Crew You Regatta is not for Turkeys

owner is shunned from touching the tiller—the crew must drive

Five years ago Jasper Van Vliet, a sailing instructor at that time, was lamenting the lack of opportunities for non-boat-owning enthusiasts to drive during a race. So he invented a regatta. Then he turned to his favorite San Francisco fleet—J/24, number 17. What he and peers developed is the Crew You Regatta sponsored by OPB-YC (Other Peoples’ Boats Yacht Club), and this group just staged the fifth annual regatta on Sunday, November 19. It’s a simple frills parade of fun for sailboats of length 24 feet and less. The owner is shunned from touching the tiller—the crew must drive. Courses are short windward-leeward loops, and there’s a beer duck placed mid-course; come within proximity and try to grab a longneck from the net. A beer in the hand is worth, well, subtract one point from your day’s total.

“The premise is to permit more sailors the opportunity to helm during race conditions,” says Van Vliet. “This year we were able to run several back-to-back starts. And I hear that the beer duck was next to empty. Either that equates to an extra degree of navigation and boat handling skills from our ranks, or a higher level of exertion and thirst on the course.” This year, courtesy light winds and flat water, the fleet was scored for five official starts. Additional races were run late in the day when two RYC junior sailor J/22 crews, returning from the day’s match racing along the city front, joined.

Coming out on top with 2017 accolades was Downtown Uproar owned by the Melissa Litwicki/Darren Cumming combo. In second was Valentin Lulevich’s Shut Up and Drive, Randall Rasicot’s Flight took third, Jasper and Robin Van Vliet’s Evil Octopus nabbed fourth and Brandon Whitney’s Backwards claimed fifth. Race conditions in November can be a mixed bag. Last year, officials called a shortened course in order to complete the first and only race of the day. Quite the contrary in 2015 with its non-stop tip and clench, dip and drench. Once conditions hovered near 25-knots, race execs deemed it best to wrap for the day.