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February 12, 2024

Just In: Ronnie Simpson Dismasted in South Atlantic Ocean

Update, 2:00 p.m. (PST):
Ronnie Simpson has been taken aboard the the Taiwanese bulk carrier SAKIZAYA YOUTH.

1:00 p.m. (PT):
We’re devastated to read on the the Global Solo Challenge page that Ronnie Simpson’s Shipyard Brewing has dismasted in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Ronnie Simpson dismasted
The rig from Ronnie Simpson’s Shipyard Brewing is now lying across the deck. He is unhurt and rescue is on the way.
© 2024 Ronnie Simpson

Here’s the news from the Global Solo Challenge, “It is with a very heavy heart that we have to write this update. At approximately 0200 UTC Ronnie Simpson dismasted on Shipyard Brewing. Ronnie is well and is not injured but wind and waves make the situation quite critical. He is approximately 650 Nautical Miles due east-south-east from Buenos Aires. Ronnie is in contact with the coast guard, has deployed one of his EPIRBS and has determined that the safest course of action is to be rescued.

“He has been sailing east for days to distance himself away from the worst of a storm due to hit him in 24-36 hours. He is therefore rightly concerned about the negative development of the weather in his area. At the time of dismasting he was reaching east when the boat took off a wave crest and dismasted upon landing in the trough of the wave. There are several videos posted on his official Instagram profile @captainron_official which we have also relayed on our channels, we are on standby awaiting for further information regarding plan of action with the rescue centre. He is not in any immediate danger but clearly the situation is made difficult by the weather forecast.”

Ronnie Simpson rescue
The Taiwanese bulk carrier Sakizaya Youth has reversed course to get ready for a rescue. 
© 2024 Global Solo Challenge

Additional information from the Global Solo Challenge, “The Taiwanese bulk carrier SAKIZAYA YOUTH is approximately 50 nautical miles away, or about 3 hours at current speed from Ronnie and his rescue ship should be able to make visual contact in daylight and hopefully even complete the transfer before it gets dark. The time of the transfer from his boat to the large bulk carrier will inevitably be quite delicate but luckily the vessel will be in position before the arrival of tomorrow’s storm which would have otherwise significantly complicated matters.”

This will mean abandoning Shipyard Brewing ahead of a significant storm system on the way.

Caption Contest(!)

Welcome to our February Caption Contest(!). And now for something completely different — borrowing a phrase from Monty Python’s Flying Circus — we bring you a historical photo. One that gives us the cold shivers, just looking at it. We haven’t found much information about this one, but according to the post on Twitter (do we really have to call it X?), where we found the photo, it’s a New England fishing boat in 1916.

The photo also made its way to Reddit, where one commenter wrote,”I believe this is the USS New England. From October 1917-1919 it was chartered by the US Navy for WWI. Mainly it was used for ferrying supplies and as a tug boat for those coming in and out of Newport.” (Yes, we too see the name on the hull.)

B&W of men on ice covered boat
Your caption here.
© 2024

Your guess of its origin is as good as ours. In the meantime, please add your captions below!

New Yacht Ownership Opportunities with Dream Yacht

Dream Yacht launched several exciting new yacht ownership programs for 2024.The company’s goal is to make yacht ownership more accessible through innovative solutions that fit a variety of budgets, lifestyles and financial goals. In addition, with 7 world-renowned brands and 60 models in its portfolio, Dream Yacht offers the widest range of yachts for sale in the market. Take a look at the latest programs so you can make your dream of owning your own yacht a reality.

For more details, simply contact Dream Yacht Sales & Ownership.

Super Sail Sunday at Cal Sailing Club

Super Bowl Sunday turned out disappointing for the Bay Area, but it did turn out to be a super day for sailing on the Bay. We stopped by the Cal Sailing Club Sunday afternoon and found the place bustling with sailors old and new. Looking out from the docks we saw a fleet of the club’s small boats out racing, windsurfers launching from the docks, and boats being dropped in from the hoist. The clubhouse was active with members and prospective members looking to sign up to sail.

Cal Sailing Club races
Sunday dinghy racing was going on out in a gentle breeze.
© 2024 John

Whenever we’re faced with people telling us that sailing is a rich man’s sport, we’re quick to point out that’s a choice but not a requirement. Most sailors sail for free on other people’s boats and others can join the Cal Sailing Club in Berkeley for $120 and sail every day for three months — free lessons, racing and Bay cruises included. They can continue to sail for free if they’re willing to volunteer and earn time to sail on the club’s many available small boats and keelboats.

New member
A prospective member was down checking out the action and picking up a copy of Latitude 38.
© 2024 John

We spoke with Cal Sailing Club volunteer Josh Smith, who was on the safety boat for the day while enthusiastically extolling the virtues of the club’s ability to make sailing accessible to more people. There is lots of big-boat sailing on the Bay, but we’re keenly aware of our own and many other local sailors’ roots in small-boat sailing. The Cal Sailing Club stands out as an exceptional program with a 50+-year history.

Enthusiastic volunteer Josh Smith was helping welcome members and was on hand to staff the safety boat if needed.
© 2024 John

While we were talking with Josh and looking out at the small-boat fleet racing on the Bay, a senior from UC Berkeley came down saying he’d heard about the club and was interested in learning to sail. It’s a frequent occurrence, and “Welcome!” is the message for him and all others who are curious to learn more about sailing.

Cal Sailing Club hoist
The hoist was busy launching and retrieving boats.
© 2024 John

The Cal Sailing Club has monthly open houses in the spring, summer and early fall to help promote their free and inexpensive sailing lessons and membership. It’s a friendly, welcoming place for newcomers to stick their toe in the water and quickly get acclimated to the world of sailing.

Cal Sailing Club RS Quests
There were many boats on the water and still more RS Quests, sailboards and other boats available for members to take out.
© 2024 John
Cal Sailing Club docks
The docks were busy with folks rigging up sailing dinghies and sailboards.
© 2024 John

Whenever you find folks saying sailing is only a rich man’s sport you can remind them of the Cal Sailing Club. Sailing can be far cheaper than the $1421 for an all-day private ski lesson at Northstar, or attending a Super Bowl game. There’s no doubt you can spend a lot of money on sailing, but organizations like the Cal Sailing Club make sure that money is not an impediment to sailing. Anyone can have a super day sailing at the Cal Sailing Club.

By the way, there are numerous other great community (and youth) sailing programs up and down the coast. When in doubt, check them out!

Entering the Pacific Cup Race: Fort Worth, Texas, to Hawaii With a J/105

We’ve been reaching out to sailors signed up for this year’s Pacific Cup to learn a little more about who they are, and why they signed up for the race. Matt Arno from Fort Worth, Texas, shared a little about his sailing life and his plan for his first Pac Cup race.

Matt has owned the J/105 Blue Flash for 15 years, mostly focused on one-design racing. Before that he crewed on a variety of smaller J/boats, and has been adding offshore racing to the schedule, one step at a time.

“We started out doing the Harvest Moon Regatta (150 miles Galveston to Port Aransas), which we’ve done several times,” Matt told us, “then did the Chicago-Mackinac race (330 miles) twice, then two years ago the Newport Bermuda (600 miles there and then 600 back).

“The next step is Pac Cup. It’s been on my bucket list for quite some time and represents the biggest race I’ll be able to do on my own boat. Going to do Sydney Hobart or Fastnet will have to be as crew for someone else.”

J/105 sailboat with crew
There’ll be fewer bodies aboard when Blue Flash crosses the Pacific in July.
© 2024 Matt Arno

The Newport Bermuda was good practice for the Pac Cup, as the preparation and safety requirements were almost identical and the amount of supplies needed was very similar, as the crew was doing a round trip. The Pac Cup, however, will be one way and returning on a trailer.

“The Pac Cup was a natural next step. We’re too small to compete in the Transpac,” Matt says, “but fit right in with the fleet for Pac Cup. Plus we’d rather be in a ‘FUN Race’ anyway. We might be the largest boat making the trip back home on a trailer after the race.”

One difficulty he has encountered is finding crew. It’s been harder than he expected and is still a work in progress.

“With only four crew on board, everyone has to be able to do everything; no room for specialists. Lots of people can’t take the time off work. And some people say, ‘On a J/105?? Are you crazy?? How long will that take?’”

Among the crew will be a “techie” who will be filming the action on board, and drone footage from above. Though with a lack of high-speed internet, viewers will have to wait until the crew reach shore.

When we asked which of the four will do the cooking, Matt said the boat’s cooking is limited to a single-burner camp stove mounted on a custom gimbal, limiting their culinary activities to boiling water.

Although, “We discovered the Mountain House freeze-dried food is quite good these days, including the hot breakfasts they make,” he adds.

Since he still does one-design racing, Matt has focused his boat modifications on things that are easily reversible, to return the boat to one-design configuration.

He explains, “The electronics suite was where a lot of attention was needed. Chartplotters at the helm and nav station aren’t normally seen on purely one-design racers, nor is AIS, much less satellite communications. I’ve tripled the battery-bank size and added solar panels off the stern and on the dodger. We should be able to go several days at a time without needing to run the engine to charge the batteries. We went almost four days without running the engine for Newport Bermuda and we’ve doubled our solar charging capability since then.”

We wish Matt and his crew lots of luck, and fun, during and in preparing for their race from San Francisco to Hawaii, starting on July 15.

NEED CREW?  Check out our Crew List here.

Three Bridge Fiasco — A Reflection

Following the Singlehanded Sailing Society’s Three Bridge Fiasco, Ros de Vries sat down to write an appreciation for her experience of shorthanded sailing on the Bay. We thereby bring you “A Whimsical Musing from a Waterlogged Serial Sailor.”

Before both boat-bites and poignant thoughts disappear back into my body, I wanted to write a few keepsake lines about 2024’s “Three Bridge Fiasco.” As the format of the race has been well documented by fellow competitors, let me take another route, and write about the race’s — and sailing’s — splendidness, which, by the Kantian definition, is its ability to “produce feeling for both the beautiful and the sublime.”

2024 Three Bridge Fiasco
The windless Yerba Buena parking lot.
© 2024 Ros de Vries

However, before I run deep into this topic, I should state a few facts:

  • I doublehanded on Adam Eliot’s dream machine Quiver, a Santa Cruz 40 possessing speed, elegance and a PHRF of 57.
  • We sailed clockwise — around Blackaller, across the Bay to Raccoon Strait, followed by a rounding of Red Rock and a glorious spinnaker run to the infamous Yerba Buena parking lot. We positioned ourselves well and took off with the ultralights at the first breeze
  • After a thrilling reach, we finished fourth in the DH Spin B Ratings > or = 55 but < 76 Division. Following six hours of racing, we missed third place by less than two minutes, with a finish time of 16:20:32.
  • About half the 300-strong fleet retired. So, our finish put us in the top quartile. As someone not immune to feelings of schadenfreude, it was of greater importance that we beat many of our friends. The Richmond Yacht Club bar provided an excellent reception for gluttons like us.

And so, let’s crack open a beer, shall we?

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