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The Master Mariners Return to the Bay for a Magnificent Regatta

After the Master Mariners Regatta joined the long list of canceled events last year, hopes were high for this year’s comeback. It turned out as bright as the varnish on the many gleaming toerails. A healthy fleet of 46 boats signed up. All who showed up were met with blue skies, sunshine, a big flood, big breeze and big smiles. Most boats sported full crews of deckhands, vaccinated and occasionally masked, to press the wooden hulls and canvas hard around the course.

Alan Olson
Alan Olson’s inspiring dream was to build a tall ship to create opportunities for today’s youth. He was thrilled to finally join the Master Mariners Regatta.
© 2021 Jerry Fiddler

We were very fortunate to hitch a ride on the Bay Area’s magnificent tall ship, the Matthew Turner, under the command of skipper Adrian McCullough with founder Alan Olson at the helm. After the keel was laid in 2013 and the hull launched in 2017, the USCG-certified Matthew Turner was getting ready to begin her Bay sailing career in April a year ago when the pandemic intervened. As most active Bay Area sailors have seen, Matthew Turner sightings on the Bay are now more common than whale sightings. According to Olson, Call of the Sea’s Matthew Turner has been sailing about four days a week taking out paying guests from yacht clubs and other organizations, which helps to fund the brigantine’s upkeep and educational mission. Don’t miss an opportunity to sail aboard.

Edward King sailed with us on the Matthew Turner and caught the almost 100-year-old Brigadoon in a Bay classic pose. She was built shortly after the last pandemic!
© 2021 Edward King

Sausalito Yacht Club runs the race committee and sets up the reverse-handicap reaching start in front of St. Francis Yacht Club. This means small boats start first and the Matthew Turner plays sweeper, with the goal of a come-from-behind finish. The flood made the reach to Little Harding a tight one. Matthew Turner worked hard to stay above Harding Rock. The engine allowance gives a square-rigged brigantine a fighting chance given the challenges of getting downwind topsails upwind from Little Harding to Yellow Bluff against a full-bore flood. The innovative twin-prop hybrid diesel-electric drive made short work of that leg, but there was still a lot of sailing to do.

Freda Start
Freda nailed a great start with Bounty just below and looking fast, while Brigadoon headed toward the line for her turn to start.
© 2021 Will Campbell

The Master Mariners have probably put a combined million miles under their keels on this course, which, after Yellow Bluff, heads to Blossom Rock, on to Southampton Shoal, then to a reaching finish in the lee of Treasure Island. After the finish, boats head down the Oakland Estuary for post-race celebrations at Encinal YC in Alameda.

Call of the Sea's Matthew Turner
Call of the Sea’s Matthew Turner sets off to stalk the fleet on the broad reach from Yellow Bluff to Blossom Rock.
© 2021 Lyon Omohundro
Chris Ray went airborne to catch this starting shot with Mayan, Freda, Freda B and Bounty heading off for a sunny day of sailing.
© 2021 Chris Ray
Ron Young Youngster
Ron Young’s 80-plus-year-old Youngster, smartly trimmed and looking in fine form after a spring refit by the dedicated volunteer crew.
© 2021 Jerry Fiddler
Matthew Turner Crew In the rigging
Matthew Turner’s skilled, mostly female crew made smooth work managing the complicated rigging aloft and on deck.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

This year’s EYC festivities were especially welcome after a year’s absence. Though the Master Mariners fleet didn’t get to race last year, many were able to take advantage of the time off for some extra care and maintenance. The normal chance for the public to see them up close and personal in June’s Wooden Boat Show has been postponed until the fall, but, for now, the boats and crews are just happy to be sailing again. We’ll bring you more photos and details on the regatta in the July issue of Latitude 38.


  1. John Sutton 4 months ago

    Great photos. I was able to watch this race from the water several years ago. Such a joy to see these “Old Guys”, especially the staysail schooners, under full sail in a nice breeze.
    On one photo (Chris Ray), there were 5 boats but only 4 names provided. Which was which

  2. Memo Gidley 4 months ago

    So great to see photos and hear about the Master Mariners race! I was so sad that I could not be there to witness in person on “Basic Instinct” (not a wooden classic!). As an anchor out kid raised in Sausalito, I was raised around such a great group of passionate wooden boat builders and sailors. And I must say, there is nothing like my time spent aboard and sailing on some great wooded vessels. The feel, smell and taste of a classic wooden vessel…second to none! I was lucky to be raised by my Mom and Dad (Mary and Cass), on the Sausalito based “Yo Ho Ho”, a 62′ Alden cutter built in 1930. And then another great classic wooden boat I spent time as a young kid around as she was put back into sailing shape was the “Wander Bird”. Harold Sommer was good friends with my Dad. He and his family and the large group of people that helped him get her back to sailing…great people with amazing woodworking talent. I was fortunate to have been invited to sail on the “Wander Bird” maiden voyage down to LA and back. As a kid, did not know how lucky I was, but now so thank full. To all the wooden boat owners and builders…thanks for keeping something great going strong for the rest of us to enjoy seeing!!! I so appreciate it!!!!!

  3. Martin Thomas 3 months ago

    We waited for the fleet to arrive at EYC, Latitude advised as early at 2PM but first boat did not show until 330. We had to leave by 520 and only 10 boats had docked. Disappointed by the low turnout but the cold windy conditions were not very inviting.

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