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October 30, 2023

Baja Ha-Ha Halloween Costume Kick-Off Party Shenanigans

San Diego turned on its best weather for the 29th Baja Ha-Ha Halloween Kick-Off Party yesterday. The official count landed at 131 boats coming together to make the annual pilgrimage south to Mexico, with Drew and Christy Aune of the Leopard Powercat 51 Tiddly completing the list of participants.

Latitude’s Nicki Bennett and John Arndt went to San Diego to join the festivities and to bid farewell to this year’s fleet. And looking at the photos they sent from the costume party, it appears the rest of us missed a whole ton of fun … and they’re not even in Mexico yet!

The Barbies and Kens from Allan and Rina Alexopulos’s Lagoon 450S iliohale.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Michelle and Dave Opheim of Endless Summer out of Oakland Yacht Club pose with their Ha-Ha crew Jim, Manny, and Max. The sixth crew member, Bosun the 5-year-old black cat, drew the short straw and stayed aboard to take the watch.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Hopefully these will be the only orcas Nick Ratto and Andrea Cook of the Prout CS 33 Fantasy encounter on their cruise south.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Julian Stephans got into the Halloween swing with his parents Scott and Jill of the Channel Islands-based Catana 471 L’Avventura.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
What do you get when mermaids, a firefighter, a witch, Kylo Ren and a pirate take the stage together? By the way, there are at least 14 kids sailing among the Ha-Ha fleet this year.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

We have stacks more photos to share, and will have others from this morning’s 11 a.m. departure.

Farewell from Newport Beach!
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Keep an eye on ‘Lectronic, and on next month’s Sailagram, for more fun from Baja Ha-Ha XXIX.

Latitude 38 Crew List Brings Sailors Together

The recent Sausalito Boat Show brought together sailors from the four corners of San Francisco Bay. Latitude 38 provided a social center for the event, and since we have been in the business of bringing sailors together for more than 40 years, we do our best to highlight our readers and their on-the-water sailing stories.

Marina at the helm, cruising!
© 2023 Marina Eisenzimmer

As anticipation was building for the this year’s Baja Ha-Ha Cruisers Rally, the conversation turned to cruising, finding crew, and Latitude 38’s perspective on the future of the Baja Ha-Ha. At the show, we spoke with many sailors who are longtime readers, and one friend of Latitude, Marina Eisenzimmer, stopped by our booth to share that she has found most of her crew through our online Crew List. Sure, they’ve sailed the Baja Ha-Ha 12 times, but it never gets old.

And how did they find crew for so many voyages? The Crew List and the Crew List parties, of course!

Crew-list sailors can become lifelong friends. Pictured left to right are Myron Eisenzimmer, Josh Han, and a couple from ND who sailed together in Puerto Vallarta after the 2021 Baja Ha- Ha.

Marina and her husband came to Latitude 38‘s September 2023 Fall Crew List Party at Spaulding Marine Center. Drawing on a long history of bringing together S.F. Bay Area sailors and sailing enthusiasts, it serves as a way to bring people together in real life, after an initial exchange on the digital crew list. Since many sailors use the online list, evaluating a person’s profile is only half the information you need to decide on whether they would be a good fit.

Marina’s Baja Ha-Ha friend Karen Miller enjoying the party!
© 2023 Marina Eisenzimmer

“We contacted them on the Latitude 38 crew list. It’s the best place to find out about someone’s background,” Marina explains. “It’s good to finally meet people in person. That way you can see how they interact with others, and see how well they get along with other people. That’s the main thing, because you want to be with people who are easy to get along with in close quarters.”

Four sailors together on deck
Randy Dinger and Shellie Alton (back) from Idaho join Myron and Marina Eisenzimmer (seated) aboard the latters’ Swan 47 Mykonos.
© 2023 Marina Eisenzimmer

Are you sailing the Ha-Ha with L38 Crew List friends? Or, for that matter, sailing anywhere else with Crew List friends?

November and Midwinter Racing Preview

Celebrate Achievements in 2023

The Yacht Racing Association’s Trophy Party will return to Richmond YC on November 18, 3-5 p.m. Come pick up your prizes and cheer for the champions.

John and Dave with Olson 25 half-hull
John Collins and Dave Gruver collected kudos at last year’s YRA Trophy Party for their victory in the Olson 25 class. Will they repeat? Come to RYC on November 18 to find out!
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

November Races in the Bay Area

Among races coming up next month are:

  • Friday-Sunday, Nov. 3-5: A Grand Master Team Race regatta, to be sailed non-spinnaker in J/22s out of St. Francis YC.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 15: The Big Sail, Cal vs. Stanford, in J/22s at StFYC, complete with shoreside pageantry.
  • Friday, Nov. 24: Wild Turkey Race on Black Friday at Tiburon YC. “Pay the entry fee and you plus all of your crew will get a shot of Wild Turkey bourbon after the race.” Registration is open for this pursuit race on Jibeset.
  • Saturday, Nov. 25: Thanksgiving Pursuit Race, presented by Corinthian YC.

Super Saturday Midwinter Series

The first Saturday of the month is a popular time slot for Bay Area midwinter series, including these that start on November 4:

Find info and registration on all of the above on Jibeset.

GGYC Midwinters with Golden Gate Bridge in the background
Light air is one of the challenges of midwinter racing.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

More Midwinter Series in Northern California

Sausalito YC’s Chili Midwinter Regatta will begin on Sunday, November 5, in the Knox racing area.

Berkeley YC will host separate Saturday and Sunday Midwinter Series starting on the weekend of November 11-12. Their Chowder Series sails every Sunday through March except when it conflicts with the Midwinters, both with racing on the Berkeley Circle.

Tequila Mockingbird Express 27
Randall Rasicot’s Express 27 Tequila Mockingbird in last season’s Berkeley Midwinters. The series is popular with the E27 class.
© 2023 Ira Potekhina / White Raven Media

Generally sailing west of the BYC Midwinters, RegattaPRO’s Winter One Design Invitational will begin on November 11. J/105, J/100, J/88, J/24, J/70, Express 27, Melges 24 and Moore 24 are the invited classes.

Island YC’s Island Days will kick off on November 12, with racing out of Alameda on the Estuary.

Santa Cruz YC’s Midwinter Series will begin on November 18. Sequoia YC’s Redwood Cup pursuit race series will also start on November 18, as will South Beach YC’s Midwinter Series.

The YRA’s Doublehanded Midwinter Series will return starting on Sunday, November 19. “All our Doublehanded-Only Midwinter races will start and finish off the StFYC race deck this year, with one race scheduled per race day, and courses created with doublehanded crews in mind.” Registration is open on Jibeset.

Additional series will begin in December or January; more on those in a future post.

Southern California

San Diego YC’s Hot Rum Series will run November 4 and 18 and December 2.

Long Beach YC will host the Butler Cup, Open Grade 4 Match Racing, in Solings on November 4-5.

Cabrillo Beach YC will host a Fall One Design regatta in L.A. on November 11-12.

Pacific Northwest

The next Race to Alaska will start on June 9, but applications will open on November 15. Applications will also open that day for the Seventy 48, a human-powered race brought to you by the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, which also produces R2AK. The Seventy 48 will start on May 31 and cover 70 miles in 48 hours.

Sail Like a Girl team in Race to Alaska
Sailing a Melges 32, the Sail Like a Girl team, winners of the 2018 Race to Alaska, demonstrate that it is not always freezing cold in the R2AK.
© 2023 Race to Alaska

Many more stand-alone races and regattas and midwinter series pepper the fall and winter calendar. Look for a longer list in the Calendar section of the November issue of Latitude 38, coming out on Wednesday, November 1.

America’s Cup Hall of Fame Welcomes Three New Inductees

The America’s Cup Hall of Fame has inducted three new nominees in a lavish ceremony held inside the New York Yacht Club’s (NYYC) opulent model room. The star-studded, gala affair, with a who’s who of America’s Cup and yachting history, was in many ways another coronation of two of the cast of characters from the legendary 26th Match held in Fremantle, Western Australia, in 1986. As history has documented, it was the San Diego Yacht Club’s Stars & Stripes defeating the Royal Perth Yacht Club’s Kookaburra 4-0.

The Herreshoff Marine Museum/America’s Cup Hall of Fame welcomed John “JB” Barnitt, who sailed on Stars & Stripes 87; Kookaburra 3’s co-designer and skipper Iain Murray; and Hope Goddard Iselin into the Class of 2023.

New York Yacht Club
The iconic New York Yacht Club in Midtown Manhattan.
© 2023 Mark Reid

“The two men and one woman in this year’s class hail from the West Coast, Australia, and the East Coast, but they all raced in the America’s Cup, and contributed to the Cup via another discipline, including photography, boat building, and regatta management,” said Steve Tsuchiya, AC HoF Selection Committee chair. “We’re thrilled to welcome this multi-talented group to the Hall of Fame!”

Edith Hope Goddard Iselin was a “titanic” presence in an era when women didn’t have the right to vote, let alone be allowed on board an America’s Cup yacht during a race. Mrs. Iselin took photos while on board at a time when cameras had only recently been invented, and was a pioneer in yachting as the first American woman to have raced in the America’s Cup. She made history by winning the Cup three times as a member of the afterguard aboard Defender (1895), Columbia (1899), and Reliance (1903).

Iselin Family
America’s Cup Hall of Fame Committee Chairman R. Steven Tsuchiya presents the Resolute Plaque to Hope Goddard Iselin’s descendant relatives, Derick and Sallie Iselin.
© 2023 Photo by Hechler Photographers/Herreshoff Museum

Iain Murray’s storied path is one of the most diverse and remarkable track records in sailing. He was born in Sydney, Australia, and is a yacht designer, boat builder, offshore sailor, Olympic competitor and coach, and multiple-time 18ft Skiff World Champion, including races on San Francisco Bay.

The highlight for me is always Iain Murray’s race-day morning briefings!
© 2023 Photo from Gilles Martin-Raget.

Murray’s career in the America’s Cup is just as varied, from entering the sport as a young skipper in the 1980s on Syd Fischer’s Advance, to leading Kookaburra 3 against Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes, and now serving as one of the most highly regarded regatta directors in the history of the competition with SailGP and the 34th through 37th America’s Cups.

He also led Spirit of Australia in San Diego in 1992, struggling with a lack of funding, and then, in 1995, was with One Australia, which sank to the bottom of the Pacific on a stormy day in a race against New Zealand when the boat split in half. He is completely trusted and admired by sailors in competition and peers alike.

The esteemed Iain Murray.
© 2023 Photo by Hechler Photographers/Herreshoff Museum

“For me it was a very emotional and special privilege; it means a lot when you work at something for a long period of time, in my case with the America’s Cup in two stints over 41 years. It’s been a long journey,” Murray said. “So to have all your peers come to vote for you, come to support you, and come to hear you doesn’t happen very often.”

Murray paid homage to his mentor Syd Fischer — who recently passed away and who had given him his first America’s Cup opportunity as skipper of Advance in 1983 — as well as others like Jimmy Spithill on Young Australia in 2000.

John “JB” Barnitt is a highly accomplished sailor who has crewed on four America’s Cup yachts and won international sailing’s oldest prize three times.

John “JB” Barnitt.
© 2023 Photo by Hechler Photographers/Herreshoff Museum

What sets Barnitt apart from many other sailors is that he achieved this feat in three different types of yachts, winning the Cup in 1987 with Stars & Stripes, a 12-Meter representing the San Diego Yacht Club, and then a year later in a controversial Deed of Gift, NY Supreme Court-ordered Match, on a wing-sailed catamaran off Point Loma in San Diego, California

Barnitt, who won his third America’s Cup in 2003 as starboard grinder with the Swiss challenger Alinghi, remains connected to the world’s most prestigious yacht race. As founder/president of Symmetrix Composite Tooling, he leads a team that builds full-scale master patterns and molds of the hulls and spars of NYYC’s AC75 American Magic.

The 2023 Stars & Stripes “group photo. From L-R, first row up: Scott and Dory Vogel, Malin Burnham, John “JB” Barnitt and John Marshall. Muggsy Skinner, John Sangmeister, Jonathan Wright, Duncan Skinner, Tom Whidden, Jim Kavle, Tom Darling, Stuart Silvestri and Dave Pedrick.
© 2023
The Stars & Stripes 1987 “group” photo after winning the America’s Cup.
© 2023 Photo by Hechler Photographers/Herreshoff Museum

“When Jack Sutphin asked Lowell North if I might be interested in trying out with Dennis Conner on the Stars & Stripes, I had no idea what that might entail, I had never been match racing.

“I had never sailed a 12-Meter, I had never sailed with wire jib sheets or sailed with sails that weighed more than me!” Barnitt continued. “I had no idea that it would lead to four AC campaigns, or that it would lead to having dinner with you fine folks here at [one of] the most beautiful and storied yacht clubs in the world.”