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Wild Wet Wednesday in Santa Cruz

Niels and Jack
Niels trims the (reefed) main and his son Jack, 17, drives the Wilderness 40 Geronimo, with the rabbit start of the Santa Cruz Wednesday night race happening in the background. Many thanks to the Kislings: Geronimo served as photoboat for the evening, so didn’t participate in the start.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The Wednesday night beer can race in Santa Cruz this week coincided with a windy-gusty-puffy weather pattern and wild conditions on the ocean. From a vantage point high above the water, the whitecaps looked gnarly out on Monterey Bay. Close to shore on the actual racecourse, the water was a little tamer. But conditions prompted some crews to reef; others stuck with white sails, and one even had to retrieve a person overboard. The MOB hung onto a sheet and quickly climbed back aboard; we’ve been sworn to secrecy as to the identity of the boat.

Not coincidentally — conditions were rough on San Francisco Bay too — in Richmond Yacht Club’s Wednesday Night Beer Can someone fell off a Moore 24 and was picked up by a bigger boat. The forecast for the South Bay troubled Sequoia YC so much that they moved their Sunset Race indoors. “With winds predicted gusting over 35 knots, the decision has been taken to cancel today’s beer can,” wrote Hans Spanjaart. Hans suggested the clubhouse’s fireplace as a rounding mark — to be taken in either direction!

Elyxir with colorful spinnaker
The crew aboard the Ely family’s Santa Cruz 52 Elyxir pulls down the jib after rounding the weather mark. The SC27 Rio takes her transom.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The Santa Cruz race is super-casual. The Sydney 38 Animal serves as the rabbit boat for a DIY start. There’s no scoreboard, no entry form, no sailing instructions, and no organizing authority.

Christian grinds the jib
Christian Kisling, age 20, grinds in the jib on Geronimo.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Kasatka skies pole
In the gusty, lusty breeze, the SC27 Kasatka skies the pole, but the crew got the kite back under control quickly.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Buona Sera
Buona Sera, the biggest and fastest boat on the course, skirts the kelp line on the way back from the leeward mark.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Although they don’t run the race, Santa Cruz YC does host a post-race BBQ. (Santa Cruz County is in the orange tier for COVID rules.)

Jaimie, Chris, Nathan and Ros
Jaimie, Chris, Nathan and Ros were among Buona Sera’s large crew. Nathan and Ros de Vries were visiting from Alameda. Nathan is the rear commodore at Island YC, and Ros is a contributor to Latitude 38.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Grace and Monique
A former Latitude staffer, Monique Selvester (right), also from Alameda, was visiting her Santa Cruz friend Grace, who’d never been sailing before. They crewed on Kasatka. We introduced Ros and Monique — and they’re already planning to race together next Wednesday on the Estuary in Oakland YC’s Sweet 16 aboard the SC27 Medusa!
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Santa Cruz also has a newer Tuesday night race for cruisier boats, sailing with main and jib only. Both run weekly through Daylight Saving Time. For more about Tuesday night races, you can read Barry Keeler’s blog, Sailing Pair-a-Dice. Geronimo, sporting their #1, won this week’s race.


  1. Vance Landis-Carey 2 months ago

    Great article! That was such an exciting and fun evening on the water. Also, Santa Cruz county moved into yellow tier on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. We’ve been waiting patiently and are thrilled we finally made it.

  2. Mike Lew Lamar 2 months ago

    I was out there on Animal. It was windy, which made for a good fun workout.

    • Liz Kroft 2 months ago

      Just heard I missed a pretty good roundup! Would have been better than watching the Warriors lose that night 😂

  3. Barry Keeler 2 months ago

    The blog for Tuesday Night Sailing can be found at

    • Grace 2 months ago

      thanks for the link Barry. Can you suggest a realistic way to get a ride on Tuesdays. Happy and qualified to crew and be part of a fun mindful easygoing team.

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Helping on the Water
Meanwhile, Ed arrived on the scene and proceeded to take a line from the 'Naiomi' and conducted a tow to keep them from drifting closer to the beach.