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2022 Jack to Jack race is one for the record books

Sideways sail-soaked strategy deployed in race of tiny yachts at the Jack London Saloon
2022 Jack to Jack race is one for the record books
Some of the over 20 co-owners of “Spirit of the Locals” celebrated their second place finish with Commodore Ana Dominguez, Emcee Squire Fridell and other yachties at the 2022 Jack to Jack yacht race at the Jack London Saloon. The event is a fundraiser benefiting local nonprofits put on by the Jack London Yacht Club.Photo by Melissa Dowling

By Paul Goguen with additional reporting by Melissa Dowling and Patti Buttitta

Ten hours before the big race, I was retrieving the “Melissa & Paul,” the number 16 yacht bound for the Jack to Jack race, from a high shelf above the front door of our house when it slipped from my grip and fell, smashing slo-mo to the floor, fracturing the protrusion on the front of the boat that sailing folks have a name for [ Editor’s note: It’s called the bowsprit].

Back in the day, I personally manufactured all the masts for the original Jack to Jack boats based on a couple of metal reproductions of the mast on Jack London’s Snark, which were provided to me by the mind behind the Jack London Yacht Club, Commodore Jim Burch. After making the necessary repairs and sitting in my office watching the paint dry on the part I’d just replaced, we were ready to set sail in this race of 18” replicas of the Snark.

Boats with keels tend to function better in water deep enough to allow for vertical passage. Wind and current can also be helpful in sailing. But none of those conditions were in play on race day. The weather was perfect, though the water on Sonoma Creek was shallow. Several heats in the second staging of the Jack to Jack race involved creek stewards shepherding boats through the shallow, fast-moving water until they reached deeper, slow-moving water, where kayakers were employed to cajole the entries toward the finish line under the bridge. Howard Cosell might have called it the slowest 15 minutes in racing, but it was both fun and hilarious.

This nautical competition, put on by the Jack London Yacht Club, was all about raising money for the community, friendly competitions in Sonoma Creek, and day drinking. Emcees for the event, Squire Fridell and Tommy Smothers, kicked off the festivities on Saturday, March 26.

Ann Lucena sang the national anthem beautifully, and a P51 World War II-era plane navigated a ceremonial flyover. The race day consisted of five heats, with 12 boats in each heat. The “Melissa and Paul” boat (#16) competed in Heat 2 and did not finish well, but survived. The last-minute repairs held, and the mighty vessel is ready to compete next year. Not every boat was so lucky. Several were damaged and will have to be transported to dry dock during the off-season.

The first boat to float across the finish line in each heat competed in a final race. “Spirit of the Locals”, the crowd favorite, was granted a bye in the preliminary races and was entered straight into the finals. It is co-owned by members of the community who paid $20 to have their names added to the ownership papers, which are managed by the bartenders at the Jack London Saloon.

“Spirit of the Locals” placed second in the finals, following the speedy first-place finisher, “Four Paws for Wines,” owned by Chris and Renee Gallagher, Brent and Teri Tucker, Gary Sloan and Barbara Komas, Barry and Cindy Tedmus, and Barry and Cindy Toby. “Viansa,” owned by Chris Sebastiani, placed third.