Santa Cruz One Design Santana 22 Win

Howdy Popabob.

I thought I’d share my recent race here in Santa Cruz.

This Autumn, I left the team I have been racing with this last year and volunteered to work with the regatta organizers, helping them with timing, signaling and recording. A few weeks ago I got connected with a Schock Santana 22 and have been taking Kira and other new sailors out on it to causally sail on Friday evenings as we enjoy the sunset and look out for whales.

This last weekend, the owner let me know he wasn’t able to race his boat, but that I could race if was interested. The Santana 22 fleet is not as large as the fleet I was sailing in with the Santa Cruz 27, but is constant and has some very seasoned and competitive boats.  So Saturday I put it in the water and rigged it up. This was my first time at the helm for a regatta and the first time sailing with my last minute crew (fortunately he’s a 20-something year veteran of the class, so he knew plainly well, what he was doing)

Our first race we were still working out the kinks of sailing together and placed third only a few seconds after the leader, but after a short pre-start pow-wow and a better idea of the wind and competition, we came across the line the second time with aptitude. We led the pack around the course for a comfortable first place finish. My official first keel-boat sailing career first place finish at the helm. Huzzah!

More About The Race @

Airborne Over The America’s Cup

Howdy Poppabob,

Working with the America’s Cup has been quite an interesting adventure this month and I imagine it is only going to get more intimate as August and September see more boats, teams, and racing.

Today, I arrived a bit early to my shift at the America’s Cup Pavilion where I have spent all my volunteer hours thus far. Typically, upon arrival, I’m directed to support a camera crew for the day, carrying their equipment, or I complete basic operational tasks like ‘picking up more milk’ or ‘running a thing-a-ma-jig to some place across the way.’ However, this morning was a bit, unique… likely because of some genetic skill set.

After arriving and being assigned to a camera crew, I was frantically reassigned to a new group and the very important task of caravan-ing a brand new Lexus hybrid to the airport. Once in Oakland, I kibitz with the ‘blokes’ I had been following and, after the fuel truck departed, I asked what task they’d like me to help with. In reply they said “enjoy the ride.” and I got aboard a Eurocopter AS355 along with the pilot (which is good) and camera operator.

Being my first time aboard a roto-wing, I was pleased to see the preflight inspection was inclusive of the rotors, associated tie-rods, and engine compartment. Though I couldn’t be sure of the inspection quality, I felt safe.

The helicopter was outfitted with a slick camera on a gimbal that extended off the nose and was controlled by the operator in the back seat, as well as location technologies that provide the foundation for some pretty fancy live graphics to be displayed on the screen (similar to the yellow line in football). The feed also appeared in the cockpit for both the operator and the pilot so he could adapt his maneuvers for appropriate camera views. While not all that fancy in many respects, I was impressed.

Departing from Oakland International Airport, we flew along Eastern edge of Alameda Island to the north side of the Eastern span of the Bay Bridge, giving an excellent perspective of progress on the new span that will perhaps be ready by September. We then flew over Treasure Island and sky parked in front of Pier 29 in San Francisco, the headquarters for the Americas Cup operations. After some deliberation, we floated to the race course and began collecting b-roll.

When we arrived there were two Oracle AC45s that were on the water practicing for the RedBull Cup along with about a dozen support boats, swirling around the teams. We took turns with another helicopter, who had a photographer onboard, sitting high above the course and then dropping to no more than 250′ off the water to follow the boats. After these few flybys and a buzz past the Golden Gate, we saw the Italian Luna Rossa AC72 had arrived on the course. While the AC72 is only 28 feet longer, the magnitude of the larger yacht is enormous. It’s massive fixed wing and foiling pontoons are striking from the air and a thrill to watch. With an official racer on the course now, it seemed that racing was going to begin shortly. I enjoyed a few more fly-bys of the boat and then the pilot headed us back to Oakland so they could unload the extra weight, this guy, before the racing started and they needed more mobility.

The drive back to SF was, needless to say, full of grins.

[ VIDEO] Luna Rosa’s AC72 Sailing on SF Bay – 07/16/13


Laser Nationals

Howdy PoppaBob,
Saturday was my third day (of four) working with the regatta committee of the 2013 Laser National Sailing Championship, hosted by chance, here in Santa Cruz this year.
As you may know and remember, lasers are a cat rigged dinghy, measuring almost 14′, sailed by youths and Olympians alike, and remembered fondly as a boat that is quite impossible to keep upright for a Mizell. The regatta has more than 100 entrants, split into full a full rig fleet (~36 racers) and two radial rig fleets (a smaller sail for women and scrawny men).
The races started Thursday and of the dozen already run, several have been held in bay winds reaching almost 30 knots. That particular race included 25 retired boats, two demasted rigs and plenty of capsizes and exhausted sailors.
I serve as the diligent on water radio log man and note taker. After three days I’ve finally found my groove and have learned my job consists less of oogling the boats and more of listening and frantic legible writing. Today I learned that my notes are the linchpin of race management success, of the “if its not documented, it never happened” mantra. And several disputes have come down to my notes and interpretation thereof. It’s quite the weight, but easy enough.
I’ll settle atop the club signal boat for the final races tomorrow and look forward to perfecting my note taking strategies before the event concludes; after which I’ll be headed up to San Francisco to begin helping the Americas Cup television crew.
The summer of sailing is well along up here!

Santa Cruz 27 Nationals

Howdy Poppabob,

Last weekend I raced with my sailing team on a Santa Cruz 27′ call ‘Hanalei.’ I’ve been sailing and racing with the owner since the end of last summer and they’ve been very welcoming and encouraging. Because I had sailed with my dad since long ago and have been chartering my own boats for the last few years, I came onto the team a little more confident that I should have been. Since the sailing I’ve done had, for the most part, been causal cruising, I had no experience with the nuance of racing keel boats, outside the calming and “soft-spoken” nature of the sport. But the skipper brought me onboard anyway and showed great patience as he taught me how to run the foredeck.

2013 Nationals SC27 FleetThe regatta was three days long with seven different races and 17 boats in our class. Our crew was some what unique in that we sailed together throughout all the regattas during the year as a team, whereas many of the boats had just put together crews for the regatta and were, initially, a little less ‘coordinated.’ So some could say, we had an advantage.

Throughout the regatta we danced around the top end of the fleet, exchanging places with the other competitive boats and falling victim to our own mistakes and the boat. In the first race of the series, on the final upwind leg we were happily sailing ahead of the fleet when our whole boat experienced a sharp crack and the jib slipped down the forestay by a foot. The boat slowed and flattened and we fell off the mark. Looking back I saw the weathered halyard had snapped at the jam-cleat and scrambled to action. We immediately dropped the jib, untied the remaining half-halyard, attached the spinnaker halyard and hoisted again. The transition was reminiscent of a Mizell-boy snow-chain exercise, but even with speed and precision, we’d lost our comfortable lead and two competitors slipped in front of us.  We rounded the weather mark and then, instead of hoisting the spinnaker and dropping the jib (so to maintain some forward thrust), we had to drop out jib and sail ‘dead-headed’ as I quickly rigged the spinnaker to the loose halyard.

Fortunately, this was our last downwind leg of the race, however there was one caveat: after the lee-mark, we had to reach, about 150 yards to the finish line. The short distance was prohibitive to dowsing the spinnaker and hoisting a jib with only one halyard. By the time the boat would be powered up, we would have been across the finish line, but we couldn’t survive if we simply dropped the spinaker, so we decided to attempt a reach with the spinnaker up, a maneuver that could over power the boat and knock us down.

As we surfed the downwind leg we made up one position and now were quickly moving on first place, a boat length ahead. Arriving at the lee-mark, we rounded to the inside of first place and, according to plan, dropped our spinnaker pole low and tight onto the pulpet and headstay and tightened hard on the sheet. The spinnaker flattened out as best it could and powered the boat up. However, it was no match to the crisp flat foresail of first place and they summarily pulled away. With second place rounding just seconds behind us, we were tense. As the final meters of the race passed our bow, two finishing whistle blasts were heard in sequence, Tweet… … … …Tweet.

2013 SC27 Nationals 6

We then pointed the boat toward the harbor and began to discuss the possible opportunities to fix the boat before we forfeited too many races. About halfway in, our tactician proposed attaching a block to our main halyard and running an new line through it (since we couldn’t run a new line through the mast with the equipment we had on board). Crazy enough, we agreed it would certainly work and we dropped our main, attached the block, ran the halyard, and hoisted our sails. Testing the new jib halyard, it sailed flat and fast. We were back in business, and in time for the next race. We ended the day with another third and a seventh in a short race that taxed our mental capacity for the day.  The second day we finished with a first and a fifth. The first was an exceptional win because it was the long distance course, a race within the race called the Dave Diola Cup. This win was especially meaningful to our boat as Dave was once the tactician for our boat and now his son Pat was sailing in his place. We celebrated heartily. With a third and a second on the third day [Results] and one ‘throw out’ race, we were able to secure Second place overall and more importantly, we took First in the Owner Driver class.

2013 Hanalei Nationals Downwind Video

It’s tough to beat the views from the winning pointy end of a boat on a race course filled with more than 50 spinnakers (from multiple classes) behind you. Aside from poorly tempered rum intake throughout the three day race, it was a great regatta and meaningful event! Sailing may never feel the same again, it’s going to just get better.