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Winter Solstice Starts the Countdown to Summer Sailing

All earthlings are about to complete another collective circumnavigation of the sun on the good ship Earth. The festivities start tomorrow when you can dance like a druid, party like a pagan, or celebrate like a sailor to mark the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The sun will be about directly overhead for cruisers now on the Tropic of Capricorn at about 23° south, and, starting the next day, the sun will start its journey north toward the equator and the Tropic of Cancer. What are you going to do with the shortest day of the year?

Hood River
Though the days are shorter, this shot from Hood River, Oregon, reminds us why we’re grateful for California’s 12-month sailing season.
© 2023 Eric Sanford

Brushing today’s rain aside, every day going forward will have a bit more daylight for sailing. Our current, longer nights create a perfect time to plan the sailing year ahead. It’s never too early to start planning for the 30th annual Baja Ha-Ha, which will depart from San Diego on November 4. Closer to home and closer on our calendar (coming out on Dec 29) is Summer Sailstice weekend on June 22, the longest daylight weekend of the year.

Pacific Northwest Jeanneau Rendezvous
Sailors Tasha, Catherine and François celebrating at the 2023 Pacific Northwest Jeanneau Summer Sailstice Rendezvous.
© 2023 Marine Servicenter

On the Sailstice weekend, you could join the YRA’s Westpoint Regatta racing from the Bay to Westpoint Marina in Redwood City, or any one of over a dozen other races being held that weekend in Northern California. Farther afield, you could attend the new San Diego Boat Show or attend SailGP, which will be racing in New York City.

Big splash, little Optis
Six months from now Bay Area youth will be racing hard on the Cityfront in the StFYC Opti Heavy Weather regatta.
© 2023 Chris Ray

June is known to be blustery on the Bay, which is why kids who want to rip it up on the Central Bay take their 8-ft prams onto the Cityfront race course for the StFYC Opti Heavy Weather Regatta. Bigger, more seaworthy boats often flee to calmer corners of the Bay.

Summer Sailstice map before and after
It’s early, but not too early to put your 2024 Summer Sailstice plans on the map. By June next year it will looking like the 2023 map on the right.
© 2023 Summer Sailstice

In San Francisco, the sun will rise at about 7:21 a.m. and set at about 4:54 p.m. tomorrow, and, from there on out, the days will get longer. On the summer solstice on June 21 the sun will rise at about 5:48 a.m. and set about 8:35 p.m. Between now and then you can join a pagan ritual, or sail in one of the many midwinter regattas ahead. Starting tomorrow the days are getting longer, everything will be looking brighter, and, shortly, Earth’s whole crew will begin another circumnavigation of the sun.

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