Great SF Schooner Regatta & Belvedere Classic

Member of Freda scan the horizon

Writing and photos by Martha Blanchfield / Renegade Sailing. As originally appearing in Latitude 38

Marking the second in a three-part regatta series for classic yachts is the Great San Francisco Schooner Regatta and Belvedere Classic, July 15, hosted by San Francisco Yacht Club.

This event features two classes. The classic yacht non-schooner division attracted a total of 16 entrants. In the schooner division, four boats entered with each crossing the startline individually based on ratings: first being Goldstar, followed by Brigadoon, Gloriana, then Jakatan.

Vessels followed a tour of the bay course which mapped an 800-foot startline west of Angel Island, a first mark east of Yellow Bluff/Hank Easom, sail to Little Harding Rock southwest of Angel Island, to Blossom Rock, then a Knox finish in same vicinity as the startline.

Father-daughter team Terry and Lindsey Klaus took a first in the schooner class. Brigadoon,
a 50-foot classic, has sailed all but one year of this regatta; the one time she was unable to compete she still graced the race docks with a visit. Brigadoon is the first design of L. Francis Herreshoff, son of Nat Herreshoff, and at age 99 she still looks as wonderful as the day launched. Earning a second place was Jakatan, with Jeff Hawkins at the helm. Having done every one of this race, it is easy to observe “Jakatan” engraved on the trophy in several spots.

Steady winds and smoother waters kept racers in good forward motion. For the classic yacht non-schooner division, Jock MacLean revealed that Oriole (Bird boat) had a late start by one minute, but found a great line to Sausalito. “She sailed away at 12, held her own going to Blossom Rock, then kicked-in to Alcatraz.” This skipper tacked under the other boats, running the bird closer than most aside guano island.

“She can perform like a bat outta hell upwind.” In 2022, Bill Claussen on Bird boat Cuckoo had the ride of his life fighting to earn a first. This year he sailed to a second. Special recognition was given that day to Freda, one of the West Coast’s oldest ladies on the water. She was built in Belvedere, 1885.

Editor’s Note

A youngest to sail that day was James Conrad Borger III, grandson of Jim Borger who owns the Lapworth-designed Dasher 32 Neja. Joining for his first-ever race, Conrad proved indispensable during prep with a twice hoist up the mast to check anemometer. He assisted “putting stuff into the sides so they would not slide out.” Conrad did a brief pre-race stint sitting on foredeck, but unabashedly stated that most time was spent below playing video games and mastering a technique to stand middle of cabin without touching anything as the boat heeled. “I just go with the flow. There were times with a lot of noise up top, so I would just ask what was going on.” After each tack, family yelled down and received a response, “Now we’re leaning the other way.” Neja came in fifth for non-spinnaker class.

While SF Bay inland temps hit beyond the 100-degree mark, folks on the water reveled in cooling winds and intermittent douses. On the calendar since 2008, this regatta was initially limited to schooners and used to attract 16 to 18. However, the number of local schooners has been dwindling says race chair John Swain of SFYC, so in 2019 registration was expanded to include non-schooners. “We are pleased to see the event grow. 2023 brought a great turnout of vessels in varying makes, from Bird boats to Knarrs, three Farallone Clippers and various other classics.”

The Great San Francisco Schooner and Belvedere Classic Race is one in a series that includes the Master Mariners regatta in May and October Jessica Cup. The trifecta was established by SFYC, StFYC and MMBA. Yachts of traditional design, built in wood or steel or glass reinforced plastic designed more than 50 years ago, may be entered. For boats with two or more masts, the foremast must be equal to or smaller than mainmast.

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