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February 28, 2024

Golden Ticket Winner Sails the ‘Green Flash’

Every once in a while, our dear readers of Latitude 38 find a special “Golden Ticket” in the center of their magazine — it entitles them to a free Latitude 38 hat! Our most recent winner is Mike Patterson, preceded by winners like Terry Jackson from last September’s issue, and David Littlejohn last June.

Latitude 38 and the Golden Ticket. Could you be the next winner?
© 2024 Mike Patterson

Mike learned to sail in his teens growing up in Newport, Oregon. “My father made a plywood dinghy using plans from Popular Mechanics. As a dad joke, he named the boat Ashore (as in, ‘Michael row your boat ashore…’).” After that, Mike took sailing in P.E. classes while attending college in Ashland, Oregon. However, he considers that his real training was at OCSC Sailing School out of Berkeley, where he completed ASA Basic Sailing 101 through Coastal Cruising and Bareboat Chartering.

“We enjoyed OCSC-led flotillas in the Sea of Cortez and Turkey. Since then we have chartered in Croatia, Catalina Island and the BVI,” Mike says.

We asked Mike if he owned a boat, to which he replied, “Do I own ‘a’ boat? No, I have several.”

You might recognize his Islander 36 Green Flash, berthed in South Beach Harbor. “We waited 12 years on the list before we got in there. Before our name came up, we had the boat on the hard for a year at S.F. Boatworks, where she underwent a major retrofit.”

Sailboat, the Green Flash
Green Flash enjoying a sunny anchorage in the Delta.
© 2024 Mike Patterson

Mike and his wife Liz Munnelly retired from the Bay Area in 2018 and moved permanently to their floating home in Portland, Oregon, on the Columbia River. “We have a 24-ft Islander Bahama, Gypsy, which is great for exploring and sailing on the Columbia.”

Liz and Mike are active members of the Islander 36 Association. “Our membership recently joined PICYA,” Mike says, “and we enjoy visiting Bay Area yacht clubs when in town.

They are also members of the Tomahawk Island YC in their floating-home community of 71 residences. “Cruising is in our blood, and we love to overnight at various destinations around the Bay. We enjoyed a 10-day cruise out to the Delta in 2021 and had a great time!”

One of Mike’s most memorable sailing experiences was when he was 20 and a “cadet” on the Californian. Here he learned about life at sea on a 130-ft schooner while cruising from Sausalito to San Diego.

Back in the Latitude 38 archives from 1998, you’ll find “A Tale of Two Islanders,” which covers the original Islander 36 Green Flash, which was stolen and replaced with the current Green Flash. At that time, Liz owned Green Flash with her late husband Scott Majors, who passed away from cancer in 2004, soon after he fulfilled his dream of crewing on the Baja Ha-Ha. “A letter to the Latitude editor from the boat’s owner, Captain Ron, wrote about Scott’s story and reminded everyone to ‘just get out there and sail!'”

Thanks for sharing your story, Mike and Liz!

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Good Jibes #131: Melinda Erkelens on Keeping Sailing Fun and Sustainable

This week’s host, John Arndt, is joined by Melinda Erkelens to chat about her professional sailing career and mission. Melinda has sailed over 30,000 nautical miles — including 10 races to Hawaii — and has spent 19 years as general counsel for three America’s Cup teams.

But aside from looking back, we also look forward, to Melinda’s current role working with Francesca Clapcich and 11th Hour Racing to bring the Grand Prix sailing experience to more women. The UpWind by MerConcept project will recruit, train, and support a squad of six female sailors as they compete in the Ocean Fifty offshore sailing circuit, with the ambition to have a female skipper on the start line in a multihull for the 2026 Route du Rhum.

Interested in being part of the crew? Apply here.

Hear how Melinda (third from left) became a professional sailor.
© 2024 Melinda Erkelens

Now, back to the podcast:
Hear how to make a career out of sailing, how to continue loving sailing when it’s your job, about her “arranged marriage” with Bill Erkelens, how the Bay Area sailing community compares to sailing communities around the world, and how to get more women interested in offshore sailing.

This episode covers everything from racing to being a sailing power couple. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:

  • Does Melinda come from a sailing family?
  • How did she meet Bill?
  • Who is Francesca Clapcich?
  • What is Melinda’s role with Francesca?
  • Which women sailors inspired Melinda as a kid?
  • What makes the sailing community stick together?
  • How was the Three Bridge Fiasco?
  • Short Tacks: Where would Melinda still like to sail?

Learn more at and

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!

Applications Now Open for Women in the MerConcept Grand Prix Program

A program called UpWind by MerConcept is inviting female sailors to apply for a position on an Ocean Fifty multihull to compete in the 2024 Ocean Fifty multihull circuit. Bay Area sailor Melinda Erkelens is working with sponsor 11th Hour Racing to support the program led by Italian/American Francesca Clapcich, who is the only female sailor to win The Ocean Race. Melinda talks more about the program in this week’s Good Jibes podcast.

Francesca Clapcitch
Francesca Clapcich will lead the Upwind by MerSea Concept Open Fifty Trimaran team.
© 2024 Upwind by MerSea Concept

MerConcept, the high-performance hub for offshore sailing and sustainable technologies based in Concarneau, France, announced the launch of its brand-new racing program to provide female sailors with experience in offshore multihull racing. UpWind by MerConcept will recruit, train, and support a squad of six female sailors as they compete in the Ocean Fifty offshore sailing circuit, with the ambition to have a female skipper on the starting line in a multihull for the 2026 Route du Rhum. Women wishing to apply can do so here. The deadline for applications is March 24.

Backed by founding sponsor 11th Hour Racing, UpWind by MerConcept’s overarching goal is to be a driving force in the transformation of offshore sailing. UpWind’s vision is for the sport to become a more inclusive and diverse community, providing equal opportunities for everyone, while increasing the pool of female talent available for selection to join mixed multihull crews for record-setting challenges like the Jules Verne Trophy. MerConcept is based in the heart of the international offshore sailing world in Brittany, France, and was founded by François Gabart, the fastest person to sail around the world.

Cécile Andrieu, MerConcept’s director of racing, described the candidates they are looking to recruit. “We’re very excited to launch our worldwide call for applications today. The spirit of UpWind is both performance and diversity and therefore we’re open to a wide range of profiles and backgrounds. Ideally, our applicants will have some good racing experience, whether it is offshore, inshore, match-racing, or Olympics, and have a genuine desire to get involved and bring this new racing team to life.

Open 50 Trimaran
Open Fifty trimarans are powerful, high-performance multihulls
© 2024 Upwind by MerConcept

“At the end of selection week, we hope to have recruited two groups: a performance-focused squad to take part in the Grand Prix and transatlantic races and a second, which will support in the training and on deliveries, with a view to gaining valuable sailing experience and miles for their CV.”

“Francesca (who lives in Salt Lake City, UT) is the perfect skipper for UpWind by MerConcept,” Gabart commented. “Her sailing CV is impressive, with experience at the Olympics, the Women’s America’s Cup, the Solitaire du Figaro, and The Ocean Race. She is competitive and driven on the water and is a champion for supporting women in the sport at all levels. We are really pleased she will be leading what we hope will be a truly international squad of female sailors.”

A short list of 12 applicants will be invited to Concarneau to be put through their paces during a selection week in April, with the aim of identifying six female sailors to join the team. A fleet of Ocean Fifties competed in the most recent Route du Rhum, with the video below showing the action. We believe the French translation is ‘The Open Fifty is really fast and fun.”

11th Hour Racing has joined UpWind by MerConcept as the founding sponsor, as the Newport, RI, USA-based organization broadens its ocean-health-focused work to include diversity, opportunity, and access in sailing.

Richmond Yacht Club’s Bill and Melinda Erkelens have years of running and supporting race-winning Grand Prix sailing teams. Bill was COO for 11th Hour Racing’s recent victory in The Ocean Race, which led to skipper Charlie Enright’s receipt of the 2023 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award. Melinda is now stepping in to work with Francesca to grow opportunities for women Grand Prix sailors. Melinda is hoping to see some California women sailors apply and “tri out!”

Learn more and apply here. Again, applications close March 24.

West Coast Yacht Racing Marches Along

Party and Race in Berkeley

“I wanted to share a new free event we’re planning at Berkeley Yacht Club this year: a crew party for skippers and crew to connect ahead of our Friday night beer can series,” writes Sam Kronick of BYC.

“This is inspired by the great crew list party you organize in the fall, and focused more on getting more folks out sailing during the summer racing season. We have a ton of boat owners who want to do more racing but struggle to find crew. We wanted to create a chance for people to meet and find a possible match on dry land before the season really gets going. It’s the same time and place as our Friday night series, so we’re hoping it will attract a crowd who can regularly make it to the East Bay, but we’re keeping it open to all regardless of experience, club or location. More details here:”

Berkeley Yacht Club start
A start in Berkeley YC’s Midwinters Champion of Champions Race on Sunday, February 25.
© 2024 Glen Garfein

Thanks to Daylight Saving Time (starting on March 10), BYC’s Friday night races will begin on March 15 this year. Sunday afternoon’s Chowder races will wrap up Sunday, March 10.

More Northern California Events

Richmond YC’s Big Daddy Regatta invites one-design fleets and PHRF boats to compete on three East Bay buoy-racing courses on Saturday, March 9. Shark Sandwich will rock the clubhouse on Saturday night. Sunday’s pursuit race will take sailors around Angel Island and Alcatraz — skippers’ choice of direction. The theme is Blue Skies.

The next race in the Singlehanded Sailing Society season will be a third Bay tour, this time Round the Rocks, for singlehanders and doublehanders on March 16.

A rounding of “The Rock” in last year’s SSS Round the Rocks Race.
© 2024

Sequoia YC’s Wednesday Night Summer Pursuit series will begin on March 20 (registration is open on Jibeset). In preparation, Sequoia will host a seminar on Wednesday, March 6; Philip Meredith will discuss the Racing Rules of Sailing. The Redwood City club’s Singlehanded/Doublehanded series will start on March 10.

On March 23, Santa Cruz sailors will race in the Doublehanded Buoy Fiasco, loosely inspired by San Francisco Bay’s Three Bridge Fiasco. See

Island YC’s Sadie Hawkins Regatta is coming up on Sunday, March 24. It’s open to all skippers who identify as female. Everyone is welcome to crew. Racing is entirely on the Estuary. Sign up here. The Sadie Hawkins kicks off Latitude 38’s Unofficial Women’s Circuit, as listed on page 55 of the 2024 Northern California Sailing Calendar (but note the date change).

Second on the list of women’s races is the Anne McCormack Invitational Cup at San Francisco YC on March 30. In this one, everyone on board must be female.

Oakland YC’s Rites of Spring will sail on the Central Bay, also on March 30. This race offers divisions for singlehanders, doublehanders, full crews and multihulls.

Our Friends South of the Tehachapis

Los Angeles Yacht Club is pleased to host the 16th running of The Port of Los Angeles/Cal Maritime Harbor Cup Regatta,” announced Tom Trujillo, Harbor Cup race chairman and principal race officer. The intercollegiate POLA Harbor Cup will take place on March 8-10. “This is one of our favorite regattas of the year,” continued Trujillo, also a staff commodore at LAYC. “This event brings 10 sailing teams to Los Angeles to compete in oceangoing Catalina 37 keelboats.”

The lineup includes defending champion University of Hawaii and eight-time victors Cal Maritime Academy (the host team, based in Vallejo). Other past winners returning are College of Charleston, Maine Maritime Academy, US Naval Academy and the University of Southern California. California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo (aka Cal Poly), US Coast Guard Academy and US Merchant Marine Academy will also compete. The new UC San Diego offshore sailing team will make their debut. Roy P. Disney, owner/skipper of Pyewacket, will serve as keynote speaker at the Saturday night dinner.

This regatta has so many names that we couldn’t fit them all into a two-line entry in the Calendar coming out in the March issue. It’s the Olympic Development Program Midwinters West, aka the ILCA, 29er and I420 Midwinters West. It’s also the Youth Sailing World Championship Qualifier for ILCA 6, 29er and I420, the SCYYRA Ullman Frost Series for ILCA 6 and 7, and the SCYYRA Hamlin Series for 29er skiffs. Whew! Catchy name! Alamitos Bay YC will host in Long Beach on March 21-24. See

Our Friends South of the Border

As we write this post, the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race is underway. MEXORC will follow hot on the heels of the PV Race. The 46th edition will race in Banderas Bay on March 2-6. Marina Vallarta will host, with support from Acapulco Yacht Club, San Diego YC and the PV Race. The ratings rule will be ORR. Racing will consist of windward/leewards with 20- to 30-mile coastal courses on a couple of days. Look for coverage from our correspondent, Martha Blanchfield, in an upcoming issue of Latitude 38.

PV Race start
Saturday’s start of the fastest boats in the PV Race wasn’t looking too fast.
© 2024 Bob Betancourt

The good times will roll at Vallarta YC, at Paradise Village Marina in Riviera Nayarit, for the 31st Banderas Bay Regatta, for racing and cruising boats, on March 19-23. This year’s theme is Mardi Gras.

As usual, these are but a sample of the varied events available to yacht racers on the West Coast. For many more, check out the March Calendar, coming out in Latitude 38 on March 1, and the 2024 Northern California Sailing Calendar. Did we miss mentioning your favorite March regatta? Feel free to promote it in the Comments section below.