4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Like watching paint dry

The patient freesailers

He yelled “skippers ready” and blew a whistle.
He yelled “skippers ready” and blew a whistle.

La Jollan Ernie Mortensen has been free sailing 36-inch yachts for 18 years.

Video:

Freesailing race at Mission Bay

Oct. 21, 2018

Oct. 21, 2018

On October 20-21, Mortensen was the only San Diegan of eight skippers to compete in the National Freesail Regatta, held at the Model Yacht Pond in Mission Bay. The 900-foot pond is off West Vacation Road and Ingraham Street.

“I happened to be [supposedly] the first guy in San Diego doing this,” Mortensen said, “so I called my boat SD1.”

“If your boat goes to shore you can adjust the vane or you could adjust the sails — but most likely not the sails.”

Two competitors came in from Texas; one from Colorado; one from the Bay Area and another from Orange County. They raced in match style competition where only two boats were raced against one another.

Race director Kim Robbins began each race by staging the skippers by the two orange cones sitting in shallow waters on either the west or east side of the pond. He then yelled “skippers ready” and blew a whistle to prompt each skipper to send their miniatures sailing.

“Then we follow the boats up along the shoreline (west-to-east or east-to-west),” Mortensen said, “if the boat goes into the shore, somebody’s got to turn it around because there’s no remote control.”

Each skipper follows the boat with a turning-pole (PVC wrapped with a soft pad at the end); they had a mate on the opposite side of the pond following in case a wind sent the boat astray into the other side (about 300 feet across).

“The pads are to protect the finish of the boat or the strings holding up the sails,” said Zaine Fisher. She and her father trekked in from Houston, Texas. “Mine just went straight and it’s kinda hard to do that — you just have to set your boat right,” she said.

“If your boat goes to shore you can adjust the vane or you could adjust the sails — but most likely not the sails,” said Mike S. from Santa Cruz. “We had a wind shift right there: it had been southwesterly then it just turned westerly and I had to adjust the angle of the vane to keep it from coming ashore.”

Mike’s boat veered into shore at about midpoint, then he adjusted the vane, the mechanism on the rear of the boat that’s attached to the rudder. The adjustment of the vane helps the skipper steer his/her vessel without adjusting the sails. The vane was used in the hobby/sport prior to the implementation of radio control technology in the 1970s. (The radio style is more popular.)

It took about five minutes and 45 seconds for Mike’s mahogany boat to travel the full 900 feet (eastbound)

“It’s sorta like watching paint dry,” he said. “It’s definitely a relaxing sport.”

Mike lost the “run” which is when the boats travel with the wind; his opponent garnered two points. When the boats travel against the wind it’s called a “beat,” which garners the winner three points.

At the end of the races, the points are tallied up and the highest score wins the race. For this annual regatta, the skippers raced 13 times.

“The trouble is that there’s only two real boat ponds like this in the U.S.,” Fisher said, “there used to be many boat ponds, but then they added fountains in the middle, and you can’t have these races if there’s a fountain.” The other popular free sailing venue is The Spreckels Lake Model Yacht Facility in San Francisco where they have about 25 active free sailers.

Mortensen is seeking other San Diegans that might want to free sail with him. He said there is no fee and in order to compete, the prospective skipper must have access to, build or purchase a boat within the parameters of their 36R class rating rules.

“Your boat is legal in the (36R) restricted class if you stick the haul with the keel and the rudder in a box that measures: 37” x 11” x 9”,” he said. “You can have as much sail on it as you want the boat can look whatever it wants to look like.”

Next year we’ll have six to seven guys come in from the U.K. where free sailing originated, and we’ll have an American team which will be most of these guys and gals present — and it will be an international regatta.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Carl DeMaio pursues Todd Gloria for sex offender bill

Next Article

San Diego Reader's Best Of issue

Best place for locals, best day drinking park, local seafood, the Athenaeum, before the Casbah re-opens, Pocket Beach, Horsethief Canyon, a bonsai best, San Diego buses
He yelled “skippers ready” and blew a whistle.
He yelled “skippers ready” and blew a whistle.

La Jollan Ernie Mortensen has been free sailing 36-inch yachts for 18 years.

Video:

Freesailing race at Mission Bay

Oct. 21, 2018

Oct. 21, 2018

On October 20-21, Mortensen was the only San Diegan of eight skippers to compete in the National Freesail Regatta, held at the Model Yacht Pond in Mission Bay. The 900-foot pond is off West Vacation Road and Ingraham Street.

“I happened to be [supposedly] the first guy in San Diego doing this,” Mortensen said, “so I called my boat SD1.”

“If your boat goes to shore you can adjust the vane or you could adjust the sails — but most likely not the sails.”

Two competitors came in from Texas; one from Colorado; one from the Bay Area and another from Orange County. They raced in match style competition where only two boats were raced against one another.

Race director Kim Robbins began each race by staging the skippers by the two orange cones sitting in shallow waters on either the west or east side of the pond. He then yelled “skippers ready” and blew a whistle to prompt each skipper to send their miniatures sailing.

“Then we follow the boats up along the shoreline (west-to-east or east-to-west),” Mortensen said, “if the boat goes into the shore, somebody’s got to turn it around because there’s no remote control.”

Each skipper follows the boat with a turning-pole (PVC wrapped with a soft pad at the end); they had a mate on the opposite side of the pond following in case a wind sent the boat astray into the other side (about 300 feet across).

“The pads are to protect the finish of the boat or the strings holding up the sails,” said Zaine Fisher. She and her father trekked in from Houston, Texas. “Mine just went straight and it’s kinda hard to do that — you just have to set your boat right,” she said.

“If your boat goes to shore you can adjust the vane or you could adjust the sails — but most likely not the sails,” said Mike S. from Santa Cruz. “We had a wind shift right there: it had been southwesterly then it just turned westerly and I had to adjust the angle of the vane to keep it from coming ashore.”

Mike’s boat veered into shore at about midpoint, then he adjusted the vane, the mechanism on the rear of the boat that’s attached to the rudder. The adjustment of the vane helps the skipper steer his/her vessel without adjusting the sails. The vane was used in the hobby/sport prior to the implementation of radio control technology in the 1970s. (The radio style is more popular.)

It took about five minutes and 45 seconds for Mike’s mahogany boat to travel the full 900 feet (eastbound)

“It’s sorta like watching paint dry,” he said. “It’s definitely a relaxing sport.”

Mike lost the “run” which is when the boats travel with the wind; his opponent garnered two points. When the boats travel against the wind it’s called a “beat,” which garners the winner three points.

At the end of the races, the points are tallied up and the highest score wins the race. For this annual regatta, the skippers raced 13 times.

“The trouble is that there’s only two real boat ponds like this in the U.S.,” Fisher said, “there used to be many boat ponds, but then they added fountains in the middle, and you can’t have these races if there’s a fountain.” The other popular free sailing venue is The Spreckels Lake Model Yacht Facility in San Francisco where they have about 25 active free sailers.

Mortensen is seeking other San Diegans that might want to free sail with him. He said there is no fee and in order to compete, the prospective skipper must have access to, build or purchase a boat within the parameters of their 36R class rating rules.

“Your boat is legal in the (36R) restricted class if you stick the haul with the keel and the rudder in a box that measures: 37” x 11” x 9”,” he said. “You can have as much sail on it as you want the boat can look whatever it wants to look like.”

Next year we’ll have six to seven guys come in from the U.K. where free sailing originated, and we’ll have an American team which will be most of these guys and gals present — and it will be an international regatta.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Strings dominate at Oct. 20 Mainly Mozart

Prokofiev, Mozart, Beethoven at Del Mar Fairgrounds
Next Article

Spanish hacienda at the southern edge of La Jolla

This Bird Rock estate features “an exceedingly rare oceanfront pool overlooking the surf.”
Comments
1

The Detroit Belle Isle Model Yacht Basin still exists. Built in 1929 for the Detroit Public Schools Vocational Ed program where hundreds of kids built and raced their sailboats every June. These were built to the AJ Fisher design of Class C 36", Class B 30", or Class A 24" OAL. The program ran until 2004. The wooden surround boardwalk deteriorated many years ago, but shore edge reinforcements have stabilized the banks. It has not been well maintained or used, since before the program ended in 2004. It is adjacent to the Dossin Maritime Museum, also on this public park island, between Detroit and Windsor Ontario Canada.

None

March 23, 2020

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close