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Three Chairs for Drake’s Bay Race Committee

Or in this case five chairs. Milly Biller sent in these photos of the Drake’s Bay finish line race committee. They waited for the fleet of Yacht Racing Association and Singlehanded Sailing Society sailors to arrive at the end of an excruciatingly slow race from San Francisco Bay.

The shot reminded us that one of the great reasons to sign up for a race is that it commits you to a day of using your boat. Given the beauty of the shot below, it’s also a reminder of the rewards of signing up for race committee. How many people have found themselves sitting in folding chairs by Chimney Rock at the tip of Point Reyes on a beautiful day like this?

Drake's Bay Race Committee at Chimney Rock
While racers struggled in light air to reach Drake’s Bay, the race committee stood watch on the bluff above the finish line.
© 2021 Courtesy Milly Biller

Milly Biller shared the story about their time at the finish line on Point Reyes. “Last weekend the Inverness Yacht Club co-sponsored the Drake’s Bay Regatta with Berkeley Yacht Club. Bobbi Tosse was PRO on the San Francisco Race Committee. I had a fabulous and funny RC team consisting of Skip Shapiro, Skip Allan, Cinde Lou Delmas and Chris Longaker.

“The Wi-Fi and VHF communication ability is sketchy at best out there, so we hiked out to the near end of Chimney Rock trail. We needed ‘line of sight’ both back into Drake’s Bay and the finish line between the old fish dock and the Coast Guard buoy to the northeast, and also southeast so we could get the two-mile check-ins from the incoming boats.”

Chimney Rock Drake's Bay
You can sail or drive and hike to Chimney Rock, but many people don’t get there until they sign up for something.
© 2021 Navionics

“There was very, very little wind. We had (four) finishers out of 54 starters. I put the ‘four’ in parentheses because there is still some question about finishing times, although they called in their own finish times by VHF. Some said that they were confused about where the finish line was — not surprising in the dark, plus anchor lights everywhere.

“It was fun talking to the racers as they entered the bay. Everyone was gracious and thanked us. The cutoff time was 21:59:59. We remained until everyone was accounted for, around 11:30 p.m.

“Sunday morning, we got out there at 9-ish for a 9:40 warning signal, and had good visibility due to a high ceiling. The breeze had picked up. One of my favorite images was seeing a bunch of the racers circling Flashgirl and Commodore Tompkins, who had not entered the race but sailed up to Drake’s Bay anyway. They were chatting with him, and it seemed to me to be a wonderful tribute to such an amazing sailor! The racers had already taken a roll call and gave me a great list with which to cross-check my own list.”

Drake's Bay Race Committee
The Drake’s Bay finish line and Sunday startline committee of (left to right) Cinde Lou Delmas, Chris Longaker, Milly Biller, Skip Shapiro and Skip Allan.
© 2021 Courtesy Milly Biller

“Laura Muñoz of the YRA cannot get enough credit for her constant availability by text. Cinde’s cell phone saved the day after the rest of ours went dead. We had a really great time doing this, and I will volunteer again next year — unless we actually do the race ourselves!”

We want to add our thanks to all the race committees and volunteers who help make racing possible. We appreciate them whether we’re racing, spectating or reporting.

Richard 'Wood' Banthin and skipper Mike Mahoney
We recently got a ride aboard a St. Francis YC crash boat with frequent volunteers Richard ‘Wood’ Banthin and skipper Mike Mahoney for the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race. Great evening.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
San Francisco Yacht Club
A few weeks ago we were out watching the start of the West Marine US Sailing Open on the Berkeley Circle as San Francisco YC volunteers staffed the committee boat and mark-set boats on a blustery Saturday.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Three cheers to Milly for the story and photos, plus her Chimney Rock race committee cohort for helping everyone enjoy their weekend on the water. If you want to get out sailing more, sign up for a race or race committee. Your opportunities will only grow.

We’ll report on the two-day Drake’s Bay Regatta in Racing Sheet in the October issue of Latitude 38.


  1. milly Biller 3 years ago

    Thanks John! It was really fun-considering my esteemed and dear companions, but one comment I would make : Please have a good, working radio aboard and check in in a timely manner. Most of the racers were beyond wonderful, but a few kept us worried longer than necessary.
    BTW, 110 Nationals next week in Hull Mass !

  2. Kirk Denebeim 3 years ago

    Without race committees, there is no racing, and for Drake’s Bay, one needs a particularly dedicated committee. To travel to up to the point of the Drake’s Bay takes effort, put to stay out late into the night…is just incredible and our crew wishes to thank the group sincerely. Now I must reveal- the finish times for Saturday’s crawl north are in dispute. We contend (and we know we are right!) that just 2 boats finished- Mirthmaker beating all boats and finishing 2 minutes shy of the deadline, followed by the multihull Raven, whom we picked off in the final 15 minutes of racing, finishing inside 30 seconds before the deadline. The other alleged finishers, the multihull ‘Round Midnight, mistakenly crossed the wrong finish line (the SIs warned everyone!)- while we watched its error on our laptop screen; Kahoots did not finish by the deadline. It was a grueling trip, but our crew- Robb Daer and Cam Tuttle- battled the entire time (even when they took catnaps they napped on the leeward side of the boat!), and we feel pretty good to be the first boat- and only monohull- to finish the race.

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