Our plans for the first weekend of summer are relatively simple. We’ll do the Friday night beer can races and sail with friends on Saturday. Sunday, we plan to head out to watch the start of the 2023 Singlehanded Transpac Race. Now that’s a different way to start your summer of sailing. The weekend forecast for the Bay Area looks breezy with some cool fog, but also mostly clearing for some sun and fun, brisk sailing. Conditions may vary.
Eighteen boats plan to start the SHTP for the 2400-nautical-mile sail on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. off the Golden Gate Yacht Club. Boats range in size from 27- to 42-ft and will take about two weeks to complete the course, plus or minus several days depending on the boat and the racing conditions. Brendan Huffman did the SHTP in 2021 and is back to do it again this year. He talked about it in one of our first Good Jibes podcasts. Listen here.
If you head out on Sunday morning to cheer them on, give them a wide berth. They’re racing and only have one person aboard, giving them limited maneuverability. Plus, they need to be well-rested for the 2400 miles of sailing ahead.
For the rest of us, there will be picnics at Angel Island, anchoring at Clipper Cove or Paradise Cove, or the opportunity for a nice long daysail in the classic Bay loop. We’ll be thankful we’re not managing tropical storm Bret in the Caribbean or 114-degree heat in Texas. Thinking about that helps you appreciate wearing a little fleece on San Francisco Bay.
Our May 2008 story, Guide to Bay Sailing, outlines the course that usually keeps the Bay breezes manageable and captures all the spectacular views and vistas around the Bay. If you leave very early Saturday morning, you’ll catch the Doublehanded Farallones racers heading out for a loop around the islands, and later you’ll catch the Half Moon Bay race heading out the Gate, or the Knarrs and Folkboats racing in the StFYC Woodies Invitational. And if you’re running down alongside Crissy Field after the breeze picks up, you’ll have plenty of wing foilers, kiteboarders and windsurfers leaping off your wake.
Summertime is sailing time, so we’re looking forward to a weekend on the Bay. We hope we see you out there on Summer Sailstice weekend. If you snag some photos of your weekend of sailing, send them here.
Along with many news outlets, we recently reported on the unusual number of incidents of orca strikes on boats off Gibraltar. This has led to speculation that the whales are teaching each other how to do this and that perhaps it’s retribution for our intrusion on the sea, or possibly just games. In this latest incident, as with all mischievous acts, the perpetrators attempt a getaway to avoid the limelight. If the orcas were hoping to hide their tracks, they made a mistake in attacking the VO65s racing in The Ocean Race, one of which happened to catch them on video as they bit the rudder of the VO65 Team JAJO.
The video includes the same “inappropriate” language we all might use while being attacked or being playmates for orcas.
Team JAJO and Mirpuri Trifork Racing reported being approached by orcas around 1450 UTC. The teams subsequently contacted Race Control to confirm there had been no injuries and no damage to their boats, despite the orcas pushing up against the boats, or in at least one case ramming into them and nudging or biting at the rudders.
“Twenty minutes ago, we got hit by some orcas,” Team JAJO skipper Jelmer van Beek said after the incident. “Three orcas came straight at us and started hitting the rudders. Impressive to see the orcas, beautiful animals, but also a dangerous moment for us as a team. We took down the sails and slowed down the boat as quickly as possible, and luckily, after a few attacks, they went away … This was a scary moment.”
As reported earlier, many boats have been attacked (or played with) and damaged, with three being sunk. None of the orca attacks or sinkings have resulted in a loss of life.
For the scientifically inclined, the Ocean Race provided a link to an article in Scientific American with more detailed hypotheses about the puzzling orca behavior.
Both VO65s emerged a bit rattled but unscathed and have carried on racing to Genoa, Italy.
Given the history of the many unresolved whale strikes, there have been many discussions on whether the boats are ramming whales or the whales are ramming boats. Team JAJO plans to bring the video evidence to a personal injury lawyer after writing down an 800 number from the back of a passing Muni bus. Even though the evidence appears black and white, many see some gray zones.
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Last weekend’s PICYA Lipton Cup delivered a variety of conditions from a practically textbook Friday, to a fog-clouded Saturday, and a heavy-weather Sunday. Race crews from the St. Francis, San Fransisco, Sausalito, Richmond, Encinal, Berkeley, Inverness, South Beach and Corinthian yacht clubs were matched aboard StFYC’s fleet of 10 J/22s.
The three-day regatta began in front of St. Francis Yacht Club on Friday, June 16, with a distance race to the Knox area west of Angel Island. Race rules required the helmsperson to be age 60 or above.
Saturday delivered a gloomy day with 18-knot winds. No spinnakers were allowed for the last of the day’s seven races .
The final day arrived with ample sunshine, consistent wind and lumpy water conditions. Sunday was designated women drivers’ day, and this time, the last two races were sailed without spinnakers. By the end of the third race crews were soaked from the white water and waves stirred up by the gusting winds.
Island Yacht Club’s Ros de Vries was sailing for Encinal, and on Sunday her boat was skippered by Karissa Peth, who was enjoying her first time sailing a J/22.
“[She] crushed the heavy-weather sailing,” Ros wrote us. “We got two fourth-place finishes on Sunday — and could have done better, if we hadn’t made a team bet on heading to the Cityfront first (vs. heading to the North Tower) from Harding Rock during the long-distance race. Her driving was super.”
Keep an eye out for the July issue of Latitude 38 for Christine Weaver’s full report and results in Racing Sheet.
The calls of “Aye, aye, Sir,” can once again be heard from the hard-working crew on the square-rigger Balclutha. These hearty cries onboard the ship didn’t come from seasoned mariners, but rather from enthusiastic fourth and fifth graders participating in the nonprofit San Francisco Maritime National Park Association’s recently revived Age of Sail educational day program.
On a crisp spring morning, the children were diligently following the guidance of the Association’s watchful “officers,” being given instruction on rigging, bell ringing, and learning about the history of this antique vessel, most active during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Age of Sail program, which was on hiatus for three years due to COVID, has triumphantly returned, once again taking place along San Francisco’s historical Fisherman’s Wharf at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and Hyde Street Pier. Children engaging in the Age of Sail can imagine traveling back in time to Balclutha’s heyday, replete with the sights and sounds of a bygone era.
The sparkling waters, gulls, and cool, salt air of the Bay provide participants with a breathtakingly beautiful backdrop for learning and having fun. These activities are not only great for deepening maritime knowledge and providing valuable lessons on cooperation, but also give children the opportunity to absorb rich aspects of history in a novel, hands-on way. The chance for participative, active learning has been a truly memorable and life-changing experience for many young people across California. However, the Age of Sail is not the only program to have been renewed.
Another recently returned program is the Association’s Youth Boat Building program, which preserves traditional boatbuilding methods while teaching young people valuable job skills. The program is organized in partnership with Downtown High School and Get Out and Learn. High schoolers are welcomed to the maritime heritage learning center to learn how to build a traditional rowing dory. “I enjoyed building a boat and learning to row,” said Kayla, who participated in the shipbuilding program. “The instructors are passionate, and it spreads to the students. This program has improved my ability to work with others and to know how to handle new things. I believe these skills are applicable anywhere in the real world.”
Passersby down by Aquatic Park can spot the fleet of dories from the shipbuilding program floating from mooring balls. (If you would like to own one of these hand-built skiffs, the education director is certain to sell you one! Contact Laura by email at [email protected].)
During the summer, these vessels are used to teach young campers how to row as part of the Maritime Summer Camp, and to introduce them to all the waterfront has to offer. This includes enjoying plenty of fresh air and getting the chance to observe local wildlife, such as the brown pelicans that dive for fish in the Bay. Maritime Summer Camp runs from June 12 through August 11, and is packed with rowing, sailing, and adventuring. All green hands ages 8 to 13 looking for an exciting summer on the water are welcome and encouraged to have their parents head over to www.maritime.org/education to learn more and sign up now.
Not only do participants enjoy maritime activities on the Bay, but they also get to visit the Aquarium of the Bay, learn about preservation, experience the collections at the San Francisco Maritime Museum, and get a window into the deep cultural history of San Francisco by visiting the park’s exhibit on the Yelamu indigenous people.
In addition to the Age of Sail program, Youth Boat Building Program, and Maritime Summer Camp, the Association and its partner, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, are working to renew other programs, such as in-person sea chanteys, public programs, concerts, and events — all put on hold during the pandemic.
Continue reading in the June issue of Latitude 38.
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