The reigning San Francisco Yacht Club Yachtsman of the Year proved his mastery of California’s rugged ocean waters with last month’s Coastal Cup victory.
“It’s not for the meek,” said Steve Stroub, the winning captain of the annual San Francisco Bay to Catalina Island race. “It’s pretty much nonstop for 48 hours; you might sleep 10 minutes, 20 minutes here and there.”
Five of the 16 boats that began the race on the Bay near the St. Francis Yacht Club couldn’t complete the course. In the 2009 Coastal Cup, Stroub’s race ended prematurely in Monterey as his spinnakers were torn in the high winds. This year, he was prepared, as he stowed away a small storm sail on board.
“It would’ve been game over, but we put that little kite up and sailed for 36 hours in 30 knots of breeze,” Stroub said, referring to the challenge of overcoming the boat’s ripped sails as well as a broken rudder. “That’s how we won the race.”
In addition to the little sail, the sea captain credits his six-man crew for the “crushing” victory, particularly the strategy and tactics employed, opting to navigate their boat, a Santa Cruz 37, in the heaviest winds.
“We were the furthest boat off shore. We were 130 miles off Southern California before we jibed towards Catalina,” Stroub said.
Looking younger than his 63 years, the athletically built helmsman was infused with renewed optimism from the Coastal Cup victory, shrugging off those pre-race notions that sailing on the ocean is a “young man’s game.”
Stroub’s first sailing memory was as a toddler on his father’s boats in his native New Jersey. An avid sailor as a teenager, he shifted his focus from cruising to racing his dad’s catamaran. Stroub wandered away from his nautical passion during his college years.
“Turning 30 I realized that I didn’t really have much in life, so I was going to see a shrink or buy a boat,” Stroub recalls.
He bought the boat. In 1984, Stroub, now a Tiburon resident, moved from Jersey to the Twin Peaks district of San Francisco and started Stroub Construction. He set his anchor at Belvedere’s San Francisco Yacht Club and has been sailing ever since, from “beer-can races” on the Bay to dramatic action on the high seas.
“They say you have a bucket list,” Stroub said. “There are two races I’d still like to do: Newport to Bermuda and the Pacific Cup from San Francisco to Hawaii.”
2011 COASTAL CUP: Won three trophies: first in division, first overall, first boat to finish
STROUB’S CREW: Will Paxton (tactician), Alan Cahill, Bruce Davenport, Oliver Wiggett, Mike Blunt
NEXT UP: Sept. 8-11, the Rolex Big Boat Series at the St. Francis Yacht Club