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April 12, 2024

High School Northern League Championship Sails in Redwood City

Eighteen high schools showed up for their Northern League Championship last weekend at the Port of Redwood City, where Redwood High, Marin County, got the job done over two days and 24 races.

Breeze up at Northern California High School sailing
The breeze came up on the race course.
© 2024 Kimball Livingston

Along with adept race management by young volunteers, Peninsula Youth Sailing Foundation provided a fleet of matched boats for rotations between two divisions. Redwood won both.

That decisive win came with a trophy, historic but repurposed for the event, plus a trip for the winners to a high school regatta in Annapolis, Maryland, in June sponsored by five foundations. Those unprecedented sweeteners turned up the heat, and Morgan Headington, Redwood’s A division skipper, said, “Win or lose, it was great to see opportunities for high school sailing growing.”

Redwood High School
It was tight quarters for winners Morgan Headington and Henry Vare in the Northern League championship.
© 2024 Kimball Livingston

However, you will not find Headington, most of the time, sailing one of the FJ dinghies — designed 68 years ago — that are standard for high school sailing in California. FJs are tactical, not fast. Headington and crew Henry Vare are both speed-addicted to wing foiling. Headington allowed for a little crossover when he said, “FJs help me develop strategic thinking for speed and distance to a starting line. That’s valuable. But I feel a need for speed — unless I’m winning.”

Emi Puertas
Encinal High sailor Emi Puertas focusing downwind. .
© 2024 Kimball Livingston

Feva class North American champion Rhett Krawitt shared the skippering of Redwood’s B team with Mark Xu, but Krawitt is speed-addicted in turn to 29er skiffs. Compared to skiff speeds, the attraction of high school sailing, he said, “is being part of a team; you don’t always get that in other sailing, but it’s hard to find a balance.”

Perhaps what Krawitt really means is that it’s hard to find enough sailing time in one life.

Northern California High School sailing
Spectators watching the competition for the Northern California High School championship regatta.
© 2024 Kimball Livingston

And we ought to mention a common thread of childhoods spent in Optis.

Crew time with Krawitt and Xu was shared between Whitney Feagin (light air) and Akira Bratti (more breeze). Second place was claimed by Stevenson School, Pebble Beach, followed closely by Encinal High. For Stevenson, Max McCormick and Patrick O’Hara skippered. For Encinal, that fell to lifestyle sailors Marco Puertas and sister Emi. Emi shared the too-common observation that, “Our school doesn’t consider us as a club, even, and sailing is not regarded as a sport.”

But if you gotta sail, you gotta sail.

Even Redwood’s team is not fully embraced by the school despite a long history of success. At The Bay School in the Presidio, however, the athletic department speaks sailing, and Bay’s Caleb Everett and Anna Rauh were the second-place boat on points behind Headington and Vare.

Redwood High School Winners
The Redwood High School team came out on top.
© 2024 Kerry Headington

That’s not what Everett was aiming for, but he said, “Hey, we’re a young team.”

And that’s our no-punches-pulled report on high school sailing in the Bay Area.

The kids are all right.

Complete results can be seen here.

Latitude 38 Crew Mingle at Svendsen’s Spring Fling Show

The day has arrived! Today is the start of Svendsen’s third annual Spring Fling Marine Expo. We’re there. Are you? We arrived early this morning to set up our booth among the sailing community. Everyone was busy getting their displays organized, and catching up with and greeting friends.

Spring Fling
Nicki Bennett is bright and chirpy, as always, and ready to greet you with a warm smile and lots of sailing chatter.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Brady and Blue will give you the rundown on Cruisers Academy.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
No boat show would be complete without Ronstan’s Alan Prussia.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Stop in to chat with the crew from Sausalito’s Modern Sailing School & Club, and learn how they can get you on the water, here or across the globe.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Need a new watermaker or canvas for your boat? The crew from Schenker and Compass Canvas have you covered.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

And that’s not all — we haven’t had time to photograph everyone and everything. There are many more exhibitors and sailing enthusiasts to hang out with. You can even chat with the City of Alameda and find out more about the proposed pedestrian bridge.

There is a $10 entry, but you get to trade this for a $15 coupon on a Svendsen’s purchase! Sounds like a good deal to us. Plus Svendsen’s is offering a huge selection of Spring Fling deals today and tomorrow.

Svendsen’s Doug Paulsen is showing us the discounts available at the Spring Fling. That’s a good list of deals!
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

So, what do you say? Will we see you? Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

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Owners can enjoy the additional income while still benefiting from all of the standard program features, with all costs included, and up to 12 weeks of sailing from any Dream Yacht destination. CLICK HERE to learn more about Dream Guarantee.

Bay Area Sailor Pat Broderick Is Sailing Aboard ‘Stad Amsterdam’

A few days ago, Bay Area sailor Pat Broderick stowed his duffel and backpack aboard the Stad Amsterdam and stood on deck to wave farewell to the USA. Pat is onboard for the ship’s expected 28-day voyage from Hawaii to Tokyo, and as promised, is keeping us updated on his experience.

“Did I feel like Ishmael as he boarded the Pequod? Was an angry Captain Ahab driving the crew as the ship departed? Did Starbuck bark orders to break out the sails? And did we sail off into the unknown seeking the White Whale? Not really. But as I watched the dock hand toss the final line into the water, maybe some. It was the final link to land.”

Captain Sune Blinkenberg monitors the Stad Amsterdam’s departure from Hawaii.
© 2024 Pat Broderick

Stad Amsterdam threw her last docklines at 1:30 p.m. (Hawaii time) and sailed a westerly course along Oahu’s southern shore. “As the sun went down Honolulu’s lights glowed on the fading island,” Pat writes, “the last land we’ll see until Japan appears on the horizon about 28 days from now.”

The Stad Amsterdam is a modern version of the square-riggers of centuries past. The 250-ft-long steel-hulled ship was launched in 2000. And while she still relies on fossil fuels, she is gradually being upgraded to incorporate the latest technology to reduce both her carbon footprint and her ecological impact.

Ultimately they want to get back to where tall ships started, traveling the world using only the wind, although with the comforts and convenience of modern life. To this end, the Stad Amsterdam has a total sail area of almost 22,000 square feet, across 31 sails, which Pat tells us are controlled by several hundred lines.

Stad Amsterdam sail drawings on deck
The crew teach guest crew about the sails by using “deckboard” drawings.
© 2024 Pat Broderick
It’s sometimes easier to sit down while raising the sails.
© 2024 Pat Broderick

Pat is on the daytime “White Watch” between 2 and 6 p.m. On day two of his voyage, the wind blew easterly in the low teens for most of the day. “For a while the crew worked at rigging the studding sails on yards that extend out from yards on the main and foremasts, but the wind piped up and the sails remained on deck. I counted 17 sails set through the evening.”

By day three the wind was fluky and had dropped significantly. By the time Pat was on watch the captain ordered the crew to strike sail and coil the lines while he started the engine. “We’re motoring at about 6 knots in the right direction,” Pat tells us. “He [Capt. Blinkenberg] says we’ll have at least one day and perhaps more before we find enough wind to sail.”

Pat took this photo of the ship’s path on day three of his voyage, showing the result of the fluky winds.
© 2024 Pat Broderick

We’ll bring you more updates of Pat Broderick’s voyage aboard the Stad Amsterdam soon. Stay tuned …

Mariners Rescued From Uninhabited Island After Writing “HELP” With Palm Fronds

We’ve seen it movies — mariners stranded on an uninhabited island signaling their plight and being rescued. This week the scenario was real when three mariners were rescued from a tiny, uninhabited island in Micronesia after laying out palm fronds on the beach to spell “HELP.” On April 6, a relative notified the USCG that her three uncles had failed to return home after departing Poluwat Atoll on March 31 aboard a 20-ft outboard-powered open skiff.

The experienced mariners, all in their 40s, had been heading for Pikelot Atoll, approximately 100 miles northwest of Poluwat. They were in familiar waters but had sustained damage to their skiff and outboard, becoming stranded on the small island covering less than 2000 square feet. On April 7, a US Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft identified the stranded men and confirmed their presence and condition. The aircraft crew successfully dropped survival packages to sustain the mariners until further assistance could arrive.

Palm leaves spell HELP on beach
The crew of a Hawaii-based HC-130J Hercules aircraft made contact with three mariners stranded on Pikelot Atoll, Yap State, Federated States of Micronesia. After dropping them a radio on April 8, the air crew informed the men that USCGC Oliver Henry would arrive on April 9 to transport them home to Poluwat Atoll.
© 2024 U.S. Coast Guard

On April 8, a US Coast Guard Hercules aircraft from Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, flew over the area and dropped a radio to establish communication. The mariners confirmed they were in good health, had access to food and water, and had recovered their damaged skiff. The next morning, they were picked up by the USCG’s 154-ft Fast Response Cutter Oliver Henry. The men and their equipment were taken aboard and returned to their home port, Poluwat Atoll.

The rescue operation was a coordination of US Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam and the US Navy. USCG Lt. Chelsea Garcia, the search and rescue mission coordinator on the day the mariners were located, said spelling out “HELP” on the beach with the palm fronds was a crucial factor in their discovery. “This act of ingenuity was pivotal in guiding rescue efforts directly to their location,” Lt. Garcia said. “This successful operation underscores the effective coordination and partnership between the US Coast Guard, the US Navy, and regional partners. We extend our gratitude to everyone involved.”

The USCG concluded their report with the recommendation that “all mariners equip their vessels with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) to enhance safety on the water. A growing number of maritime communities offer loaner programs for these devices, making it easier for everyone to access this critical safety tool.”

We wrote about a similar rescue in 2020 when mariners were rescued from an uninhabited beach in Micronesia after writing SOS on the beach. You can read that story here: SOS