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Where Did All Those SailGP Spectators Come From?

The weather broke in the nick of time, and people turned out from all over to see the dominating performance of Team Australia and Tom Slingsby in the San Francisco SailGP Final. We walked the line with copies of the May issue of Latitude 38 before the 1:30 event opening to discover who was watching and where they were from. There were lots of sailors and lots of Latitude 38 readers, but also lots of folks from farther afield. We spoke with people from Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada, Delaware, Wisconsin, New York, Washington, Florida, Texas and more. It was a pretty eclectic crowd. We grabbed some shots of folks with their friends and new Latitudes as they waited for the big show.

San Francisco Science and Sailing
The crew from San Francisco Science Sailing Center, Maggie Garside Heilman, Kevin Hicks, Jim Hancock, and Michael Law, were staffing the Inspire booth for SailGP.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

A sellout crowd filled the grandstands inside the event area, filled the Golden Gate and St. Francis Yacht Clubs, and had sailors lining the wall along Crissy Field to the west. We had a great time talking with spectators and reminding them that they can pick up their Latitudes at their favorite marine businesses along the California coastline. One sailor said, “I read it online. I didn’t know they printed it anymore.” Dang, we know it’s a busy world and it’s hard to keep track of all the reading out there, so we want to remind you digital readers that the relaxing world of print is as close as your friendly harbormaster or chandler’s office.

Jeanneau 49 Perception
Brother and sister Mike and Beth Marangola were up from Southern California. Mike, who learned to sail at Cal Sailing in Berkeley, keeps his Jeanneau 49 Perception in Channel Islands Harbor, but has recently had her in San Diego. He also told us he enjoys our Good Jibes podcasts on the drive down.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Long line to SailGP
We had a great time talking with SailGP fans in the long line to get into the event.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Darsey and Roger Betschart Cheryl Mair
Darsey and Roger Betschart were here from Bermuda to see their daughter Rachael race in the Waszp class and met Cheryl Mair from Australia, who was here to watch her daughter, Seisia, race as well. Results here.
© 2023 John
Latitude 38
There was time to relax and read in the sun while waiting to enter the SailGP venue.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Eric Kalkowski
We met Eric Kaldowski from the Central Valley, who keeps the family Catalina 27, Freedom, in Morro Bay. His 11-year-old son is sailing Optis with MBYC.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Did we draw any conclusions from the stroll along the wall? Sailors are nice people. There were quite a few non-sailors who came as event fans, including one gentleman who said he was in the Navy and asked, “Does that count?” He said, “I remember some ‘sailing’ terms. Port, I think that’s the front of the boat.” Well, all sailors continue to learn, but he may have more to learn than many.

Latitude 38
Though the magazines are free, these guys opted to share one. By the way, the SAilGP fan store seemed to be doing a brisk business in hats!
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Speed, drama, close calls and world-renowned skippers assembled this far-flung crowd of sailors. Many were cruisers, and the youth were often dinghy, skiff and foiling fans. Speed does get attention, but for the sailors in attendance, a comfortable daysail on a Catalina 27 still appeared to be the main attraction for participating. Are non-sailing spectators ever going to find their way to a sailboat, or is this just another channel on the remote?

Sausalito sailor and now St. Francis YC coach and Waszp Inspire videographer Sophie Salvadori-Roam was capturing the action at the media center.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
These two families of Sabot and 420 sailors came up from San Diego. One junior sailor told the story of SailGP crewmember Cooper Dressler shaving his SDYC coach’s head on a bet after Dressler won the Sabot Nationals.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Sailing at 50 knots is not for everyone, but regardless of how you like to sail or even if you don’t sail at all, SailGP remains a dramatic spectacle for the shoreside crowd. Season 4 kicks off in Chicago on the weekend of June 16–17, with hints that a 10th team will join the fray. Following that, SailGP comes right back to California with an event on July 22–23 in Los Angeles. See you there?

1 Comment

  1. Susan 10 months ago

    As a sailor who enjoyed watching – I really wish the Sail GP website had more info on all the action (Inspire sailing schedule, who’s sailing, etc ) and the overall event besides just trying to sell tickets. They spend a lot of $$ and time setting up for 2 days of a Race Village & it seems like there could be a lot more activities / action to enjoy besides the short time frame of the actual Sail GP racing.

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