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Seventeen Solo Sailors Set Out to Sea

On Sunday, June 25, 17 singlehanded sailors pointed their bows out the Golden Gate with their final destination a virtual finish line in Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Kauai. Their crafts, all monohulls, vary wildly from three Westsail 32s to a 1D35. Finishers in the Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race should arrive at the Garden Isle in about 12 to 20 days.

Westsail 32 Hula
Bill Stange’s Washington-based Westsail 32 Hula led the way out the Gate and is still among the leaders a day after the start.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
1D35 Such Fast
Another boat from Washington, David Garman’s 1D35 was pointing high, taking the Golden Gate Bridge just to the north of center span. Garman and Stange are both repeat SHTPers.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Skip Allan gave the weather briefing at the skippers’ meeting on Saturday at Richmond Yacht Club. He correctly predicted the conditions at the start. About 10 knots from the southwest and an ebb current propelled the starters off the line at Golden Gate YC in the 10 a.m. hour. With south in the breeze, port tack was heavily favored for the exit out of San Francisco Bay.

Skippers meeting
“How many are first-timers?” (The folks in the back are family members, friends and veterans of past races.) The answer is 9 out of the 17.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
John Wilkerson on Perplexity
John Wilkerson and his Express 37 Perplexity were among the out-of-towners that RYC hosted in their harbor. John is another sailor from Washington. Note the dodger. It’s the third he’s built for Perplexity. For the 2021 SHTP, he’d built one of plywood. In 2022, he did the Pacific Cup with a fiberglass one, but lost it overboard. He made the new one of carbon fiber.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Up the mast of a Cal 40
Race prep continued after the skippers’ meeting, including a last-afternoon rig climb on the Monterey-based Cal 40 Solstice.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Gwendolyn towed by Another Girl
On the morning of the race, Todd Olsen on the Olson 29 Gwendolyn got a push off the dock from local RYC folks and a tow to the startline from Kim Desenberg, Milly Biller and Skip Allan on the Alerion 38 Another Girl.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The skippers, all men, range in age from 39 to 70. Piyush Arora of San Francisco is the youngest, and Max Crittenden of Borrego Springs the oldest.

Piyush Arora on Horizon
Piyush Arora is sailing in his first SHTP on the Beneteau First 305 Horizon.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Max Crittenden on Iniscaw
Max Crittenden returned to the Bay Area from SoCal for his second SHTP with the Martin 32 Iniscaw, which he keeps in Oceanside.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Circe from the bridge
Another first-timer is Tony Bourque on the RYC-based Freedom 40/40 Circe.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

We’ll head over to Hawaii on July 7 to greet the sailors. Will we beat the two fastest-rated boats, Such Fast and Sean Mulvihill’s J/120 Jamani? The fleet made amazingly quick work of the first 24 hours; they’re sailing on a fast reach today. But the Pacific High is a hot mess right now, spread out and morphing shape like Jell-O. It’s a year to dip south of the rhumb line.

We’ll have a couple more reports here on ‘Lectronic Latitude and a feature in the August issue of Latitude 38. In the meantime, head over to the Singlehanded Sailing Society’s website at www.sfbaysss.org/main/shtp-2023 and check out the tracker on Jibeset. As of this morning, Such Fast was farthest south. Michael Polkabla’s Cal 40 Solstice was farthest west with the shortest distance left to sail. Sistership Green Buffalo is hot on her heels.

We’ll leave you today with a thought from 13-time SHTP sailor Ken “The General” Roper, passed along at the skippers’ meeting from another multiple recidivist, Mike Jefferson: “It’s easy to do a SHTP. Just get in your boat and go.”

6 Comments

  1. Jeff Deuel 8 months ago

    Two weeks ago today, 14 boats departed Monterey for the ‘World’s Toughest Row’, also heading for Hanalei. Their progress is on YB Tracker, and all the teams are south of the rhumb line. Awesome to have all the folks out there at the same time!

  2. Christine Weaver 8 months ago

    Jeff, the rowers were mentioned during the skippers’ meeting for the SHTP, as fellow mariners to watch out for.

  3. Ken brinkley 8 months ago

    Ride captain Ride

  4. milly Biller 8 months ago

    Hey Christine. Many thanks for your help getting Todd and Gwendolyn off the dock and underway at the RYC! It was super fun to have his family aboard to cheer him on. Many thanks to Cinde Lou for her ever generous loan of the beautiful Another Girl for the day of the start. As always, you guys at Latitude are ahead of the curve. Skip Allan reminded me this afternoon that there was no public link to the Race Tracker and that the SSS member who was supposed to be in charge of this is — well — on his way to Hanalei. I was going to ask you to publish a link to the Tracker, and you already did! Many thanks. Please note everyone, that the RC tried to get the competitors to sync their Tracker check-in times. So before you think that so and so is really sending it note the time it was sent and do some math. There is plenty of discrepancy. They are Buglighters — what can I say?

  5. Christine Weaver 8 months ago

    Circe, the last boat pictured in this post, suffered a knock-down with some damage to the boat and bruising to the skipper yesterday. Circe turned around and is back inside San Francisco Bay.

  6. Marcus Nogueira 8 months ago

    The vessel I am onboard crossed paths a few hours ago with Jamani, another unidentied boat and Solstice. Pretty cool.

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