Blackaller is back

Thanks to the efforts of numerous individuals and organizations, everyone’s favorite nearly invisible mark is now much easier to locate.

For those who may be new to the bay, YRA 16, otherwise known as Blackaller Buoy, is located just off of Fort Point, and is named for famed Bay Area yachtsman Tom Blackaller, who tragically passed away in 1989 at the age of 49. Tom was a larger-than-life figure in the sailing community not just in the Bay Area but worldwide. 

Blackaller cut his teeth in the Star Class, and after experiencing success locally here on the Bay, he moved into the 6 meter class where he became world champion in 1973. He worked directly with Lowell North as a sailmaker, and parlayed this success up to the pinnacle of sailing, eventually becoming tactician for Russell Long’s upstart America’s Cup campaign Clipper which gave a good run to Dennis Conner’s Freedom.

In addition to a prolific sailing career, Blackaller was a motorsports enthusiast who accomplished a great deal as an amateur race car driver. Tragically, he suffered a heart attack during a race and died.

Blackaller was known not just as a successful sailor but as a colorful personality. Anyone who knew him had a Blackaller story, and after his death a tribute was held by his friends at St. Francis, and many of those tales made their way online.

After his death, St. Francis established the mark to honor his legacy. Since that time, anyone has raced on the bay has experienced the frustration of trying to find this tiny little mark. No longer! Thanks to the efforts of the Army Corp of Engineers, Scott Easom, the St. Francis Yacht Club including Bruce Stone and others, Blackaller Buoy is now cleaner, more secure & more visible, and will continue to confound racers for years to come.

Mike DonohueBlackaller is back