The San Francisco to San Francisco Ocean Race

Airdate January 8, 2012

Our topic this week is the new San Francisco to San Francisco Ocean Race (SF2SF for short), scheduled to begin in the fall of 2015, and our guests are naval architect Jim Antrim and Cree Partridge, owner of Berkeley Marine Center.

Listen to our conversation right here:

Where did this idea come from?

Jim Antrim says he’d been thinking about it for years. Why do all the great races start from France. Why not start here?

Cree Partridge gives credit to the early voyagers who started out from Europe. Antrim says, “The French are of that mindset anyway. Big adventure.”

What do you have to do to start a new race?

Partridge says, “Start with a couple of people who are crazy enough to do it.”

The minimum boat size will be 60 feet. The board is also saying only East to West, no West to East. (The “either way” option made their weather tracker’s head explode.) And no powerboats.

From the beginning, the race has been seen as a non-stop race, but people who do stop will not be disqualified. “Too many races start out with 20 boats and end up with five or six.”

Partridge is planning to build one or two 60-ft boats, and is looking for sponsors to do that.

In designing the boat, Antrim has picked 60 as the class that he would like to see develop into a one-design that will be the SF2SF boat, no matter who builds it. “For the first time in my life I’m trying to back off instead of pushing the envelope,” he says.

“There’s a certain element to just finishing the race,” says Partidge.

Antrim adds that many of the crews will not be professional, full-time sailers.

He’s also looking at water ballast, fixed keel, built-in bow sprit, and a house with shelter.

The response so far has been good. Maybe 20 people have said they are interested in racing, and that means probably one person will do it.

Partridge notes that a couple of people have talked about sailing shorthanded, but no one has talked about single-handing the race.

Sponsors are starting to come forward, including equipment manufacturers.

While the SF2SF race website has been up for a while, a new website is underway to encourage more local participation for Team San Francisco.

The build is going to be with all the necessary exotic materials but not overboard, says Partridge. “We’ll be infusing and heating and all those things that we’re used to doing,” he says. “It will be a male mold, built on site.”

Antrim creates the design as a 3D Cad file on MultiSurf and AutoDesk inventor, and from that he makes 2D patterns for the mold. He then sends his files to a company in Grass Valley which cuts out all the parts for the mold. “Then I get a call saying, ‘Your boat’s ready,’ and I go put it all in my pick-up truck and bring it back here to set it up.”

When it comes to laminating, the yard essentially makes it’s own kit. “Kitting out to me is more for production boats,” says Partridge.

In short, this project will be nothing out of the ordinary, all though “what we’re doing is far from ordinary.”

Both Antrim and Partridge are planning to take part in the race.

In designing the boat, Antrim is following ISO standards as well as the old Navy S guide. But as far as designing the race, there’s no one to report too, although “all sorts of people” seem to want to look over Partridge’s shoulder.

“I just want to say, I’m going to build a boat to sail around the world, so leave me alone,” says Partridge. “You’ve got to have a well-designed boat, or your just stupid. Otherwise, you’re subscribing to the ‘survival of the fitness theory.” (And likely to win the Darwin Award.)

“We’ve never had any mishaps with the boats that Jim and I have built to date.”

What does the race winner take home as a prize?

“Bragging rights and a great sea story,” says Partridge. “It’s an epic adventure.”

The current record is around 90 days but the current round the world race looks to be pushing that with some “spectacular” sailing. For multihulls, the record is closer to 45 days.

“We were thinking about multihulls to capitalize on the fanfare of the America’s Cup, but then Jim figured out that it would cost us a whole lot more money,” says Partridge.

The race will be open, however. They won’t keep any multihull sailors from participating.

For the spars, they will probably have to outsource the work. “It’s really a matter of time. I wouldn’t mind building them, but we should be building the boat now.”

“And we would like to be sailing a year in advance,” says Antrim. “And of course, we need to get the crew together.”

Partridge hopes that Team San Francisco will be sponsored by local businesses as much as possible.

So what are these guys doing sitting around here? “Oh, that bothers me,” says Partridge. “But we’re moving along and getting support from surprising places, like Boise, Idaho.”

It’s kind of like the Jamaican bobsled team, isn’t it?

“It will be easy,” says Antrim. “All we need to do is go sailing for a few days.”

“That’s right,” says Partridge. “There’s nothing more fun or interesting than long-distance sailing. It’s fabulous.”


SF2SF Ocean Race Board Members

Jim Antrim

Bay Area resident Jim Antrim is a naval architect and expert in composite engineering with over 30 years of experience in the field. Jim founded Antrim Associates in 1979 after apprenticing with leading naval architects Dick Carter, Britton Chance and Gary Mull. He has designed a wide variety of boats and consulted on countless projects. Always keeping an eye toward efficient innovation, Jim’s expertise in composite engineering yields high-performing and weight-effective structures.

Jim’s designs have included racing trimarans, cruising cats, sport boats, Open Class monohulls, various powerboats, and electric boats. His designs holding speed records include sailing multihulls and monohulls, also an electric powered boat and a transatlantic multihull rowboat. Jim’s extensive sailing experience includes eight races to Hawaii, five of them on Antrim designs.

Lee Chesneau

Lee Chesneau is a long-time educator and consultant in marine weather and advanced weather routing techniques. In his roles as a marine weather forecaster for the US Navy, route analyst for a large private commercial weather and ship routing firm, and Senior Marine Meteorologist for NOAA/NWS’s Ocean Prediction Center, Lee has provided detailed marine and oceanographic warnings, analyses and forecasts, and routing advice on a global, synoptic, and micro-scale scope, covering all oceans and seasons.

Before this latest career, Lee served as a naval officer and saw extended tours of sea duty on two aircraft carriers, one (USS Saratoga CV-60) serving as a helmsman in the South China Sea during the Vietnam conflict, the other (USS Guam LPH-9) serving as the ships Meteorological Officer in the waters off the US east coast and the Mediterranean. He has also raced sailboats, and cruised on a brigantine geared for scientific research.

Peter Hogg

Peter Hogg, a Wellington, NZ native, discovered sailing at the age of 30 upon moving to the Bay Area. After crewing for other skippers for a decade, Peter set out to single-hand his own multihulls.

He completed three singlehanded Transpacs aboard his first catamaran, Tainui, before losing the boat in a collision with a whale during a double-handed race off the California coast. Singlehanding the Antrim-designed catamaran Aotea in 1992, Peter broke the San Francisco to Japan record. He set a singlehanded multihull Transpac record in 1994. Peter went on to join Steve Fosset’s team aboard PlayStation for record-breaking races from San Francisco to Tokyo, Newport to Ensenada, and Chicago to Mackinack among others.

“The reason I singlehand is for the challenge, the success or failure that is solely yours. I enjoy the quiet, and the solitude,” states Peter.

Stan Honey

Bay Area resident Stan Honey is a renowned world-class sailor and leading technology innovator. He was navigator on record-setting sails across oceans and around the world, including on the 105-foot trimaran Groupama 3, the 125-foot catamaran Playstation, and the RP75, Pyewacket.

As Navigator, Stan has won class or line honors in The Sydney-Hobart, The Sardinia Maxi Worlds, The Admirals Cup, several SORC’s,  The Bermuda Race, Antigua Race Week, Cork Race Week, The Miami-Montego Bay Race, The St. Maarten Regatta, and The Chicago-Mackinac.

Stan was US Rolex Yachtsman of the year in 2010 and was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2012. He has won three Emmys for technical innovation in sports television (first-down-line for football, K-Zone for baseball, LiveLine for America’s Cup sailing) and holds 29 patents in navigational system design and sports television enhancements.

Since June 2010 Stan has been director of race technology for the America’s Cup Event Authority.

Tim Kent

Tim Kent began sailing at the age of 11, and has logged thousands of miles on oceans and on the Great Lakes. He finished second in class in an Antrim designed Open 50, Everest Horizontal, in the 2002 Around Alone race. The 169-day solo circumnavigation was no small feat for a sailor who hadn’t crossed an ocean until the year before and had done little solo sailing.

He has worked in educational publishing for twenty years. He lives and races on the Great Lakes on a variety of boats, both solo and crewed. Tim was first to finish and first in class in the 330 mile Chicago-to-Mackinac single-handed competition.  “I would love to lead the fleet back into San Francisco at the finish of the first SF2SF,” stated Tim.

Cam Lewis

Cam Lewis holds numerous ocean racing honors, including four World Championships – two Finn Gold Cups and two 505 world titles. He was part of the crew of Stars and Stripes with skipper Dennis Connor, beating New Zealand’s 90 ft. super monohull for the 1988 America’s Cup victory. Cam was the only American aboard Commodore Explorer in 1993, taking the first Jules Verne Trophy for breaking the mythical 80-day ’round-the-world record.

“My mantra in life is to sail fast boats fast, in any waters, as often as possible,” Cam likes to say. “I love being able to push a boat as hard as I can to realize its full potential. If along the way we set some new speed records, so much the better.”

Cree Partridge

Cree Partridge is the owner of BerkeleyMarineCenter, one of the Bay Area’s most popular boat yards, and an avid sailboat racer in his own right. Under Cree’s stewardship, the yard has established itself as the hub of custom yacht construction in Northern California.

The company’s yacht building projects have generated considerable buzz in local sailing circles for contributing to the rebirth of a once prominent local industry. Cree brings decades of experience to his craft of yacht building. With a previous company, he built some two dozen IOR racers in Southern California in the 70′s and early 80′s.

Mark Schrader

Mark Schrader is the first American to solo circumnavigate via the “Five Capes” of the Southern Oceans. He sailed a Valiant 40, Resourceful, in his 1982-83 circumnavigation, and the Valiant 47, Lone Star, in the 1986-87 BOC Challenge, finishing in 175 days. He subsequently became race director of the BOC in 1990-91, 1994-95 and in 1998, when the race was renamed Around Alone.

Intimately aware of the fragility of ocean eco-systems, Mark is a pioneer in promoting awareness of the consequences that dumping of plastics and other waste present to marine life. He has carried that message around the world, and has helped the Center for Environmental Education and other organizations quantify and document the scope of the problem.

Mark was captain and project director of the 2009-10 Around the America’s expedition, a scientific and educational circumnavigation of North and South America, around Cape Horn and through the Northwest Passage, aboard Ocean Watch, a 64-foot steel sloop.

Bruce Schwab

Bruce Schwab is a lifelong marine services professional and two-time solo circumnavigator. After two decades of managing the rigging shop at Svendsen’s Marine in Alameda, California, he “retired” in 2000 to oversee the design and construction of an American-built Open 60, OceanPlanet. Bruce completed his first circumnavigation on OceanPlanet in the 2002/03 Around Alone Race. In 2005, he became the first American in to officially finish the Vendee Globe, and currently holds the American solo circumnavigation record of 109 days and 20 hours.


This entry was posted in Boatyard & Marine Management, Composites, Sail. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The San Francisco to San Francisco Ocean Race

  1. proboatr says:

    QUESTION FOR JIM ANTRIM from Malcolm Morgan (Sausalito, CA):

    How about adding a division that would allow race participants to use their engines with the stipulations that they must only refuel in port, and sails must be used in conjunction with the engine(s) at all times?

    This could lead to some very interesting designs and technology being applied to super-efficient propulsion systems, and sail + engine hybrids.

    If motorsailing entrants want to be competitive with sail – only vessels that do not need to stop for fuel, they will need to carefully balance performance gains from the engine(s) against the extra fuel weight and possible delays from refueling.

    How about it? I think it is long overdue to have attention focused on motor / sailing hybrid designs.


    Picture of Jim Antrim

    That’s an interesting idea, Malcolm. I designed a motor-sailor in 1998 that had a self tending rigid wing. You get plenty of apparent wind from the speed developed with the engine, and the wing then becomes a powerful synergistic assist to save fuel and increase speed. One problem I see from a race administration point of view is distinguishing a motor sailor from a pure motor boat. A Laser rig mounted on Ilan Voyager could meet the “sails used in conjunction” constraint. Peter Hogg wanted a motoring division, an idea which intrigued me too; but others felt we needed to focus on one race at a time. I’ll bring these ideas up at our next steering committee meeting.


    Picture of Malcolm Morgan

    I think the qualifier could be that in order to qualify as a motorsailer, it has to be able to achieve at least 50% or 75% of it’s design hull speed from sail power. You could also require that they be able to point, tack and gybe under sail power alone. This would preclude mounting a small sail on a typical powerboat as a cheater rig.

    But I still think the main qualifier would be the requirement that they only refuel in harbor, no offshore fueling allowed. This would keep it a ‘mostly sail’ event, as most of the boats will be sailing non stop to get there as fast as possible. Boats that rely too heavily on engine power would be uncompetitive because of the need to divert to refuel too often.

Comments are closed.