Skip to content
December 13, 2023

Fire Destroys California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey

The California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey was destroyed by fire on Monday night, leaving members stunned and in shock. Firefighters arrived on the scene moments after they received a call at around 11:30 p.m. Despite the station’s being only a block away, the two-story building was engulfed by the time they arrived, the L.A. Times reported. Multiple units were called in to help contain the blaze in which two firefighters were injured. Members and sailors have commented and shared their disbelief at the loss of their club, which underwent new ownership just six months ago.

California yacht club burned out
The aftermath — gutted but still standing.
© 2023 Brendan Huffman

The California Yacht Club was founded in 1922, and the building was constructed in 1967. We reached out to general manager Corey Hathaway for comment, but we were unable to connect. We imagine he has a lot going on right now. However we did hear from California Yacht Club’s vice commodore Sue Service, who wrote to us, saying, “We are devastated by the loss of our iconic and historic clubhouse — but at the same time we know that the heart and soul of California YC is the membership. That core remains intact and we are working to heal, rebuild, and restore. We are thankful that no one was seriously injured, and we are grateful for the support of the tight-knit community of Yacht Clubs in SoCal, we’ve received more offers of help than I can count!”

We were able to speak with 52-year member and former commodore Steve Curran (1986), who is a close friend of the Hathaway family that has been a part of the club’s history for generations.

“We’re all undergoing a degree of shock,” Curran said. “It’s so personal for all of us. I was married there!”

Local sailor/sailmaker Brendan Huffman, who lives only three blocks from the clubhouse, wrote, “Having started sailing in California YC’s junior program back in the 1970s and sailing with so many California YC members in my life, I am saddened about the loss of both the clubhouse and all the sailing memorabilia inside — historic trophies, half models, paintings, and photographs. My heart goes out to the Hathaway family who built that clubhouse in the 1960s and made California YC into a top tier facility. I’m confident they will rebuild another beautiful clubhouse.”

The fire was extinguished by 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, the L.A. Times reported.
© 2023 Brendan Huffman

Nearby Del Rey Yacht Club (DRYC) issued the following official statement:

“As some of you may already be aware, a devastating fire broke out at California Yacht Club (CYC) last night. DRYC has not been affected. Our Clubhouse and members’ boats are fine, albeit covered with ashes. The commodores are reaching out to CYC with our heartfelt comfort and support. We will assist our Corinthian neighbors in any way we can. More details will come as we learn more about how we can help. In the meantime, we can all say a prayer that no one was hurt.”

Officials have yet to determine the cause of the fire. Steve Curran says he has no reason to think there was any foul play involved, and looks forward to the “rebuilding of a wonderful club; one of the greatest clubs in America.”

We look forward to that, too!

Good Jibes #120: Dennis Maggard on Solo Sailing

This week’s host, John Arndt, is joined by Dennis Maggard to chat sailing with me, myself, and I. Dennis has nearly 50,000 miles of sailing under his belt — most of them solo.

Pamela is Dennis’s Pacific Seacraft 37, which he rigged for bluewater sailing and named for his wife.
© 2023 Dennis Maggard

Hear about the allure of being alone at sea and disconnecting from life on land, his journey from being a Silicon Valley tech employee to spending weeks singlehanding, how to get over seasickness, the sailing legends he’s met along his journey, and his advice on trusting the opportunity sailing presents.

This episode covers everything from Apple to unplugging. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:

  • When did Dennis start sailing?
  • What’s his longest singlehanded passage?
  • How do you entertain yourself when sailing alone?
  • Was the Baja Ha-Ha Dennis’s first big trip?
  • How many people do the Baja Ha-Ha?
  • Where did Dennis work in the tech world?
  • How has sailing changed since he started?
  • Short Tacks: What advice does he have for solo sailors?

Learn more about Dennis on Amazon and YouTube.

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and your other favorite podcast spots — follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re feeling the Good Jibes!

A SailGP Weekend of Firsts in Dubai

It was an incredible weekend at the Emirates SailGP event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates! The highlight was the closest podium finale finish in the five-year history of the series as teams Canada, Australia and New Zealand all rounded the final gate simultaneously, with the Canadians copping a penalty while the Kiwis nipped the Aussies at the line. Moments later, while everyone was still catching their breath after the dramatic action, Jimmy Spithill, who was subbing for Tom Slingsby as Team Australia driver, stunned viewers by announcing his retirement from racing in SailGP — news that will certainly create a media “vacuum” as the Aussie/American legend has always been a “larger than life” legend in our sport.

The setup shot for the finish among New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
© 2023 Felix Dietmer/SailGP

Spithill certainly went out with a bang in a dramatic weekend, as he more than filled Slingsby’s shoes, and based on the results, the Slingsbys may or may not be naming their firstborn Jimmy!

“I’m finished now as a SailGP athlete; this is my last event and so it’s fitting in my mind, because competing with Australia means I’ve come full circle,” said Spithill. “I love the fight, I love the competition, I love waking up and feeling nervous on race morning and being uncomfortable and getting out there under pressure. I love that stuff, but at the same time, it’s time.

“I gave myself a goal coming into the team, to get a consistent result, not get penalty points or damage the boat, so from that point of view I’m really satisfied,” said Spithill. “I’ll be heavily involved, clearly, with the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Italian team, but it’s time to see a new generation and a new young gun come through.”

Jimmy Spithill in the “driver’s” seat for his last SailGP Skipper’s Press Conference as his replacement Taylor Canfield looks on.
© 2023 Kieran Cleeves/SailGP

“Sailing with Jimmy was one of the greatest honors in my life. He is an absolute legend. He is not only an incredible athlete, but his ability to lead a team, interact with media and sponsors, all while managing very stressful situations, is inspirational,” said Cam Farrah, who’s served as Team USA’s strategist for multiple events in the last two seasons. “Every moment of my experience sailing with him was positive — he never wavered in his graciousness, positive leadership, knowledge transfer, and drive to push his team to do better. I am so thankful to have sailed with him, although I am sad to see him stop sailing in the league.”

Team New Zealand claimed their victory on the Persian Gulf, bolstering their playoff chances for Season 4’s Grand Finale in San Francisco next July.

Ex-West Indian cricketer Chris Gayle presents the winner’s trophy to Peter Burling, co-CEO and driver of New Zealand SailGP Team after winning the Emirates Sail Grand Prix.
© 2023 Bob Martin/SailGP.

“Foiling into the bottom mark, it was anyone’s game,” said New Zealand driver Peter Burling. “We had a hard lock on the boat for about 20 seconds trying to make that turn, so it was an amazing job by the crew to pull off a good last jibe and give ourselves a shot.”

As far as the “new” Team USA goes, the weekend was a bit of a struggle, though they took a third-place finish in the final fleet race. Unfortunately it was at the expense of Sir Ben Ainslie and the British, as they were disqualified at the start at their Emirates team sponsor’s “home” event.

“It’s so energizing to finish our first event as a team with a third place in that final race,” said Taylor Canfield, driver for the United States SailGP team. “I’m proud of our entire team; we’ve come a long way in a very short period of time. We have more work to do, but this weekend showed we have the ability to compete at the top of the fleet.”

The new lineup for Team USA.
© 2023 Ricardo Pinto/SailGP

Of note in a profound way, the first all-female training session took place this weekend at the invitation of Nate Outteridge and the Swiss team, including 12 athletes from the 10 teams.

“Sail GP’s Women’s Pathway Program has been a great initiative so far. It is very important that the pathway continues to push for women competing in other key roles on the boat like wing trimmer, driver, and flight controller,” said Farrah. “The progression of the strategist role since its initial conception has been very positive as we see women driving out of maneuvers, utilizing the panel, and making strategic decisions onboard. The reality is that spots onboard the boats are limited, there is a lot of pressure on the teams to win, [and] practice time is very limited,” said Farrah. “With all of the access to simulators and training time that women have, it is unlikely, without having the league intervene and mandate opportunities, for women to gain that experience.”

The SailGP female athletes step up as the league’s Women’s Pathway Program pays off.
© 2023 Ricardo Pinto/SailGP

While the weekend’s SailGP in Dubai has highlighted impact, innovation, inclusivity and clean energy solutions with the league’s teams competing for another Impact League trophy at the conclusion of Season 4, the emirate city also hosted the COP28 global climate change conference this weekend.

Tales of Heading South in December ‘Cruise Notes’

Changes in Latitudes is the last section of the monthly edition of Latitude 38. It covers the cruising tales of West Coast sailors and always winds up with a few “Cruise Notes” — short summaries from cruisers on the move. The December “Cruise Notes” began, “I had not intended to do the Ha-Ha again so soon after bashing back in April,” says Bill Leone of the San Diego-based Beneteau 423 SeaQuester. “However, three Colorado sailors, all former commodores of the Lake Pueblo Sailing Club, asked if I would be willing to go again. The Ha-Ha had been a bucket list item for them for many years. Cheryl and I agreed and here we are.”

Bill and Cheryl Leone
Bill and Cheryl Leone from the Beneteau 423 SeaQuester.
© 2023 Seaquester

Highlights of ’23 included an unprecedented lightning storm over Bahia Santa Maria; daylong duels with nearby boats in heavy wind and waves; passing through a half dozen gray whales when leaving Santa Maria — and just watching their new-to-ocean-sailing crew. “Watching their reactions to everything, and excitement at every dolphin sighting, reminded me not to take for granted the grandeur and privilege we enjoy in this, our chosen hobby,” says Bill.

The Baja Ha-Ha Meet the Fleet program tells us Bill sailed south with a crew of four, which included Chris Huggins, Ric Geiman, and Michael Pinkerton. The group is very committed to the sport of sailing and volunteers countless hours to make sailing more accessible to people, and to grow the sport in the landlocked state of Colorado on the nine-mile-long Lake Pueblo. There the crew organizes races and events for the Lake Pueblo Sailing Club, to give others the opportunity to enjoy sailing as much as they do.

Amel Super Maramu 52 Viva
Pierre and Marie-Josee decided to spend another season in Mexico.
© 2023 Viva

Pierre Blouin and Marie-Josee Dion of the Amel Super Maramu 52 Viva are veterans of a prior Ha-Ha with intentions of going west. However, as with many other cruisers, the allure of Mexico has kept them there for another season. There’s more in “Cruise Notes” about Viva and many other West Coast cruisers whose sail south has brought them to our monthly Changes in Latitudes cruising section. You can read more here.

Are you off cruising? Send a note to your friends back home at Latitude 38 by emailing here.