Skip to content

‘Random’ — The Boat Sailed by the Godfather of Richmond Yacht Club

If you sail the waves of San Francisco Bay, there’s a sassy, sturdy little wooden boat with a memorable light-green deck top that’s probably caught your attention. This is Hurricane class Random, and for more than 70 years, she’s been under the eye of the Clausen family: first father Bert, then son Kers, today a resident of Brickyard Cove in Richmond. Bert is regarded as the godfather of Richmond Yacht Club (he was club commodore 1961 to ’62). Having negotiated the purchase of the land, he also served as the designer for both the harbor and the yacht club. He developed Brickyard Cove, which today has more than 100 homes, a marina and several commercial buildings. That said, it’s natural that Random (hull #7) is the flagship vessel for Richmond Yacht Club.

saling vessel Random at dock
Random‘s green decks are certainly among her sassy signatures.
© 2024 John 'Woody' Skoriak

In 1949, Random‘s keel was laid and the hull constructed at the Nunes Brothers yard in Sausalito. Continuing buildout at Nunes, Bert focused on deck, spars and interior; carpentry was completed by Karl Peach. Despite having been only 5 years of age at the time, Kers remembers playing alongside his father almost every weekend. Random hit the water in 1955 and quickly started to accrue race wins and family happiness. She’s achieved podium status at club events, YRA ocean races and the annual Master Mariners Benevolent Association regatta; for the latter, often sweeping past competitors to claim wins. In the 1960s, Hurricane one-design starts would draw eight to 10 to the line. The competition was stiffest among Gandy, Haven and Random (carrying crew Bert and Kers Clausen, Milt Morrison and Ralph Rhoda, plus one more). A standout moment mentioned by Kers was the 1960 Lipton Cup, where a fake tack from second tripped up lead boat Gandy and put Random over the line to gold. A second notable ride comes to mind — and you can feel that wash of water and push of pressure from astern as Kers describes it — a 1965 downwind return to the Bay while competing in OYRA Lightship. “Back then, there was no vang or cunningham. Sail controls had to be done on deck while at the mast. We almost always carried a spinnaker, but that day may have been different. I recall plenty of wind, getting tossed about in major waves, and losing the aft hatch cover,” he says. “Random clocks six knots in good breeze. This boat has no reef points; she’s built for surly Bay conditions.”

Random on the water.
© 2024 John 'Woody' Skoriak

Continue reading in the February issue.

Leave a Comment