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On the Alert for Sonic Death Monkey

With only 12 issues of Latitude 38 a year, and thousands of boats racing, cruising and daysailing between the Delta, San Francisco Bay, Mexico and the South Pacific in any given year, the odds seem small that your boat will end up on the cover. But if you sail a lot, like Dominic Marchal of Marchal Sailmakers does with his Columbia 5.5 Sonic Death Monkey (ex-Alert), the odds go up. Fred Fago was out shooting photos for the Estuary Extravaganza organized by Encinal, Oakland and Island Yacht Clubs and captured an ideal, colorful, October day. He sent a shot to us, and — presto! — it was the perfect cover.

Will Benedict wrote to say that he and his 14-year-old son Alex had a blast sailing with Dominic that day. Dominic was all smiles, since they ended up scoring 1, 1, 2. The cover shot was a bonus. Will and Alex had so much fun sailing with Dominic that they thought they’d surprise him with a 30″ x 40″ poster of the cover, inscribed with the tribute: “To the greatest helmsman on the planet and an okay sailmaker with cool dogs — the Benedicts.”

Dominic Marchal Marchal Sailmakers
Alameda sailmaker Dominic Marchal, back at the loft in Grand Marina. You can stop by to pick up your own copy of the November Latitude 38.
© 2020 Will Benedict

Dominic is one of the main ringleaders of the active Columbia 5.5 fleet, which enjoys the warm, flat-water racing of the Oakland Estuary. We published a Boat of the Month story on the Columbia 5.5 fleet back in our February 2003 issue. We hope to update it soon.

Columbia 5.5 Fleet
The Columbia 5.5 fleet is an elegant and competitive group in the summer Wednesday night series. Don’t let the mellow scene fool you — they’re racing to win.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Alex is following in the deck shoes of his dad Will, who grew up sailing with his dad, Pat Benedict, aboard the J/29 Advantage II, before moving up to the J/105 Advantage III. The family still gets out together on Advantage III. Will and Alex share their racing talents with others as well.

Alex Benedict
Sonic Death Monkey crew and chief of the surprise committee, Alex Benedict, holds up the award.
© 2020 Will Benedict

Got a cover shot hiding in your terabytes? Send it to [email protected].

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