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Capsize at Golden Gate Midwinters

Race 3 in Golden Gate Yacht Club’s five-race Seaweed Soup Series was held in gear-busting conditions on January 6. The cold front that blew through brought little actual rainfall but plenty of big, blustery breeze, with short ebb chop. You might compare it to summer sailing in the Slot. The difference was the intensity and shifty nature of the gusts, and the wind direction, with lots of south in it.

Move with twist in spinnaker
Before the start, the Pogo 40 Möve had a twist in their spinnaker, but got it out before the race went into sequence. They and the trimaran in the background, the F-31R Hullabaloo, were among the boats that reefed their mains.
© 2024 Slackwater SF

GGYC runs one midwinter race on the first Saturday of each month, November-March. In last Saturday’s race, the first leg took the fleet from the start off GGYC’s clubhouse on the San Francisco Marina to a weather mark, Blackaller Buoy. Due to an ebb maxing out at close to 3 knots, boats went out into the middle of the Bay rather than working the Crissy Field shoreline.

About halfway through the leg, Zhenya Kirueshkin-Stepanoff’s Martin 243 Nice Rack caught a stinger, capsized, and sank partway. Just one rack and the top of the mainsail remained visible to the rest of the sailors racing past. Gordie Nash and Ruth Suzuki’s Arcadia was close by, and they radioed the race committee to alert them of the situation.

Nice Rack at the race start
Nice Rack starts the January 6 Seaweed Soup Series race in the PHRF 2 Division. Martin 243s are popular elsewhere, but Nice Rack is the only one actively racing on San Francisco Bay.
© 2024 Slackwater SF
Maersk ship, racers, capsized boat
A Maersk container ship rumbles into the Bay as racers beat their way up to Blackaller. Note the capsized boat is on the far right of this very zoomed-in image. Arcadia is the yellow boat on the left.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Nicholas Grebe’s Santa Cruz 37 WildCard stopped racing, put away their sails, and circled around. Their well-prepared crew deployed their Lifesling and fished out the three Nice Rack crew, Steve, Nick and Patrick. Jack Peurach’s Farr X2 Shake & Bake did likewise, and picked up the skipper.

PHRF 1 start
The PHRF 1 start, with the X2 Shake & Bake deeply reefed, and WildCard on the right.
© 2024 Slackwater SF
Shake & Bake, Nice Rack and WildCard
Shake & Bake and WildCard respond to the capsized Martin.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The USCG and SFPD also responded to the scene. The Coasties issued a UMIB (Universal Marine Information Broadcast) to alert vessels in the area of the hazard to navigation.

SFPD marine patrol boat
The SFPD raced to the scene with blue lights blazing.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

We heard the sirens of first responders speeding down Marina Boulevard, but paramedics did not stop at GGYC to check out the crew, who, wrapped in blankets, later sat around a table at the clubhouse. They thought they were only in the water for about 15 minutes, with no apparent injuries.

During this early leg, instruments on boats racing in the vicinity were showing 21-28 knots apparent wind speed. NOAA had forecast gusts of 30, and the worst of the weather was yet to come. During the second lap, the squall hit. One of the skippers mentioned noticing an apparent wind gust of 40 knots. Was it even raining yet? It was hard to tell, as there was so much spray flying from the short-period waves. Deep wakes from nearby ship and ferry traffic upped the discomfort quotient.

About a third of the boats registered stayed home; another half dozen, including the three mentioned above, dropped out. (We think that WildCard and Shake & Bake might be eligible to request redress.) A J/22 that did finish returned to GGYC with a ripped main.

We’ve reached out to the skipper and hope to have more details for Racing Sheet in the February issue of Latitude 38. The series will continue on February 3. Sign up or check standings at



  1. Rick Johnson 6 months ago

    So… am I the only one confused by the phrase “…caught a stinger” with reference, apparently, to the reason that Nice Rack capsized? Seriously, I don’t get it, but I’m prepared to be edified.

  2. Mike Robinson 6 months ago

    Sorry Gordie but unless the article was unclear there is an obligation to render assistance to an entire crew in the water. Kudos to the two race boats that withdrew to assist.

    • Paul Galvez 6 months ago

      Way to go Wild Card and Shake & Bake! Both boats demonstrating excellent seamanship and acting swiftly. Glad you guys sprang into action instead of just watching the show. Good on ya!

  3. Bill O'Connor 6 months ago

    These fragile, streamlined speed -machines that weigh about 100 pounds and constructed of cheap, light-weight material designed for speed have no business on the Bay in those kind of conditions…
    makes one wish they were out there sailing a Bird.

  4. Christine Weaver 6 months ago

    Rick, a “stinger” is a just a sudden gust, often a surprise one rather than one that the crew can spot coming. Mike, Gordie and crew on Arcadia sailed close enough to hail the crew of Nice Rack, who at that time appeared to have still been trying to right the boat. This is unconfirmed as I have not spoken to Gordie about it (I will reach out to him). But don’t just assume that the Arcadia crew did something wrong without finding out the specifics of the moment.

  5. Christine Weaver 6 months ago

    Here are the specs on the Martin 243, according to Sailboat Data:

  6. Big Dave 6 months ago

    C’mon now! Thanks, Nicholas and Jack.

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