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When It Breaks, You Fix It

It goes without saying that risks to life and limb — as well as to boats — are inherent in yacht racing. That fact was clearly illustrated last Saturday during the annual Master Mariners Regatta, when the 82-ft stays’l schooner Seaward and the Lapworth 36 Papoose collided during the third leg of the race.

Seaward‘s bobstay reportedly struck the windward rail of Papoose‘s aft quarter and the schooner’s bowsprit hooked the Lapworth’s backstay, pulling its mast down and snapping Seaward‘s bowsprit. It was a miracle that no one got seriously injured — or worse.

Although the two boats were sailing in roughly the same direction, Papoose was sailing a higher angle. Skipper Allen Edwards assures us that he was not trying to cross in front of the big schooner, but was on an unaltering course to Blackaller buoy. Tragically, it was only seconds before impact when his crew saw the big schooner approaching.

Ouch! Seaward lost her sprit during Saturday’s race, but a replacement was quickly fashioned at the Matthew Turner build site.  

© Liza Dean

Of all the boats in this vintage fleet, Seaward is probably the last one you’d want to collide with, as her steel hull would surely be unforgiving. Thankfully, though, her wooden sprit took the brunt of the impact — one of the ‘softer’ parts of her structure and rigging.

As frequent crewman Woody Skoriak explains, once back at the dock skipper Alan Olson wasted no time in facilitating repairs. He took it straight to the build site of the 100-ft brigantine Matthew Turner (Olson’s brainchild), where several construction volunteers were just about to close up shop for the day. "But they looked at the damaged remains, picked up some wood, cut and shaped it, and by 7 p.m. Saturday they had a new bowsprit glued up." By the time you read this it should be finished. 

We don’t know the status of Papoose‘s splintered mast, but we assume skipper  Edwards will repair or replace it as soon as possible, as his classic woodie is one of a small fleet of L-36s that are highly prized on San Francisco Bay. We wish him the best of luck, and hope to see both boats out sailing the Bay again very soon.

Look for our complete recap of MMR in the July issue of Latitude 38 magazine. 

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