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March 4, 2024

Pyewacket Sails to a Win in the Puerto Vallarta Race

Roy Pat Disney’s San Diego-based Andrews 68 Pyewacket is on a roll. The sled won San Diego Yacht Club’s Islands Race (Point Fermin to San Diego) overall on February 9-10. Now they’ve won the Puerto Vallarta International Yacht Race overall too.

Race starts began on Thursday, February 22, and the early-starting boats enjoyed a fresh westerly. The fastest boats, starting on Saturday the 24th, drew the short (windless) straw. “We knew no records would be broken,” reports Scott Easom, headsail trimmer and rigger aboard Pyewacket. “We spent a lot of time with the drifter up.” He told us that the weather pattern was “really strange,” making for a very tactical race.

Pyewacket and Peligroso start the Puerto Vallarta Race
Pyewacket and Cecil and Alyson Rossi’s Dencho/Kernan 68 Peligroso start the Puerto Vallarta Race in a drifter on Saturday, February 24.
© 2024 Bob Betancourt

Pyewacket recorded an average wind speed of 9+ knots, very light even for Mexico. “It wasn’t exhilarating, but it was great for sleeping,” commented Scott.

Pyewacket at sunset
By sunset on Saturday, it was still a drifter.
© 2024 Daryl Wislang / Pyewacket

In the slow going, Scott worried about a personal deadline. He needed to be back in the San Francisco Bay Area in time to skipper his Sabre Spirit 36 Serenade to an overall trophy win in Golden Gate Yacht Club’s Seaweed Soup midwinter series on Saturday, March 2. He stayed in touch with his crew via Starlink, making contingency plans. Thanks to a good breeze later on in the race, Pyewacket finished on Thursday. Scott flew home on Friday, and Serenade won the Seaweed Soup trophy on Saturday.

Pyewacket dueled with Vitesse, Thomas Furlong’s San Francisco YC-based RP 52. Pyewacket won the duel by cutting inside at Cabo, a maneuver that shaved 20 miles off the course.

Pyewacket’s 10-man crew had more than 150 Mexico races among them, and included Olympic medalists, America’s Cup winners and Volvo Race winners. Joining Roy Disney and Scott Easom were Brazil’s legendary Torben Grael, whom Scott called a great driver; navigator and meteorologist Peter Isler; Tony Mutter, Kiwi sailing master of the Rolex Sydney Hobart line honors-winning Juan K 100 LawConnect; Brad Jackson, who also sailed aboard LawConnect; Robbie Kane; Ben Mitchell; Daryl Wislang; and Gary Weisman. Scott called them “an amazing group of offshore sailors.”

Pyewacket crew in Puerto Vallarta
The Pyewacket crew on Thursday evening, following their finish in Puerto Vallarta.
© 2024 San Diego Yacht Club
Rio100 crew in Puerto Vallarta
Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio100 was first to finish the PV Race, arriving a day ahead of anyone else. They had previously taken line honors in the Islands Race, breaking that course record. But no course records were endangered in the 2024 Puerto Vallarta race.
© 2024 Jared Wolgemuth / SDYC

We asked Scott about Disney’s other Pyewacket, the Volvo 70. That boat is on her way from Gibraltar to Florida. After some repair work, she’ll prep for the Bermuda Race.

With his singlehanded win in January’s Three Bridge Fiasco on his J/100 Eight Ball, the Islands Race win and PV Race win on Pyewacket, and GGYC’s overall trophy, Scott Easom has been on a roll in 2024!

We’ll have more on SDYC’s PV Race and GGYC’s Seaweed Soup series in the April issue of Latitude 38.

Olympian JJ Fetter Calling for US Sailing Resignations

Following the turmoil of Paul Cayard’s resignation as executive director of the US Olympic Sailing team and the subsequent lawsuit by US Sailing against AmericaOne, the Associated Press reported that San Diego sailor and two-time Olympic medalist JJ Fetter called for the resignation of the US Sailing leadership who support the lawsuit.

The entire drama is an unfortunate turn of events as US sailors head to Paris for the Olympics, starting in July. The lawsuit, which names  Paul Cayard, Bill Ruh and Leandro Spina, lays out US Sailing’s grievances fracturing the partnership with long-term athlete-funding partner AmericaOne and the three principals named. Until recently, the US held more Olympic sailing medals than any other country but was surpassed by Great Britain after winning only one medal in the last three Olympics. (The one medal was a bronze won by San Diego/Richmond sailor Caleb Paine in the Finn in Rio in 2016; Paine was also the 2016 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year).

The AmericaOne Foundation was formed in the years following its challenge for the America’s Cup in 2000. In addition to “Project Pipeline,” AmericaOne became one of the largest financial supporters of US Olympic sailors, and the lawsuit against it and the former executive director of Olympic sailing follows a critical, confidential US Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) report on funding, management and coaching.

We spoke with US Sailing President Rich Jepsen, who relayed the position that US Sailing felt it had no other choice after the release of the USOPC report than to file a lawsuit. He described how much has changed in Olympic sailing since the IOC started allowing professional athletes to compete in 1988, creating a funding gap for US Olympic sailing relative to some other more sailing-centric countries. In addition, evolving federal law and the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act have created new obligations for the governing body of every Olympic sport. According to Rich, “The USOPC report made clear to US Sailing that, as the governing body for US sailing, we are responsible for the protection of the athletes, and our organization was not living up to those duties. US Sailing is open to discuss and build partnerships with all funding organizations that would serve as a large force extender while still allowing us to fulfill our obligations as an NGB.” (NGBs, or National Governing Bodies, are nonprofit, non-governmental organizations responsible for promoting and developing a particular sport within a nation.)

Beyond this current case, there has been long-standing debate around US Sailing’s core mission and its attempts to serve multiple constituencies. While it is charged with developing talent and managing the success of the US Olympic sailing team, US Sailing also manages racing and handicapping rules, and certification of junior sailing instructors. It holds safety-at-sea training, and is attempting to grow participation and inclusion in sailing — which serves to broaden the base from which future Olympic sailors are drawn — as well as sponsoring numerous other missions to support the success of sailing in general.

For many observers, the current upheaval is the result of the unsettled debate about how US Sailing’s Olympic and general sailing missions can successfully coexist. The lawsuit looks unlikely to help resolve the issue, though it is often said that crisis creates opportunity. Exactly how to solve this multi-decade debate between recreational and Olympic sailing remains to be decided. Max Ebb picks up some of the debate in  the current issue of Latitude 38.

For those who want to dig deeper, both US Sailing and AmericaOne Foundation have posted numerous documents on their websites debating the allegations. We have no doubt that all parties involved in this conflict have what they believe are the best interests of the athletes in mind. The volunteers on the board of US Sailing and those at AmericaOne have all dedicated countless hours and years working together to support sailing and the aspirations of Olympic sailors. We can only hope a resolution can be found that allows US Olympic sailors to continue getting the support they deserve and return the US to the podium.

In the meantime, we have some terrific US representatives headed to the Olympics, including local sailors Daniela Moroz and Hans Henken. Richmond Yacht Club’s David Liebenberg is sailing with Sarah Newberry, and still hoping to qualify in the Nacra 17 class.

Annual Barra de Navidad Cruise-In Week Raises Funds for Local Schools

“There just are not many places like this, anywhere. Especially anywhere you can easily sail to; and really-especially, where you can anchor out with an easy dinghy ride to a welcoming historic fishing village. It’s here, in Barra de Navidad.” Pat and Carole McIntosh from Carmichael, CA, and Barra de Navidad, were among the cruisers who descended on the Mexican destination for the seventh annual Fiesta de Veleros and Cruise-In Week, held early last month.

Cruise-in week 2024
Sailors enjoying a “great downwind leg back to Barra.”
© 2024 Pat McIntosh

“What a great time it has been for the school kids, sailors, kids on boats, shoreside visitors and local folks alike!” Pat writes, adding that around 30 boats were anchored in the lagoon, ready to take part in the event. “Everyone here has enjoyed the warm sunny days, the fun, and beautiful sundowns with splashing shades of golden yellow, bright red horizons and wispy floating clouds of every shade in-between trimmed with hues of magenta and a background of fading blue.”

The Laser above was one of the “top three boats.”
© 2024 Pat McIntosh

Each year, sailors come together for the fun and camaraderie of Cruise-In Week, and for the opportunity to raise funds for the local schools and their students. Schools applying to receive funds have to present a plan outlining how they will use the funds, and afterwards, show the completion of their project along with receipts. Each of this year’s five applicant schools received around $5,600 USD.

Five schools received 97,000 pesos each.
© 2024 Pat McIntosh

Event organizer Elinore Craig shares a wrap-up of this year’s festivities.

“After the popularity of last year’s music cruise, this year we decided to add an additional afternoon/sundown/music cruise. In all, 27 boats went out for the four on-the-water events that included three passenger cruises and the fabulous Flamingo Regatta ‘FUNdrace.’

“The Flamingo Regatta and ‘betting’ together with the ‘fundraising race’ continue to be the largest fundraising events of the week, the most fun for the crew on the boat, and for the viewing crowd on shore. Prizes and awards were given out at the ceremony following the regatta, including a special award to a great friend of Cruise-In Week.

Boaters and land-dwellers alike helped out with handling the boats, event registrations, selling tickets and swag, food deliveries, and, “digging into wallets to donate, and helping the school kids and parents.”

A total of 259 passengers took part in three cruises, with 234 of them being paying passengers, “not including at least three additional private cruises taking out friends and contributing to Cruise-In Week.

“This year was a GREAT year!” Elinore reports. “We started off with two new projects. The first was collecting eyeglasses for residents who need them and can’t afford to get them. The second project was to get a printer for the little ‘one-teacher’ elementary school in Colimilla [a small village on the shore of the Barra lagoon].”

Elinore Craig presents the printer to the one-teacher elementary school.
© 2024 Pat McIntosh

Pat says there were many new cruisers and land-based visitors enjoying this year’s event. “Several have come with their kids, and it’s great to see cruising kids playing in the school yard, or soccer, or other games with the local kids. We know of one family that came to Barra last year and is staying for two months at a time, enrolling their very young children in the schools here. The kids are loving what they call their immersion-school.”

Vallarta Yacht Club’s Andy Barrow was presented with a special award thanking him for his tireless support and the active participation he has generated for Barra de Navidad’s Cruise-In Week from within the yacht club, and from all the sailors in the Banderas Bay area.

Andy Barrow (far right), receives his award. Andy is also credited with coming up with the name “Cruise-In Week”.
© 2024 Pat McIntosh

2024 Optimist Team Trials Coming to San Francisco Yacht Club

There is nothing more uplifting than surrounding yourself with optimists. Anyone looking for those uplifting moments is invited to volunteer for a support role for the Opti Team Trials, coming to San Francisco Yacht Club April 18-21. Your spirits will be lifted by the over 200 Optimists expected to attend from across the country.

Up to 200 Optis are expected to compete on San Francisco Bay in April.
© 2024 Ryan Kern

The Opti Team Trials is one of the largest and most important junior regattas of the year. The nation’s top Optimist sailors, including many locals, qualified for this prestigious event. This regatta consists of the best of the best in the USA, all of whom had to qualify for Team Trials by placing near the top of a series of qualifying events over the past year.

Opti racing is for youth 15 and under, and there will be lots of wind and excitement for viewers who want to boat out to watch the action on the Berkeley Circle. The top finishers will represent Team USA at various international regattas throughout the summer and beyond. This is the first time SFYC has hosted team trials since 2016. If you’re able to lend a hand on land, organizers are seeking many volunteers: no experience necessary. The opportunities are simple, like checking in racers and directing parking lot traffic. If you want to surround yourself with Optimists contact Forrest Gay here.

You can find more information on the event page here.

One thing we like to do when we wake up is read The Daily Optimist. Their quote of the day sounds appropriate: “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan

21st Annual International Ocean Film Festival Tickets Selling Now

We’re water nerds. We admit it. Anything to do with H2O, particularly if it’s the ocean, gets our interest and attention. In this instance, we’re talking about the 21st Annual International Ocean Film Festival (IOFF), which is coming to San Francisco next month. Yes, it’s only the beginning of March, but festival tickets are on sale now, and if you buy today you can take advantage of the “early bird” sale.

The International Ocean Film Foundation Off the Reef Annual Benefit is on Thursday, March 14.
© 2024

Sixteen US-based filmmakers are listed in this year’s program, including Rachel Burnett — 841 (Marine Sciences/Wildlife), Nicole Gormley — Daughter of the Sea (Exploration), Tyler Schiffman — A Disappearing Forest, and Chelsea J Jolly — With the Tide (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). These are only a handful of the 33 films on the program covering everything from nature to culture and sport.

The 21st Annual International Ocean Film Festival has been endorsed by the 2021-2030 United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The main motivation for this global effort is to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and create improved conditions for sustainable development of the ocean. For more information, please visit
© 2024

The IOFF received a record number of submissions representing more than 38 countries for this year’s program. “We are in awe of the amazing skills and talent, the depths of compassionate storytelling, and the thoughtful consideration of subject matter expressed by filmmakers from around the world,” the IOFF website says. “It has been an honor to experience the beauty of the ocean through your lens and your stories. We wish everyone all the best.”

If you want to get an early bird ticket check the schedule here, and use the code FLASHSALE10 at checkout.