Skip to content
April 17, 2024

Compete Against 100 Boats in a 37-Race Series on the Estuary

The biggest racing series in San Francisco Bay is underway. By the time it ends, the organizers expect to score 100 boats against one another in a 37-race series. Encinal, Island and Oakland Yacht Clubs have created the Boss of the Estuary Beercans series as an overlay on top of their respective weeknight races for this spring and summer. Last year 100 boats entered one or more of those series.

According to one volunteer, “The Estuary is special because it is so easy to enter and compete in three clubs’ weekday evening beer can races. Each club does things slightly differently on slightly different parts of the Estuary, but each series is well run and fun. The competition is always close by, and the shifty winds keep people on their toes. The water’s flat, and winds are more moderate than on the Central Bay, making for very pleasant evenings. The fees are pretty low too: People who registered early for each club’s series only paid $14 per race, or less.”

Estuary racing, Port of Oakland
Estuary racing, with the Port of Oakland in the background. (This photo is of an OYC Sunday Brunch race about a month ago). The Estuary beer can series racers get a view of the port without having to negotiate shipping traffic.
© 2024 Slackwater SF

To have each boat directly compete against all the others, across classes with potentially different courses, the series is scored by taking the race distance and dividing it by the boat’s corrected time to compute an average corrected speed. The boat with the highest average corrected speed wins and gets credit for beating 100% of their competitors entered in that race. The boat with the second-highest speed is second and beats all but one of their competitors, and so on. Boats that do not race beat no one. For series standings, the percentage of competitors beaten in each race is added up. The highest total wins the series.

The three clubs are running 37 races for this series. As appropriate for a series designed to boost participation, there are no throwouts.

There are also no fees beyond the entry fee for each club’s beer can races. Racers can choose to enter just one or two of the individual club series, or even just one race, but the organizers expect the winner of the series will be a boat that enters all three series.

“By encouraging boats to race each Friday at Encinal or Island, who alternate weeks, and each Wednesday at Oakland, we hope to help boaters have a great time twice a week. And also to get a chance to really practice skills, because we all get better, and more confident, with practice.”

Registration for each club’s beer cans is open now on Jibeset:

Good Jibes #138: Robbie Haines on Leading a Winning Racing Program

This week’s host, John Arndt, is joined by Robbie Haines to chat about his lifetime of success at sea. Robbie is an Olympic champion who has won seven world championships on four different classes of boats.

Robbie Haines, Ed Trevelyan, and Rod Davis enjoy a podium moment.
© 2024 Robbie Haines

Hear why confidence is so important in sailing and life, how to become a professional sailor, stories from the Olympics, how to prepare a boat for a race, and about the best family vacation he’s ever had.

This episode covers everything from the Olympics to catamarans. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:

  • How did Robbie get to the Olympics?
  • When did he start managing boats?
  • How were the 1984 Olympics?
  • Who’s navigating in the next race?
  • How old was the crew at the time of Morning Light?
  • Is Robbie done racing?
  • What’s next for Pyewacket?
  • Short Tacks: Where’s Robbie’s favorite place to sail?

Learn more on Instagram @Pyewacket70 and at

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast spots — follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re feeling the Good Jibes!

Short Sightings: Newsbites and Current Events From the West Coast

Today we take some short tacks up the Cityfront with newsbites and upcoming events washing across the tidelands of our desktop.

Whatever happened to Sy Kleinman’s Classic Frers 58 Swiftsure?

John Taussig of Marine Medical Guides recently bought Sy Kleinman’s former aluminum Frers 58 Swiftsure and sailed her north from Long Beach to Seattle, where he’ll be restoring her to use as a teaching platform for his medical training at sea. When complete, the boat will be spending summers in the PNW, spring and fall in the Bay Area, and winter in SoCal. We learned about John in our Good Jibes podcast, where he told us about his life as a paramedic when he used to commute to work across Monterey Bay by sailboat. John’s program means hundreds more will join Walter Cronkite as sailors with stories to tell from a memorable sail on “Big Blue.”

It’s a Great Weekend To Go Sailing and …

Saturday, April 20, is Opening Day at Treasure Island Sailing Center. Everyone who knows you’re a sailor probably says, “Sailing is so cool. How do I get my kid into sailing so he can be one of the cool kids?” Treasure Island Sailing Center is one great way. There’s a long list of other great programs around the Bay here if you’re looking to give your kid a lifetime of sailing and life skills.

Also on Saturday the 20th is the Sausalito Tall Ship Festival with the Matthew Turner at the Army Corps of Engineers docks. It runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with live music, exhibits and sailing ships. Free. Info,

Plus there’s a Berkeley Yacht Club swap meet … and an Open House at Naos Yachts on Friday and Saturday, with boats from Beneteau, Antares and Wellcraft on display at their offices in Richmond.

There are more events and races for the sunny sailing weekend ahead on our calendar here. What are your sailing plans?

Are Kelp Cutters a Thing of the Past? 

We’ve heard the news about kelp disappearing at the hands of sea urchins for years (do sea urchins have hands?). But it wasn’t until the recent International Ocean Film Festival that we were able to really understand the scale of the problem. In a quantity that’s almost impossible to believe, scientists report that 96% of the kelp forests in Northern California have disappeared in the last decade. That’s a staggering amount. The long, complex relationship among kelp, climate change, purple urchins, and sunflower sea stars (and a mysterious disease that has wiped them out) is highlighted in one of the films available from Nature Magazine. However, if you missed the film festival this past weekend, you can see the whole program online with a $140 ticket available here. There were many great films, including a surfing set with a profiled young surfer named Zoe whose surfing life started in Santa Cruz and Mavericks. Hurry; the online show ends April 22.

The World Match Racing Circuit Kicks Off at Long Beach Yacht Club This Weekend

The World Match Racing Tour kicks off this week in Long Beach, California, with 17 teams and over 100 of the world’s top match-racing sailors competing across back-to-back events: the Ficker Cup Regatta (18-21 April) followed by the 59th edition of the Congressional Cup. Both events are hosted by the prestigious Long Beach Yacht Club, this year celebrating its 95th Anniversary.

Starting Friday, April 19, eight teams from five countries will compete at the three-day Ficker Cup Regatta, finishing Sunday, April 21. The Ficker Cup lineup includes three female skippers, Nicole Breault (USA, Vela Racing), Megan Thomson (NZL, 2.0 Racing) and Celia Willison (NZL, Edge Women’s Match). The top three teams from the Ficker Cup will move up to compete in the oldest continuously held sailing match-race regatta in the world, the prestigious LBYC Congressional Cup, starting the following week on April 24.

Only a Few Days Left to BOGO

If you haven’t yet done so, it’s time to get your BOGO on. Back in February we announced the “Latitude 38 BOGO Special” — our “buy one get (gift) one” offer for new Latitude 38 print magazine subscribers. We’ve had boatloads of sailors jump onboard with this special deal, but time is almost up. The promotion ends this week, on Saturday, April 20.

The “Latitude 38 BOGO Special” is our gift to you — well, to your friend, actually. When you sign up for a six-month subscription to Latitude 38 magazine, we will give one of your friends a free six-month subscription. By the way, this is a perfect pickup line: “Hey, do you wanna BOGO with me?”

The offer is available to new or returning subscribers only. This means if it is your first time subscribing to Latitude 38 magazine, or you are a previous subscriber whose subscription lapsed one or more years ago. The same applies to your friend.

Get the full details here.

Latitude Spring-Fling Magazine Special
See the sailor reading Latitude 38? Now, just add a friend to the picture …
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Archives

Last Reminder for Earth Day Events

Last week we talked about the I Heart Oakland-Alameda Estuary group’s Earth Day cleanup event that takes place this coming weekend on Saturday, April 20. But in case you can’t make it on Saturday, remember that you can be Earth Day-aware every day! California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways has a webpage dedicated to “Boating Clean and Green,” with tips on things we can all do, wherever and whenever we go out on the water (which hopefully is all the time).

Earth Day is on April 22, but there are events happening on many other days too. Check out this map to find one near you.

Earth Day event map 2024
And that’s not all of them! Go to the page and click on a pin to see what’s happening in that location.
© 2024

Saildrone Launches Its Largest Ever Autonomous Sailboat

Who’s the largest sailboat builder in California? We don’t know the exact production numbers, but we suspect it’s Saildrone in Alameda. They continue to build autonomous research vessels from 23-ft up to their most recent launching of a 65-ft version (built in Alabama). Their huge manufacturing facility building the 23-ft and 33-ft versions is adjacent to Alameda’s Seaplane Lagoon, and it employs many from the marine trades. It’s a modern version of boatbuilding, and it’s good to see it happening in Northern California.

A Saildrone destined for the Navy was recently test-sailed on Mobile Bay, AL.
© 2024 Saildrone

Saildrone and Austal USA recently announced the launch of a new generation of Surveyor-class unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), purpose-built for long-range, long-endurance autonomous deep-water ocean mapping missions and maritime-domain awareness (MDA). Of course, Saildrone tracks all their missions, and reports that their vessels have collectively sailed 1,144,104 miles and spent 36,234 days at sea. That’s more than enough for a six-pack license.

According to Saildrone, the 65-ft Surveyor is the world’s largest unmanned, autonomous vehicle class in operation. The Surveyor will be providing the US Navy and other government customers with a cutting-edge solution for persistent presence at sea, open-ocean hydrographic surveys, and other missions requiring continual wide-area coverage.

Saildrone founder and CEO Richard Jenkins, ACMC Gen. Christopher J. Mahoney, CNO Adm. Lisa Franchetti, and Austal USA Acting President Michelle Kruger stand in front of SD-3000, the first production Saildrone Surveyor USV to come off the Austal USA manufacturing line. Photo: Courtesy Austal USA.
© 2024 Saildrone

“It is tremendous to see the first vehicle launched of many that will be produced here in Alabama,” said Saildrone founder and CEO Richard Jenkins. “We are honored to have Adm. Franchetti here in person to witness the start of the creation of a new fleet of USVs alongside traditional manned ships. Everyone at Saildrone is very proud to be supporting the US Navy and contributing to our defense and national security.”

A lineup of 33-ft Saildrones destined for service with the US Navy.
© 2024 Saildrone

This is an obvious part of the trend toward autonomous vehicles of all types as Saildrone joins Bay Area pioneers Tesla and Waymo in putting driverless vehicles on the market. Amazon is developing autonomous delivery drones, and autonomous ships and planes aren’t far behind. Soon we’ll all have more time for sailing.

Driverless Waymo
This driverless Waymo is picking up the skipper from the driverless Saildrone at the St. Francis Yacht Club.
© 2024 Leslie Arndt

Saildrones of all sizes are now deployed across all the oceans of the world, with remote pilots following their tracks and directing their courses to monitor ocean health, illegal fishing, human trafficking or whatever their clients wish to monitor. If you happen to see one out in the ocean, don’t forget to smile: You may be on “candid camera!”

Given the huge number of armchair sailors who would love to race around the world, we are waiting for the recreational version to be made available for an Autonomous Armchair Sailor Circumnavigation race where participants can own or charter their own Saildrone to race around the world from home! In the meantime, check out these sail-from home options that are already available: Virtual Regatta, and e-Sail — a “learn to sail” simulator.

They’re not the real thing, but when it’s all you have … “It’ll do, Pig.”

From the Magazine
How do you bring more sailors to the sport of sailing? Start early and start small. Martha Blanchfield writes about kids who are born into sailing families.