2019 Master Mariner Regatta Surges with Entries

Jul 3, 2019 | Classic Boats, Editorial, Yachts

As appearing in July 2019 Latitude 38, page 64.

“The 2019 Master Mariner Regatta Benevolent Association (MMBA) event experienced a reassuring surge in participation, following years of concerning decline. Racers saw quintessential San Francisco Bay breezes and early summer afternoon sun,” asserts Cory Lancaster, Vice Commodore and MMBA 2019 regatta chair.

Hosted on San Francisco Bay Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 25, Lancaster states there were half-a-dozen new entrants, notably Mayan, the storied Alden Schooner; Macora, a gaff cutter recently relocated from Los Angeles; two Kettenbergs, and a number of smaller boats.

Also in attendance was nearly every large sailing charter vessel in the bay, plus a full fleet of the locally designed classics, the Birds and the Bears. A new non-competitive parade class was also introduced this year.” The annual event commenced with a traditional flag fluttering boat parade along the western end of the city front.

This Master Mariner Is Grinning While Bearing It

Adhering to a true pursuit race for most classes, the start line between Golden Gate and St. Francis Yacht Clubs saw its gun for the Bear boat division at 12 noon. Russell Katz and family are caretakers of Renegade, number 35 in that boat fleet.

Under his leadership, this 1946 beauty has run the Master Mariner Regatta course since 2011. “Bears are the smallest boat in the regatta at 23-foot LOA, but comprise the largest single class to participate. The past several years we have had between five and nine boats in the race,” he says.

“Things are always close and exciting, with various different boats winning the Gerry O’Grady trophy for the Master Mariner MMBA Bear class.” Most recently, the prize has rotated between Huck Finn, Magic, Chance, Kodiak and Panda. For 2019, recognition goes to Tim Maloney on Magic.

Continues Katz, “Regatta conditions were perfect–just enough wind to move us along nicely, but not so much that you get beat up. We had a good race other than some spinnaker issues during the hoist.

Conditions prevented us from being able to fly it, but we still finished only 10 seconds behind the second place boat–which did fly its spinnaker. Not too bad for a boat that was in the boatyard two days before.” Renegade sailed lean with only skipper and mate; normally the entire Katz clan is onboard. “Since 2011, the kids have been racing with us.

Once the boat was in sailing condition, and Christine and I felt they were old enough to participate, the youngsters hopped onboard.” Wooden boats have always been a passion of Katz, noting that his wife and kids are very supportive.

“They have helped get the boat to where she is today. The kids have done anything from reefing out the seams during her original refit, to crewing, sanding and varnishing.

Marconi Master

In the Master Mariner Marconi 3 division with 15.60 nautical mile course run was IOD vessel Youngster—pitted within a field of four. Jennifer Thornton, all smiles experiencing her first San Francisco Bay classics boat race at the tiller, says, “Sailing is so much fun when you are that close to the water. You really are in the elements!

Luckily water conditions were not too choppy for our mostly reaching day.” Owner of a Schock 35 at Vallejo Yacht Club, she enjoyed the day’s proximity to other boats. “We came in second—a surprise because we did not see Folly all day (first to finish and earning the Homeward Bound perpetual). Versus our competition, we were able to round more closely to the marks, then come out to windward side.

One thing I’ve learned from Ron Young, owner of Youngster, is that the smallest amount of sail trim makes a significant difference on a boat like this—down to one-fourth or event one-eighth of an inch.”

Master Mariner Regatta with Friends

With friendly rivalry, he adds, “In our most recent Master Mariners, the lovely sloop Water Witch was able to outpoint us by at least 10 degrees! On the other hand, we were able to outreach her. We ended up a few minutes apart on handicap; in a more typical windward leeward course she would have been long gone.”