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July 26, 2023

No Sign of Donald Lawson As ‘Defiant’ Reportedly Spotted off Acapulco

We wish we had good news to share, but for now we can only hope that Donald Lawson is somewhere safe. However, East Coast news stations are reporting that Captain Lawson’s ORMA 60 trimaran Defiant has been found, capsized. The Mexican navy’s press office said a Mexican search plane had spotted a yacht, which they believed to be Defiant, 275 nautical miles off the coast of Acapulco, the Baltimore Banner reported on Tuesday. Though after its initial report, the Banner wrote, the navy “… are not confirming it to be Lawson’s Defiant.” Crews have been unable to reach the vessel due to weather and sea conditions.

Donald Lawson
We recorded a Good Jibes podcast with Captain Lawson in June 2022, at which time he talked about his plans to break multiple sailing records.
© 2023 Donald Lawson

According to WMAR, Lawson’s wife Jacqueline reached out to the Annapolis School of Seamanship on Friday. On July 9, Lawson had advised he was without engine power and relying solely on a wind generator. Jacqueline’s next, and last, communication with her husband was on July 13, at which time he advised he had “25% of battery power and no way of charging” after his wind generator was damaged in a storm.

“We decided that it would be best for him to turn back around and head back to Acapulco to look over these issues instead of continuing to the Panama Canal,” she told reporters. At that time he was 285 miles from Acapulco.

Lawson’s brother, Quentin Lawson Senior, told the New York Post that Donald had “dramatically reduced his vessel’s speed late on July 12,” when he went from 11 to less than 3 knots, and that Defiant had “turned course, going against the wind late into the evening.”

“‘I believe something happened at that moment,’ he told NBC News.”

Defiant tracker
Defiant’s last tracker update is shown as 13 July 2023, 13:24 (GMT).
© 2023 PredictWind

In a social media post for his nonprofit organization Dark Seas Project prior to his departure from Acapulco, Lawson wrote about his preparation, his sail plan and his safety equipment, which included, “Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) linked to satellites so local Coast Guards can find us. We also have a number of satellite phones onboard that provide our Global Positioning System (GPS) …” Defiant was reportedly also equipped with two life rafts, multiple radios and a survival suit; however there are no reports of flares, or electronic messages or signals coming from the boat. A US Coast Guard spokesperson told the Baltimore Sun on Tuesday afternoon that the agency “did not have information on the reported sighting” and was “having trouble getting in touch with the Rescue Coordination Centers in Acapulco.”

This morning has brought no new information. We’ll continue keeping tabs on the situation. In the meantime, we all hope Captain Lawson is found alive and well.

Good Jibes #100: Dockside Chats With the Crew of ‘Latitude 38’

Thank you for 100 episodes of Good Jibes with Latitude 38! In this special episode, host Moe Roddy interviews the all-star crew behind Latitude 38 Sailing Magazine and Good Jibes. Hear their favorite moments from sailing, the podcast, and the magazine. A special thank you to everyone who’s made Good Jibes with Latitude 38 possible: the world’s greatest listeners, incredible sponsors, terrific hosts, and inspiring guests.

Latitude 38 crew
We hope you have as much fun listening to this podcast and reading the magazine as we do creating them.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Archives

This episode covers everything from the crew’s history with the magazine to how Good Jibes was born. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:

  • How did Nicki start working at Latitude 38?
  • Was Penny a sailor and familiar with the magazine when she started?
  • How did Ryan start teaming with Latitude 38?
  • Does Heather want to get her captain’s license?
  • What types of jobs did Monica have in Australia?
  • How many articles has Tim written?
  • What is Jean’s background?
  • How did John buy the magazine?

For all things Latitude 38 and Good Jibes, visit

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!

An August Regatta Preview

But First …

Before we look forward to August’s regatta schedule, let us just take a brief moment to mention today’s deadline to enter this Saturday’s Encinal Regatta. This is the one where you sail out the Golden Gate to Point Bonita and finish down the Estuary at Encinal Yacht Club and a party there in Alameda. (The YRA used to call this one the 2nd Half Opener.) Lots of fun! But registration will close at midnight tonight. Learn more and sign up on Jibeset.

The Estuary Extravaganza, a three-race production of three Alameda yacht clubs (Island, Encinal and Oakland), will follow this Sunday, July 30.

Medusa sailing
The Santa Cruz 27 Medusa as seen from the Cal 39 Sea Star during the 2021 Estuary Extravaganza.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

More from the Yacht Racing Association

Out on the ocean in August, the YRA and the Singlehanded Sailing Society will join forces to bring you the two-day Drake’s Bay Race on August 5-6. Sail from San Francisco to Drake’s Bay on Saturday, drop a hook, and race back on Sunday. Register for the SSS single- or doublehanded version here:, and/or for the YRA version here:

Bombora Express 27
Rebecca Hinden singlehands her Express 27 Bombora at the start of the 2021 Drake’s Bay Race.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The second annual Bluewater Bash, a long-distance ocean race, will take place on August 19-20, with a skippers’ meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 17. Note that the Bluewater Bash and the Drake’s Bay Race have traded dates from the original schedule published in December.

Inside San Francisco Bay, the YRA will wrap up their In the Bay Racing series with two races on August 12.

More San Francisco Bay Area Regattas

On August 5-6, San Francisco YC’s inaugural Wet, Warm and Windy Regatta invites J/105, J/88, J/24, J/70, Express 37, Express 27 and Olson 25 classes and other one designs with six+ boats. The club promises “two days of spirited racing on San Francisco Bay followed by warm-weather post-racing activities at SFYC.”

US Sailing’s Open Sailing Series will come to San Francisco Bay on August 11-13. Richmond, St. Francis and San Francisco YCs will run the races for iQFOiL, Formula Kite, Open Kitefoil, Wingfoil, ILCA, 29er, 49er, 49erFX, 470 and I420 classes. See

Sequoia YC will host the five-race South Bay Championship on August 12-13. The overall winner will receive the South Bay Perpetual Trophy; the top Open 5.70 will win the Chispa Trophy.

On Sunday the 13th, Encinal YC invites mixed duos to compete in the Gracie & George (Gracie drives).

Zephyr with the Port of Oakland in the background
The J/109 Zephyr sails in a recent Gracie & George coed doublehanded race.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Then, on Saturday the 19th, Sausalito YC will run their Women Skippers Regatta. “Crews may be mixed, but no man’s hand shall touch the helm while racing.”

SFYC will host the Melges 24 Pacific Coast Championship on August 19-20.

At St. Francis Yacht Club

The Mercury Class will race the Joe Logan Regatta at StFYC on August 12. Update as of 8/4/23: This regatta has been canceled until next year (see Comment below).

Aldo Alessio, the StFYC’s ocean race, will sail out the Gate on Friday, August 18, as a prelude to that weekend’s Phyllis Kleinman Swiftsure Regatta.

The Ronstan Bridge to Bridge invites Hydrofoil Kite, Hydrofoil Windsurf and Wing sailors to race from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge on the evening of Thursday, August 24.

On August 26, StFYC will run a one-day pilot event of the Sailing Champions League in eight J/22s. The club vs. club fleet racing format is popular in Europe and Australia.

A Few Away Games

Hood River YC in Oregon invites sailors to dare the Double Damned, a run from Cascade Locks to The Dalles on August 5.

Stillwater YC in scenic Pebble Beach will host the Santanarama on August 5-6.

The 50th Anniversary Celebration Hobie Mile High Regatta will sail on Huntington Lake on the same weekend. Divisions for Hobie 16 A & B and Novice, Hobie 18, Hobie 20, Wave and Multihull Open are offered.

And Many More …

With so many fun events, both on the water and on the shore, we couldn’t list them all here. Find many more in the Calendar section of Latitude 38, coming out next Tuesday, August 1. For an overview of the entire year, see the 2023 Northern California Sailing Calendar & YRA Master Schedule.

Bay Area Sailors Take the Wins in Race to Mackinac

The 114th Race to Mackinac, presented by Wintrust, was a rewarding experience for several S.F. Bay Area racing teams that paid off handsomely. In contrast to last year’s race, which was a white-knuckle affair sailed in heavy seas, surrounded by constant lightning with waves of incessant sheets of rain that stung like bees, this year was a tactical dream that played like a spellbinding chess match. Racers swapped the leads multiple times in all divisions up and down the racecourse, which usually plays like a typical distance race. This time around it was match racing at its best.

In many cases it came down to the last remaining patch of emerald water with seconds to spare at the finish line between the Round Island Lighthouse and Windermere Point. The line is so close to shore you can smell the fudge from downtown Mackinac Island and hear the clapping of horses’ hooves as they trot up and down Main Street.

A day that started out under glorious sunshine, with a weather forecast of light breezes (Ugh!), quickly turned into a daunting challenge. Teams were forced into last-minute sail changes with little or no time to change into foul weather gear, as conditions turned on a dime and thunderstorms materialized out of nowhere, with sheets of driving raindrops the size of shot glasses. It was as close to hail as rain can get!

Sunshine to driving rain in a matter of moments off the Chicago waterfront, as the Great Lakes (ex SC) 70s get going at the start of the 114th Race to Mackinac.
© 2023 Mark Reid

With a day’s head start, Peter Thorton’s 104-ft ketch Whitehawk was first to finish at the island on Sunday afternoon in 1d 22h 26m 5s, but the prestigious line honor went to Philip O’Neal’s Natalie J, which nipped Bob Hughes’s Heartbreaker by a mere 34 seconds, and with the two GL 52s trading the lead back and forth on the final run through the Straits after rounding the turning mark at Grays Reef. But at the end of the day, it was Eric Wynsma’s GL 52 Usual Suspects and his “Corinthian” crew that captured the division on corrected time for a popular, hard-fought win in the Great Lakes 52 Class.

Last to first was not the way Scott Sellers and his daughter Merritt thought their race was going to turn out. More than three minutes after the start, the Larkspur, CA, sailors Sellers, aboard their J/111 Nosurprise, were notified by the Race Committee that they were over the line early and would have to turn around and restart the race. After the schizophrenic start with the weather conditions, they fell more than a mile behind their competitors.

“It was a tough race, lots of sail changes, changing gears, nothing super-windy, but it kept us on our toes,” Scott Sellers said. “Last year was a little more adventurous, but this year was just as arduous. We had a deficit to work out of. The first time we took the lead from No Quarter was around Grays Reef, then we lost it and then we took it back in the Straits.

“We had a lot of boats to chase, in different areas of the race, so we just picked them off one at a time. We got some lucky shifts; No Quarter fell into a hole and we passed them for the win.”

Nosurprise finished ahead by five minutes at 1d 22h 27m 17s.

Merritt and Scott Sellers of Larkspur, CA.
© 2023 Mark Reid

“It was so fun and a great race,” Merritt said. The 15-year-old sailor made headlines last year at 14, winning the doublehanded division in the Port Huron to Mackinac Race. “After being OCS at the start, it was awfully stressful, but it felt really good every boat we got; those moments felt so rewarding for the team.”

S.F. Bay Area’s Nick Gibbens, David Gruver, Tom Ducharme, John Collins and the rest of the Wintrust crew, including SoCal’s tactical and weather guru Doug Johnstone sailing on Sic Parvis Magna, returned for another shot at a race they have come to enjoy, and win on the J/145 this time around.

Their faith was rewarded again as they finished with an elapsed time of 1d 15h 04m 40s corrected to 2d 04h 12m 40s for first in Section 3 and second overall. Sic Parvis Magna comes from Sir Francis Drake, and means “greatness from small beginnings.”

Sic Parvis Magna at the finish off Mackinac Island.
© 2023 Stephen R Cloutier/2023 CYCRTM

“We had such a fantastic time last year, and all along we intended to make this a long-term commitment with Wintrust,” Gibbens said. “We will have this boat for at least the next five years. We just got into the water literally a week ago and had to do a lot of mechanical stuff just to get it where it is, let alone what we had to do to go out and win races, and we’re still working on that.

“But we are more prepared than we were last year,” he continued. “Most of the crew is back from last year and we added a couple more people from the Bay Area; we have a very strong core group. The start was exciting, and we had a nice reaching start on the leeward end of the line, and then all of a sudden it started raining like crazy! It quickly became a different kind of sailboat race!

“For the first hour or so we pretty much sailed straight and stretched out using most of our waterline,” Gibbens said. “We favored the western shore from the modeling, but as the day went on we lost a little confidence in that and started to play the shifts. We were leading for most of that first part of the race until wind shifts and sail changes started having their effect on the race.

“As we reached up the lake, like every navigator we looked for the wind where we wanted it to be and where we hoped it was,” he said. “We probably don’t know enough about the lake yet, but by morning the die was cast. We were on starboard tack and kept getting headed, so there was really no option to jibe out, so we were dealing with the cards that we were dealt and we knew we just had to wait for something better, and in the end it did become better.”

The Sic Parvis Magna Wintrust team led by Nick Gibbens from Mill Valley.
© 2023 Stephen R Cloutier/2023 CYCRTM

“We didn’t learn much last year because it was very much different weather, and we certainly are at a disadvantage by not having local knowledge,” Gibbens concluded. “Again, it’s a boat race and we know how to sail boats. It comes down to just keeping the boat moving, and it has a lot to do with the crew, their focus, and the caliber of people we brought, and, of course a good boat.”

The story on Dark Star is a bit of Mackinac magic! Dark Star is a Hobie 33 out of the San Francisco Yacht Club. It is owned by Dan McGraw and Matt Krogstad. She finished 2d 03h 41m 28s corrected to 2d 04h 37m 54s for third in Section 9.

“I actually met my wife Kim doing this race,” Krogstad said. “We met because we were both on TFWB Relentless, which was her father’s boat. Her brother Scott invited me to do the race with the family, and so I ended up on a group email about Mac logistics and that was my first communication with Kim!”

“When we met in Chicago, it was on, and by the time we reached Mackinac the whole island knew that we were an item, and it’s been that way ever since!” he exclaimed. In just the last two years, the boat, which travels from event to event on a trailer, has gone from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Daytona, FL, to Charleston, SC, to Atlanta, GA, back here, and now is on its way back to Atlanta.

The next couple of years are big ones for the two Mackinac Races and their respective yacht clubs. 2024 is the 100th anniversary of the Bayview Race, and 2025 is the 150th anniversary of the Chicago Yacht Club. So, expect big fleets and lots of action!!

The Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac is one of the world’s largest annual offshore regattas, drawing top-notch sailing talent from around North America and the world. Known as “The Mac” to everyone in the region, the ultimate test of Great Lakes navigation starts each July just off Chicago’s famous Navy Pier. While passing through some of the most beautiful coastal waters in the world on the 333-mile race route (289 nautical miles), the fleet faces the storms, reefs, calms, and competition that truly make it “America’s Offshore Challenge.”

Get Your Hands on a Copy
Max Ebb attends a recent Harbor Commission meeting to join the discussion about the Bay Area's ferry system.
Team Spain New Race Leaders
SailGP's Spanish Team, which was on the ropes last year and hanging by a thread, pulled off a shock to win the weekend and beat the unbeatable Australians in the process.