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To Race or Not to Race

A lot of regattas are on the calendar for this weekend. The first weekend of the month is the busiest for midwinters on San Francisco Bay, but some clubs are canceling tomorrow’s races. “Winter Series #3 scheduled for January 7, 2023, is cancelled for safety concerns,” wrote Stan Phillips of Sequoia Yacht Club in Redwood City.

He pointed to the forecasts for 2:00 p.m. on Saturday:

  • PredictWind:
    PWE 26 knots
    PWG 24 knots
    ECMWF 15 knots
  • NOAA weather:
    SSE wind 17 to 20 knots, with gusts as high as 32 knots. Rain.
  • Windy:
    HRR gusts 30 knots
    GFS gusts 31 knots
    ECMWF gusts 27 knots
    NAM gusts 34 knots

“Flotsam in the water will be difficult to see in these conditions. News reports included notice that San Francisco sewer treatment plants overflowed, with warnings not to swim in the Bay,” added Stan.

Storm graphic
We get a little break today, but this is what has prognosticators concerned about tomorrow.
© 2023 Windy

Golden Gate YC, Tiburon YC and Vallejo YC have also canceled their races scheduled for Saturday. So far, Encinal YC’s Jack Frost race is still a go, but that could change. Update as of January 6 at 4:30 p.m.: “Encinal has canceled the Jack Frost race for Saturday with a make-up on 3/4/23,” says Charles Hodgkins, PRO for the Jack Frost Series. He sent this message to the registered skippers: “After consulting the EYC flag and reviewing the available wind models for Saturday that all have gusts 30+ knots over an ebb tide, we have decided to abandon racing on Saturday and re-schedule it on March 4.”

Sunday’s forecast is not quite as foreboding as Saturday’s, and a couple of Bay Area clubs have races scheduled. “So far this series the weather gods have given us excellent racing conditions,” wrote Mary Wand of Sausalito YC, which runs a Chili Midwinter Series.

“We are hoping our luck continues this Sunday, but the weather and wind forecasts are inconsistent, generally showing a rainy morning with a dry afternoon and moderate winds, but with some predicting a wetter and windier afternoon. A little rain won’t hurt us, but if the conditions appear to be dangerous, we will make the decision to abandon or postpone ahead of the noon first warning. Any announcement will be made from shore, as described in Section 7 of the Sailing Instructions, but also please watch your email on Sunday morning. We will notify all racers of our decision prior to the time you need to leave your dock and arrive at the starting area.”

Update as of January 6 at 4:45 p.m.: “As of this moment, the Richmond YC Small Boat Midwinters are still a go for Sunday, January 8,” writes Nancy Pettengill, race chair for the RYC series. “It appears that the weather gods have granted us a brief window of opportunity to sail during the midday hours of Sunday. We’ll be making a final go/no go decision at 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 7. RYC will be posting the status of the midwinters on the RYC web page and Facebook page in addition to notifying all registered competitors and all of our volunteers.”

Check with race organizers if you’ve got racing in your plans for the upcoming weekend, and feel free to comment below with inside intel (but not criticisms, please). We’ll update this story if we receive more information.


  1. Charles Hodgkins 11 months ago

    Encinal has canceled the Jack Frost race for Saturday with a make-up on 3/4/23.

    Charles Hodgkins
    Encinal YC

  2. Christine Weaver 11 months ago

    Encinal Yacht Club has now canceled the Jack Frost races on January 7.

  3. Brent Draney, Encinal Yacht Club Commodore 11 months ago

    Great article Christine and thank you for the bump in communication. Midwinter’s are often a fun respite from the summer bash until they are not. EYC plans alternate dates into the schedule for exactly this reason and we’re happy defer for a chance of a better day in March.

  4. Memo Gidley 11 months ago

    I am a big fan and supporter of Latitude 38 and all the people and clubs that work to get us out sailing!

    The “To Race or Not to Race” article reminded me of another experience that happened to me last Wed. I drove up to my gym of 25 years (JCC San Rafael), to get in a normal workout. When I came to the door, I was told by an employee exiting that the gym just closed at 1 p.m. I asked why and they said because of the predicted storm and for the safety of the employees and their drives home, the gym was closing early (this is the first time in my 25 years at the club that closing for predicted weather has ever happened!). Since I have not watched (by choice since Covid) news for a few years, I asked them what was predicted in the storm and the response “rain and high winds” and the local news was saying how dangerous this was going be! I said this was insane to overreact about a normal winter storm…there were not tornados ripping through Marin were there?! I also said when I drive in wind rain, I would just slow down a little to be safe!

    It seems that in modern society, people are over controlled “for their safety”. Instead of teaching people how to use “common sense” and make their own decisions, regulation is going excessive. And then (most of) the news media feeds on people’s fears and emotions as well…to sell ads.

    Back in 50’s, when my parents and family were sailing their 28′ Friendship Sloop up North around Pt. Conception, if the weather was bad, they went back and anchored until it was acceptable.

    I also just got back from a bike ride out on Tiburon (Sat the day races were cancelled) and the weather to sail looked like a 5-10kts breeze and smooth water…a great day for races. I was happy to see the Yacht Club from Corte Madera area with a fleet of about 7 small boats and kids out on the water…teaching sailing!

    So, let people race. If it requires a reef, put it in. Or if it is too aggressive, stay home.

    I hope one day we are not told when the bay is open or closed for sailing because of weather, but if this all continues as it is, it may happen.

  5. Christine Weaver 11 months ago

    Ed Hanley from Island Yacht Club checks in about the Island Days race on Sunday on the Estuary. “Thanks for checking with us. We are watching the weather carefully. We are seeing, on Sunday, a projected lull in precipitation during race time. ECMWF and GFS models project 7-10 MPH SE winds and no significant precipitation from about 10 a.m. until after sundown. On Weather Underground we are seeing at race time on Sunday SE winds 8-9 mph and 24% chance of rain, declining to 17% by 5 p.m., barometer rising from 29.85″ at midnight to 30.05” at race time.

    “We are planning to run Sunday’s Island Day’s race as scheduled given the current forecast. If conditions and plans change we will let you know.”

  6. Christine Weaver 11 months ago

    From Andrew Lesslie of Sequoia Yacht Club in Redwood City to the racers on the club’s email list: “It looks like Stan made the right call to cancel yesterday’s race. Gusts in our racing area were recorded as over 30 knots and over 40 knots later in the evening.”

  7. Christine Weaver 11 months ago

    Race cancelations are possible in the second full weekend of January too. Duncan Carter of Lake Merritt Sailing Club sent this message to sailors on January 12: “Commodore Hazlewood has cancelled the scheduled regatta on Lake Merritt for Sunday, January 15, 2023, because of adverse weather. See you on the Lake on February 11!”

  8. Christine Weaver 11 months ago

    On Friday, January 13, Berkeley Yacht Club posted this notice on their Midwinters Jibeset page: “Saturday’s (1/14/23) race is abandoned due to weather. As of 2:33 p.m. today the National Weather Service issued a Gale Warning for SF Bay for Saturday from 3 a.m. to 9 p.m.”

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