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January 19, 2024

Hans Henken To Represent Team USA at the Paris Olympics

The 49er team of Hans Henken and Ian Barrows are officially confirmed to represent Team USA at the Paris Olympic Games this summer. US Sailing declared winners in five of the Olympic sailing disciplines at the US Olympic Team Trials – Sailing, including Henken and Barrows, and women’s iQFOiL athlete Dominique Stater.

Hans Henken, S.F. Bay sailor from Stanford University who recently relocated to Barcelona
© 2024 Courtesy of Hans Henken

In an exclusive interview with Latitude 38, S.F. Bay sailor from Stanford Hans Henken relays what this accomplishment — winning a berth in the coming summer games — really means.

Hans Henken
Hans Henken with skipper Ian Barrows got the gold in Chile.
© 2024 Courtesy Hans Henken

“It’s been a lifetime goal — we haven’t really been living that long at all, but both Ian and I as kids, we knew we wanted to compete at the Olympic Games,” Henken says. “It’s one of those things where the goal was so big, monstrous to overcome. At times, it has felt like it will never come.”

The win signifies a lot of hard work and problem-solving paying off. Not only is this the second trial attempt, but Henken is not long recovered from the September SailGP accident that resulted in serious injury. At 200 days out, Henken is staying focused. “I’m currently at 80% of what I want to be at, and was 60% at the Pan Am games. You know, after the accident, I could hardly walk and had very limited range of mobility, especially my left arm and shoulder, so it’s been a bit of an uphill battle,” he tells us. “Injuries are not that uncommon. It’s all a matter of setting a game plan. All that we do in our campaigns as sailors is to set a plan and execute.”

At the US Olympic Team Trials, competitors were tested in a wide range of conditions on the two course areas in Miami — one on the Atlantic Ocean off South Beach, and the other in Biscayne Bay. At the beginning of the week, a front tested the athletes’ skills in big wind and waves that mellowed into more classic Miami conditions by Thursday.

SailGP’s Team USA launch into the massive nosedive that injured flight controller Hans Henken.
© 2024 Ricardo Pinto/SailGP

According to US Sailing’s report, the top three 49er teams battled for the lead all week, with everything coming down to the last few races on Saturday. Ian Barrows (St. Thomas, USVI) and Hans Henken (Coronado/San Francisco) took the win over Andrew Mollerus (Larchmont, NY) and Ian MacDiarmid (Delray Beach, FL) by three points. Nevin Snow (San Diego, CA) and Mac Agnese (Fort Lauderdale, FL) came in third, winning two of the last three races.

“It could have been anyone’s regatta any day, so we’re really honored to have won in the end,” said Ian Barrows for US Sailing. “We can all take credit as a group for what will hopefully be a good Olympic result in the 49er for the US.”

“Ian and I are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished,” Henken says. “We’re satisfied; this validation of everything we put in is so fulfilling. Especially in sailing, it’s easy to combine your worth and ideas of how you’re progressing based on results. The thing is, sometimes you get in this place where you can see progress but the results aren’t showing yet. That’s tough. That’s kind of where we were at, so in this particular moment, it just feels really good to have that validation.”

Henken wanted to be clear, however, that it’s a little too easy to say they’re just in it for the gold. While he’s just moved to Barcelona, Stanford and the Bay Area are home for Henken. He adds that he values his role as an inspiration for the community at home and abroad.

“From the beginning, I wanted it to be about more than that; I didn’t want it to feel like a binary thing. It’s really about inspiring the next generation of sailors,” Henken explains. “I hope that we inspire sailors to continue to do more racing and love sailing more.”

If you like what you read, please contribute to Latitude 38’s West Coast sailing coverage by clicking here.

BoatUS Issues Warning Re USCG Documentation Renewal Letters

Scammers are everywhere, even in the marine industry. We received the following PSA (public service announcement) from BoatUS and felt compelled to share.

BoatUS vessel documentation number
BoatUS is advising boaters to be alert when renewing US Coast Guard documentation.
© 2024

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is advising boaters with vessels that have a US Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation to be wary of any letter arriving by US mail offering renewal.

BoatUS advises that while the Coast Guard does send official annual renewal notices by US mail, other notices being received by BoatUS members are not from the Coast Guard but rather third-party companies whose names or return addresses may appear similar to that of the official US Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC).

Members have complained that these letters direct them to websites that may be mistaken for the actual Coast Guard NVDC located in Falling Waters, West Virginia, and appear to show a significant increase in the annual fee to renew Coast Guard documentation.

A 2017 Coast Guard bulletin says in part:

“The NVDC is aware that there are commercial entities that offer to manage the certification/renewal process on behalf of vessel owners for a fee. The Coast Guard does not endorse any of these companies, and the companies do not operate on behalf of the Coast Guard in any way. Any fees charged or agreements offered by such companies are in no way associated with the NVDC certification process. In addition, these companies are not authorized to issue any form of documentation, including travel letters and/or permits that authorize operation of ANY vessel. Customer complaints can be made through the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) website at”

While third-party companies may legitimately provide services to assist with vessel documentation renewals, the Coast Guard’s own renewal process is simple for most vessels and the price, $26 annually, is often much lower than what third-party services may charge.

To renew, go to the US Coast Guard National Documentation Center website and click on “Instructions and Forms,” then “Certificate of Documentation Application for Renewal.” The Coast Guard NVDC also offers renewal options up to five years for recreational vessels.

To be documented, a vessel must measure at least five net tons (10,000 lbs.) and, except for certain oil-spill response vessels, owned by a US citizen. About what size is that? Vessels at least 27 feet long generally meet the minimum weight requirement.

BoatUS also advises boaters who may have received mail that they believe is misleading or deceptive to contact the US Postal Inspection Service at (877) 876-2455, or through its website


The above alert reminded us of the option to have a free US Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Safety check (VSC). The volunteer-run program can help ensure you meet all the USCG requirements. You can also place a sticker on your mast to show to any USCG crew who are otherwise looking to interrupt your day on the water. We shared the story and information in our May 2023 issue, which you can read here.

Michelle Stevens aboard her Tartan 37, Savvy,
Michelle Stevens aboard her Tartan 37 Savvy displays the green VSC sticker on her mast.
© 2024 Gerry Gragg

US Sailing v. AmericaOne, Inc., Cayard, Ruh and Spina

In March 2021 Paul Cayard became the Executive Director of US Olympic Sailing. In February 2023 we wrote of Cayard’s resignation from the role along with other key people from the Olympic program, including United States Foundation Chairman Bill Ruh and Performance Director Leandro Spina.

The relationship between US Sailing, AmericaOne and Cayard, Ruh and Spina has now turned into a lawsuit where US Sailing is suing the group through the US District Court in Rhode Island for financial damages to US Sailing and its Olympic athletes. AmericaOne was the St. Francis Yacht Club challenger for the 2000 America’s Cup. Following the Cup challenge, AmericaOne became a foundation to support US competitive sailing and was renamed Project Pipeline in 2014.

US Sailing issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit:

“US Sailing, the sport’s National Governing Body and the organization responsible for the US Olympic Sailing Team, in its continued commitment to its athletes, has acted in response to the recently completed independent review by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), and filed a lawsuit against America One and three of its principals and employees for actions that have harmed, and continue to harm, athletes, the US Sailing Team, and US Sailing.

“US Sailing’s priority is to support its athletes to the fullest extent possible. Many positive steps have been taken since US Sailing made changes to its Olympic team leadership and operations and the USOPC issued its independent report on its investigation and assessment of US Sailing’s Olympic operations, including:

  • US Sailing provided several million dollars in performance support to its athletes for successful training and competition.

  • Athletes participating in the process that led to the hiring of an incredibly talented new High Performance Director with significant experiences in successful Olympic teams.

  • US Sailing continues to work with the athletes and the USOPC to prioritize athlete safety measures, including as recommended in the USOPC report.

  • US Sailing conducted its successful first round of Olympic Trials in Miami January 6-13, with 61 athletes participating, which continues the second week of February.

“We remain committed to supporting athletes’ physical and mental preparation as we select our team for the Paris 2024 Games.

“In further response to the USOPC’s report, and to recover for the athletes what was lost as indicated in the USOPC’s report, US Sailing has filed a lawsuit against America One and three of its principals and employees for actions that have harmed athletes, the US Sailing Team, and US Sailing’s business and reputation with donors, sponsors, competitive sailors, and the larger sailing community and Olympic movement. The lawsuit seeks financial damages to replace lost funding and remedy the harm done, and the cessation of wrongful conduct. Damages recovered will support the athletes as intended. US Sailing’s Complaint (filed in the United States District Court in Rhode Island) is publicly available and can be found here.

“Regrettably, the defendants in the lawsuit have harmed our athletes, Team, and organization, and US Sailing, as the National Governing Body, is compelled to respond and take all reasonable and appropriate steps to redress that harm, obtain the monetary remedies for the benefit of our athletes and their continued competitive endeavors, and enable the US Sailing Team to best move forward.

“US Sailing reaffirms its ongoing commitment to support our athletes, move forward, and improve our Olympic operations and the performance of our athletes in Paris and beyond.”

You can read the entire 75-page complaint here.

You can support Latitude 38’s commitment to sailing news when you click here.

When Small Boats Ruled the Bay and the World

The ’50s, ’60s and ’70s produced an incredible burst of sailing activity around the world and on the Bay. A common theme at the time was the small size and simplicity of the boats. We were reminded of this recently when we came across this photo of over 70 small boats sailing Lake Merritt in the ’50s.

Seventy boats were sailing on Lake Merritt in the 1950s.

The boats racing at the time were El Toros, Blue Jays, Snipes, Melodys, Zephyrs, Coast 13s and Penguins. El Toros and Snipes still remain quite active on the Bay, and Penguins are still found in much of the world.

Despite the decline there is still lots of small-boat sailing, and many small-boat sailing advocates around the Bay. Richmond Yacht Club hosts two “Sail a Small Boat” days every year. The next will be March 2. Our current issue has the story of sailor AJ McKeon, who spent his high school years racing with BAYS (Bay Area Youth Sailing) on 420s and joined Tom Struttmann on his J/105 Arrived! this past season.

AJ McKeon and his skipper Chris Tang ripping it up on a 420.
© 2024 Courtesy AJ McKeon

You also hear the small-boat story in this week’s Good Jibes podcast with Master Mariners Rear Commodore Liz Diaz. In the podcast, Liz describes her 23-ft wooden sloop Kaze, which was one of over 100 Japanese-built offshore racers! This was during the time of the very active Midget Ocean Racing Circuit (MORC), which featured a regular schedule of small-boat offshore races for boats under 30-ft.

In ’60s and ’70s boats were much smaller and simpler, and people sailed much more frequently. The Vallejo Race often had 400-500 boats participating — talk about a good time and a good party! Is there a relationship there? What do you think?

Contribute to Latitude 38’s West Coast sailing coverage by clicking here.

Talking About What Has Changed in Sailing, and What Hasn’t

At a recent team meeting, we got together, in person (which still feels like a miracle every time we do this), to talk about sailing, Latitude 38 magazine, our online presence (‘Lectronic Latitude, social media channels, etc.), and about what has or hasn’t changed in our field of work and interest. When we delved into the topic, we could see that sailing has undergone many changes, mostly in terms of the types of boats and equipment available to us, but also a little in terms of the people who take to the water to enjoy this sport in its many forms. Inevitably, the conversation turned to the past, leading to a bit of reminiscence — not surprising considering half of us have been with the magazine almost from the beginning. To one who wasn’t there for the heady, loose, and sometimes raunchy days of the ’70s and ’80s, it was interesting to get a glimpse into the origins of the magazine and the types of stories and photos that graced the earlier decades.

Now, we know there are many readers who will admit to missing the images of the scantily clad bodies lounging on decks and beaches. We also know there are as many readers who have happily moved along with the times and enjoy the more modern version of the magazine that tries to balance the fun with political correctness (dull as that may sound, it has its merits), diversity, and the presentation of sailing as being for everyone. Regardless of your or our opinions, the world has changed significantly over the past 50 or so years, and there’s not a lot we can do about it. But, that said, we did discuss the idea of bringing back some of that early flavor, and seeing where it leads. One idea that was bandied about pertained to the centerfold. Remember when centerfolds were a thing? Just about every magazine had one — at least the ones we were reading did. So we thought, why not throw in a centerfold from time to time, and see what happens?

Being the cautious sailors we are, we didn’t want to cast off into the unknown without a little preparation, or at least some idea of what may lie ahead, so we thought we’d test it out here first, in ‘Lectronic Latitude (it’s not permanently in print, easy to take down if found offensive). Now, without further ado, we invite you take a look at both the past and the possible future by viewing our first, from the archives, centerfold.


Dockside conversations
In this episode, Liz tells how she found her 1956 Japanese-built wooden sloop, why there’s beauty in boat design, how to learn about boats from other enthusiasts, how wooden boats compare to other types of boats, and why anybody can sail.