If you have ever wanted to sail on San Francisco Bay, the “beer can races” are the venues where you can get a ride. I think this type of Bay Area “regatta” is some of the most fun one can ever have on the Bay. The weather is typically some of the best sailing of the year, and you are not racing for anything but a beer and a BBQ afterwards at one of the Bay Area’s yacht clubs.
The “beer can racing” yachts are privately owned and are in it for the fun and comradery. There are two ways for you to get a “ride” on one of these racing yachts; check out the crew list on various websites – our favorites are Latitude 38 and SFSailing; or stop by one of the yacht clubs an hour before the racing begins and introduce yourself as an able and willing crew member. Two of the yacht clubs that come to mind is the Corinthian Yacht Club and the Berkeley Yacht Club. I promise this works.
You may be thinking, “It can’t be that easy to catch a ride on a yacht who doesn’t even know me.” Well, there are thousands of boats on the Bay without the needed crews for these types of fun sailing regattas. The boat owners are always looking for crew members. I am called weekly by my Bay Area yachting friends asking if I can join them as crew because they are short one or two people.
The summer “beer can race” schedule is published on Sausalito’s Latitude 38 website. Click on the link to find the race nearest you, or for the ones you would prefer to participate in. You don’t even need any sailing experience. If that is the case show up with layers of water proof clothing, a positive attitude and a life vest you will find a boat that will take you out for the race. All of these can be purchased at West Marine if you don’t already have these basics. As a beginner you will only be asked to sit on the high side of the boat during the race as ballast (or, affectionately referred to as a “sandbag”) and enjoy a great view of the Bay.
Once you have discovered the world of sailing on San Francisco Bay, you may get “hooked”. You can put your name permanently on the Latitude 38 online crew list and expand out your sailing options. The next step is to attend the Latitude 38 annual crew party. At their annual crew party you will meet yacht owners and crew members looking for a ride just like you – between 200 and 300 people attend.
On the west coast one of the most fun “races” of the year is the Baja Ha-Ha – a “race” from San Diego to Cabo, Baja with 160 sailboats all leaving the last week in October – 800+ miles. Many of the crews for this annual floating party are selected at the Latitude 38 crew party.
If you do have sailing experience and you want a “ride” as a crew member for any of these fun events a few pieces of advice are appropriate; don’t exaggerate your sailing skills; ask the yacht owner about his/her sailing experience; have fun. The bottom line with any crew opportunity is for you to be comfortable that the captain and the yacht are safe.
Now that you know what to do in order to catch a “ride” sailing on San Francisco Bay, it is time to act. You will find no shortage of yacht owners looking for crew members, and the Bay is one of the most beautiful places to sail in the world. Contact me anytime for more information about sailing, or even real estate. Until next time… Jim Walberg