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May 22, 2024

A Time-Honored Tradition: Master Mariners Regatta and Luncheon

The time-honored tradition of the annual Master Mariners Regatta is coming up this Saturday with a noon start in front of the St. Francis Yacht Club. Another part of this tradition is the annual luncheon, also at the St. Francis Yacht Club, the week before the race. Here the Master Mariners Benevolent Association gathers for the skippers’ meeting, and to connect boats with their sponsors. It’s always a great affair. This year, while we missed the event as we were at the Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show in Redwood City, Randall von Wedel attended and sent in a few photos from the luncheon.

MMBA Commodore
MMBA Commodore Hans List heads up the ceremonies at the Master Mariners Luncheon.
© 2024 Randall von Wedel

Today, wooden boat buffs are a splinter group of the expanded world-sailing scene; however, the sea stories from the annual Master Mariners Regatta began in 1867, when wooden workboats from San Francisco and the Delta battled it out on the Bay in front of a crowd of spectators watching from Telegraph Hill. Today the tradition continues, as vessels such as the Matthew Turner, Freda B and numerous other members of the local classic sailing scene will go out to strut their stuff in pursuit of the banner with the strutting gamecock declaring the winner. Of particular note this year is Terry Klaus’ Brigadoon, which is celebrating her 100th birthday!

MMBA Luncheon
The MMBA luncheon always gathers a crowd of wooden-boat enthusiasts and supporters.
© 2024 Randall von Wedel

Contributions and sponsors support the event, and the mission of the MMBA, which is to foster participation in yachting and the preservation of well-designed, properly constructed, and well-maintained classic and traditional sailing craft. Not only does it support the preservation of the vessels, but it also helps support students who are learning the craftsmanship skills to keep them sailing.

Wesley Nunez
Wesley Nunez from Reliable Marine Electronics hands over his sponsor flag with Rear Commodore Liz Diaz (R) and MMBA Board Member Diane Walton(L).
© 2024 Randall von Wedel

Organizations with such a long legacy are always looking for new members to carry the torch into the future. Wesley Nunez of Reliable Marine Electronics is one of the next generation who caught the wooden-boat bug while sailing aboard the Eglestons’ Stone Boat Yard-built beauty Water Witch. The tug to be part of it was so strong that Water Witch lost their crew when Wesley bought the wooden classic Yankee One Design Flotsam, which he’ll race in this year’s regatta. Michael Tosse of Svendsen’s Marine was part of the package, as he’s skippered Flotsam for years and will helm the boat along with Wesley and his dad Roger.

If you’re curious about these traditional craft, it’s worth sailing out to see them this Saturday off the Cityfront. Plus, you can get up close and step aboard many of them by attending the MMBA Wooden Boat Show on June 22 (Summer Sailstice weekend) at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon.

The Yankee One Design Flotsam is just one of many beautiful boats whose graceful lines you’ll see on the Bay.
© 2024 John

The Friday luncheon gives all these vessels and owners the recognition they deserve. This Saturday you can join them, as Andrew Gottscho did last year, all on the Bay.

Good Jibes #143: Kimball Livingston on Improving Youth Sailing

This week’s host, John Arndt, is joined by Kimball Livingston to chat about improving youth sailing and diversity in sailing. Kimball has been covering sailing in the Bay Area since the 1970s, including writing for Latitude 38, and is the staff commodore for youth sailing at St. Francis Yacht Club.

Kimball Livingston and youth sailing crew
Tune in to hear Kimball’s thoughts about the current generation of high school sailors.
© 2024 Kimball Livingston

Hear how we can get more kids into sailing, how to increase the diversity in the sport, how Kimball fell in love with sailing and journalism, how the US can improve its track record in international sailing competitions, and the fascinating history of the Cal 40.

This episode covers everything from youth sailing to writing about sailing. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:

  • How has sailing changed over the years?
  • Why has the world shifted away from sailing?
  • How can we improve youth sailing?
  • What’s great about the current generation of high school sailors?
  • How can we get more kids into sailing?
  • Where is Kimball focusing his efforts now with youth sailing?
  • How can we increase diversity in sailing?
  • Short Tacks: What would Kimball say to non-sailors to get them 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!

Nicole Miller Prepares for the Pacific Cup Race to Hawaii

When we were putting together last Friday’s story about the Pacific Cup entrant Presto, we discovered that one of her crew, Nicole Miller, is a passionate Bay Area sailor who regularly sails aboard another of this year’s entrants, Ross Werner and Kevin Wilkinson’s J/112e Jubilant.

“They [Werner and Wilkinson] are making a family entry and so I needed to find a ride after training with them in OYRA races last year,” Nicole says. “I’m still relatively new to sailing with respect to folks who’ve done this their whole lives. I’m still making mistakes and learning.”

sailor, Nicole Mille
Nicole Miller is preparing for her first Pacific Cup race.
© 2024 Nicole Miller

Nicole has been racing in the Bay for around 17 years. She owned and lightly sailed a Catalina 30 for about five years before returning to sailing on other people’s boats. “Since my husband Tim is not a sailor, but does enjoy baseball and dining (chef owner of Mistral), we just recently got a Duffy, of all things, to spend time in the water with each other and friends.”

Being the sailor of the pair, Nicole says, “I’m very fortunate in that I do not get any flak about spending Friday evenings and many weekends racing. I appreciate that! I sometimes joke that I don’t have to ask the wife if I can go sailing — I am the wife. All kidding aside, I appreciate the freedom to pursue sailing and particularly racing.”

While in college, Nicole crewed once in a beer can race in Redwood City. But it was during a ride with OCSC in 2006 that she found her passion for sailing. Next, she crewed out of Coyote Point and then joined a crew from South Beach aboard a Catalina 30. “Shout-out for the Catalina 30 Nationals coming up this fall.”

“I thought it would be colder up in the City, but it was awesome,” Nicole says. “The sailing culture at South Beach is excellent, and as many know, there’s a fun group of women sailors there and a strong group making sure all folks, including women, get many opportunities to learn and grow as sailors. The Red Bra Regatta is one great example of that. I could list off a dozen or more folks who have kindly given and continue to give me opportunities to learn and grow. I really appreciate our club, the members, and on-the-water programs.”

This will be Nicole’s first Pacific Cup. Over the past year she’s been taking part in Pac Cup training sessions at St. Francis YC, and it was there that she met Joe and Sue Davey of Presto. “I let them know my capabilities and weak spots, and they still warmly invited me to join their crew.”

Presto is a 48-ft Chris White Voyager catamaran. “One of only two made,” Nicole says. She and fellow Pac Cup sailor Ben Carver from Seattle joined Sue and Joe aboard Presto for last weekend’s Pacific NW Offshore Race in what she says were 15-foot seas. “We ended up ninth in line honors and fifth corrected. Twenty-four boats competed. Nothing like a churning sea to help one appreciate life’s simple pleasures of eating and drinking!”

As part of her preparation for the race to Hawaii, Nicole is building “a robust first aid kit and safety plan.” She took the two-day Maritime Medical Guides course at Spaulding last year and is partnering with Sue, who has EMT experience, to set up the kit. “We joke that we are a floating hospital. Hopefully that readiness keeps accidents away!”

Nicole is excited about the race and the experience of making the crossing with Presto’s capable crew. “I love Andy Schwenk’s description of the race ‘course’ — the Great Pacific Whale Pasture.” She adds, “Mahalo to all who have given me a chance on their boats now and in the future; I’m so grateful!”

We snapped this picture of Nicole in 2019 when she won a Jim DeWitt painting after visiting the Latitude 38 booth at the Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

“I love the Jim DeWitt painting that I won,” Nicole adds. “It’s the first painting that you see when you walk into our home!! He contributed so much to our Bay Area community and beyond!”

Max Ebb: Race Crew Care and Feeding (Especially Feeding)

It was during post-race cocktails with my crew, at the corner table in the yacht club bar, the table with the best view. Lee Helm’s phone made a sound like an old Telex teletype machine from the ’80s.

“Text message coming in,” she explained as she opened the message and read it out loud: “Lee, can you race with us next Saturday? Need a mainsheet trimmer too, if you know anybody.”

“I’m going to, like, pass on this race,” she said, typing fast with her thumbs. “I have a major progress report on my thesis to finish.”

“Isn’t that the boat you sail on as tactician?” I asked.

“Yes, it’s a great gig,” she confirmed. “I just hang on the backstay and call tactics, and I get to play with all the big kids in Division A. Most races I don’t ever touch a line or a winch handle. But like, the logistics of that boat are sometimes a pain to deal with.”

“Still, it’s a privilege to sail as tactician at that level of competition,” I noted.

“For sure, Max. But there are downsides. Example: I’m like, up late Friday night printing out the detailed tide charts, then I bike to the boat for the 0800 dock time, and then the boat doesn’t actually cast off till 9:30. Grrr. And like, sometimes for a two-day event, the boat ends up staying at the host club on the other side of the Bay the first night, and no plan in place to get us back to our cars and to my bike. Had to take Lyft. From now on I’m going to insist that I meet the boat at the host club, if that’s where the boat will be after the race.”

“I hear tell that that boat feeds pretty well,” added my foredeck crew, a big guy from Appalachia, another student whom Lee’d introduced to racing. “Calling tactics in the A division, you must be happier than a gopher in soft dirt.”

He had never seen the ocean before coming out here for college, and was not at all bashful about admitting that he’s in it mainly for the free lunches and yacht club dinners.

“Big sammies for sure,” Lee confirmed. “But no custom orders. I have to bring my own ‘tuna and sprouts on thin-sliced toasted sourdough, no tomato.’ You’d think it would be easy enough to phone in custom orders to the local upscale deli.”

“Does the owner at least spring for dinner at the club dining room?” I asked.

“He didn’t have to when the boat was winning,” Lee recalled. “Boats that win don’t need to add perks. But like, this season the bottom is old, we have some gaps in the chute inventory, and the crew are in training. It’s like, if we’re finishing mid-fleet, even the new crew will, like, move on to a winning program after they, like, develop the skills.”

“Chicken-and-egg mode,” I said.

Max Ebb Race Crew
Swiftsure didn’t always win, but Sy and Phyllis always took good care of their crew.
© 2024 Max Ebb

“Need good crew to win, need to win to attract good crew.”

“We know how much the sails cost,” Lee added. “If the Saint Fancy Yacht Club is hosting the regatta, then it’s just proper etiquette to treat the crew to dinner in the upstairs Saint Fancy dining room. It’s way more economical than new sails in terms of speed increment per dollar.”

“And for us starving students, it’s a good way to keep the cows coming back to the same ol’ barn,” added the foredeck crew.

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