Welcome to Fleet 12 – the Etchells Fleet of the San Francisco Bay Area!
Fleet 12 was founded in the 1970s and continues to play host to an exciting series of regattas and events every spring, summer and fall. Our teams sail throughout the Region, USA and Internationally in search of the best competition. No different than the late 70s, our sailors are drawn to the highest level of competition, where both amateur/corinthian sailors compete against the best professionals.
Fleet 12 History
San Francisco Bay Fleet #12 is particularly proud of its legacy in international and national competition in the Etchells. Keen fleet championship racing in the Bay has helped to hone fine efforts from many of the local members.
Drawing first blood from our fleet was Rich Hackett sailing U.S. 432, “Layline” at the 1978 Worlds at Newport Harbor Y.C.. There were 39 competitors and Rich finished 9th overall. Sailing with him were Jim Caldwell and Dave Vickland. Rich won race two by starting at the committee boat and protecting the right side of the beat.
Vito Bialla, in 1980, with the legendary Commodore Thompkins aboard earned a fifth place at the Worlds sailed at the Royal Prince Alfred Y.C. in Brighton. Vito’s finishes were 3,14, 12, 17, 10 and 5 in a 39 boat fleet. In 1981, Don Jesberg won race six and finished 9th overall in a 25-boat fleet at the North American Championship sailed out of Newport Harbor Yacht Club.
At the 1982 Worlds in San Francisco, Russ Silvestri served as middle-man for second place finisher Ben Altman, despite recording a dsq in race #3. John Bertrand with Bill Barton and Kent Massey won race #1 going away. Tim Parsons (sailing for Hong Kong at the time) placed fourth overall; Randy Hecht with Ed Bennett and Ken Keefe were sixth, and John Ravizza with George McMeans and Russ Williams took eighth. 1982 was also the time that the first “Hall of Fame Regatta” was held and newly elected John Bertrand competed in Newport, Rode Island, with Bill Barton and Kent Massey as crew. The regatta was held in drifting conditions in Etchells and was won by Gary Jobson.
Bill Barton and Don Jesberg finished well at the 1983 North Americans sailed at the San Diego Y.C. IN race one an unusual fog bank descended suddenly on the second reach and Don yelled over to Bill to follow him because he had a compass bearing on the mark. In zero visibility, Don and bill moved past their lost competitors and rounded one, two. Don opened up a gigantic lead as the fog lifted but the wind began to die… ON the final beat, Don got virtually becalmed just yards from the finish. A blood-curdling scream from the skipper was heard all the way back at the San Diego Y.C. as “Ultra Violet” was passed by Bill and “Fineline”. Barton with Kent Massey and Leon Daniel as crew ended up 4th for the series, and Don with father, Dave and brother Steve took 5th. Both Barton and Jesberg went to Rye, N.Y. for the 1983 Worlds. Don took 5th overall with his father and brother as crew. In the 60 boat fleet, Don’s finishes were 6, 7, 1, 10, 14. Most memorable was winning race #4. In a light south easterly, Don gambled with a port tack start at the pin and pulled it off! He jumped out to a big lead and was able to holdoff Curtis and Kneulman.
In 1984, John Ravizza and Bill Barton took their campaigns to Sydney, Australia. IN the 63-boat fleet, Barton’s finishes were 10, 5,4, 3,2, PMS for a solid 4th overall. Kent Massey put the project together and worked the bow, while Russ Silvestri did a standout job working the middle. Going in to the last race of the series, they had a shot to win it all particularly if Ian Murray and Dave Curtis had bad races. At mark 3, the fleet #12 boys had the lead with Curtis and Murray deep, but a southerly storm came through the fleet to help Murray to the title. Some of the sting was taken out when our boys learned that they were over early anyway.
At the 1985 Worlds sailed at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club the point spread in the top ten was very tight. John Kostecki with John Bruns and Bob Billingham finished 5th with 70.7 points and Bill Barton with Russ Silvestri and Kent Massey finished 10th with 82 points. Barton won race #3 in very light conditions.
In 1986, the Etchell’s North Americans were sailed out of the San Francisco Yacht Club. John Kostecki was second with Kent Massey and Bob Billingham aboard and Jeff Madrigali finished 3rd with a mixed crew of Bill Barton, Jeff Wayne and John Andrews.
In 1989 the Worlds were sailed at the San Diego Yacht Club and several fleet #12 members made the trip including Don Jesberg, Vito Bialla, John Ravizza, John Sutak, and John Dreyfous. The top local finisher in the 56-boat fleet was Don Jesberg with scores of 5, 10, 1,3, 30, 9 for a 4th place overall. Ken Keefe and Jack Halterman made a standout crew for Don.
In 1990, Bob Billingham helped put together a last minute effort for the Worlds in Perth, Australia, and emerged as World Champion with skipper Chris Law of England. The series was sailed by 55 competitors and in a lot of breeze.
The 1991 Worlds were held at the San Francisco Yacht Club, and Fleet #12 scored very well in a spectacular series (albeit small, with 38 entries). Jeff Madrigali with Jorge Lee and Jeff Wayne aboard finished 3rd despite a dnf in race #3 (broken tiller while leading!). Jeff won race 6 to finish in grand style. Craig Healy with Jim Coggan and Nick Gibbens aboard finished 5th with 42 points. Silvestri and Barton took 6th with big Mike Erlin up front in “Mr. Natural”, Hank Easom and Charlie Mohn were 8th and Don Jesberg finished 9th. This was the last Worlds without a weight limit and can be remembered by winner, Dennis Conner, with a combined crew weight of 818 lbs. Second was Peter Isler with 750 lbs. And Bob Billingham aboard with another monster, former Cal football center, Bobby Fodor, up front. Dennis did win the light air race as well!
Russ Silvestri with Bill Barton and Kent Massey traveled to Marblehead for the 1991 North Americans and took 8th in the 43 boat fleet. They won the final race in very light un-San Francisco conditions.
In 1992 fleet #12 won two major titles. Russ Silvestri, Bill Barton, and Scott Inveen sailed “Mr. Natural” to the North American title at the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach. Their finishes were 2,2,23,2, pms, 5 in a 30-boat fleet. John Ravizza put in a good performance with Stu Huntington and Randy Smith by finishing 5th. Mike LaHorgue with Marc Hinshaw and Bill Keller sailed well and finished 8th, which would have been much better if not for a pms.
Jeff Madrigali with Jeff Wayne and Gary Grande won the Pacific Coast Championships (for the 3rd year in a row!) and won the right to represent aria G in the Mallory Cup. The Madrigali team totally dominated the ’92 event sailed in Etchells at the San Francisco Yacht Club. They won seven of the first eight races and thus were able to skip race nine.
The 1994 Worlds were held in lovely Newport Beach and a number of Fleet 12 members attended. An outstanding performance was turned in by Craig Healy with Dave Gruver in the middle and Keith Stankhe up front. Winning the last race of the Worlds in Healy’s new Bashford boat (#946) secured a strong fourth place finish. Don Jesberg came-on in the last couple of races with John Sutak’s “White Jacket” to slide into tenth.
The 1996 Worlds in Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, saw Bill Barton join forces with his long time friend, Dave Gundy, of Marblehead and Tom Blackwell of Fairfield, CT. They chartered a Bashford boat and were quite competitive. Bill did the middle for Dave with Tom upfront and finished a very competitive fifth place. Their finishes were 12,2, 9, 11, 7 out of 65. First was Adam Gosling of England, narrowly beating Jud Smith. Third was Peter Conde of Australia and fourth was Jamie McWilliam of Hong Kong. The sight of Adams Gosling’s family ocean liner lurking around the finish line was something to behold. It charters for $350,000 per week! Bill stayed a few extra days and teamed up with Eddie Warwick of Cowes, Chariman of the European Class, to race in the Around the Island Race (Isle of Wight) some 66 miles. Over thirteen hundred boats entered the race which features a starting line that extends from the Royal Yacht Squadron clear across the Solent to the coast of England’s mainland! The race is made somewhat manageable by breaking the armada into classes of roughly 300 and starting at 10 minute intervals. In windy conditions with gust to 35 knots and huge ocean swells the Barton/Warwick/John Quincy Adams team sailed the Etchells to third place (pumping out water the entire 8 hours!).
Fleet #12 was represented by Kers Clausen and Spensor Fulweiler at the 1996 North Americans sailed in Rye, New York at the American Yacht Club. A highlight in this regatta that featured blustery easterlies rumblind down the sound was Spensor leading race #5 at the top mark.
Tim Parsons ventured over to Hong Kong in early November, 1996 to compete in the Asia Pacific Cup. Knocking off the rust from the long hiatus of active Etchells racing, he chartered a fast Bashford boat, recruited two excellent sailors (one a former crew) from the local Hong Kong Fleet and finished a strong seventh in a twenty boat fleet.