023 Kirk Wagner

Transpac 2023 — The Big Guns

In this month’s Latitude 38, Bay Area sailor Andy Schwenk gives us a great preview of this year’s upcoming Transpac Race, along with some insights on life aboard, mid-race.

On June 24, under the big guns of USS Iowa, the fastest guns in the West Coast sailing fleet will gather for the Aloha send-off party marking 95 years since the inaugural voyage of the legendary Transpac Race.

Tom Furlong’s Vitesse, a 52-ft Reichel/Pugh sled packed full of ocean racing fury, will be back looking to turn the wick up just one more notch to turn their second place in the COVID-depleted fleet of 2021 into a first-place pickle dish. Roy Disney and the well-seasoned Pyewacket boys have parked their modified Volvo 70 weapon and splashed the “Old Man’s” boat for another round. Last time out they performed a rescue at sea for a competitor and received US Sailing’s highest award. Yes, she’s fast enough for you …

A quad set of J/125s will try to accomplish their feat of 2019, finishing first, second, and third overall.

Tom Holthus’s Botin 56 BadPak has added four feet since their 2017 win, and the Big Green Machine will be eating all their vegetables to prepare for another victory run.

The 2015 winner, James McDowell’s Santa Cruz 70 Grand Illusion, is back to compete with 70-ish-ft vessels from as far away as British Columbia — well, that’s actually in North America and it’s more British than it is Columbian. Stu and Joy Dahlgren aboard the SC70 Westerly can explain. Just to keep things confusing, there will be two Westerlys in the race this summer, both from the old chicken coop in Santa Cruz, at 52-ft and 70-ft respectively. Dave Moore’s SC52 Westerly has been modded to the point that she rates nearly what the 70s did in their original configuration.

transpac boat
James McDowell’s Santa Cruz 70 Grand Illusion returns to follow up her 2015 win.
© 2023 Jeremy Leonard

At the other end of the fleet, the pride of Richmond YC, Dean Treadway, will rally the lovely, bright-finished Sweet Okole, his venerable Farr 36, one more time. Also hailing from the East Bay, Capt. Cree Partridge, head honcho at Berkeley Marine Center, will be piloting the Antrim 40 Glass Slipper on her maiden voyage. Splashed in the same mold as the mighty California Condor, this vessel should fly over wave tops much the same way.

The lone entry representing the fairer sex will be Marie Rogers aboard her Andrews 56 Good Trouble.

The class breaks are not out until after this publication deadline. This prevents me from making a bunch of bold predictions, but I can tell you this: The first time I raced across the pond in the 1982 Victoria to Maui race, we spread pilot charts out on the floor of our living room, and several other skippers who had done the race in years previous brought their old plotting sheets and charts of the Eastern Pacific, which were plumb full of holes from thumbtacks and dividers. Now, yachts lay pixels all over the internet and computers are churning out numbers, percentages and angles until the navigator needs to wear sunglasses to focus on the screen.

Go to to read Andy’s description of the typical life aboard during a Transpac race.

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