Yacht Racing and The Midwinters

Aboard the Bobbi Tossi

I joined the Race Committee in July of 2016. Yachting is not what you think, but simply a group of people who love the water, sailing and competitive sports.

It’s a cross between golfing and skiing. The people are down to earth like my fellow all-walks-of-life ski and snow board buddies, from my ski instructor days in Tahoe. Racing is similar to golfing as rules and handicaps apply, and mean that even if you win the race, you might not win the race.

The people are young and old, and from all over the world, with an incredible array of personalities and politics.

On Saturday, I was on the Mark Set boat, to set the race course before the race. We traveled a mile out and dropped a buoy with an anchor and then headed a mile down wind to set the second and watch the race. At lunchtime, we joined the rest of the committee on the committee boat sitting in the sunshine eating sandwiches, chips and dip, and lots of cookies. Sailors like cookies it appears.

I spent the entire day on the water in the sun and wind. Afterwards, the Race Committee convened to the bar. I changed out of my foulies, and looked in the mirror, my eyes were an even clearer blue green then they were before. There is always this feeling of lightness in the air near the water.

From the Yacht Club, I watch the sun go down, and sit with Bobbi and John, and talk about their nine PAC Cup races to Hawaii. Then, my friends join me, and we leave together to go to dinner.

A day like this is a cure for almost anything. I woke up this morning with a sense of happiness, grace, and gratitude.

Love and blessings to all.

Telling My Story

Ocean SF Website
Andrew Lacenere and I met two years ago on a sail in September of 2015. During the many sailing trips that followed, Andrew and I dreamed into existence what would become Ocean SF.  Then, in July of 2016 my husband died of a sudden heart attack, leaving me in a predictable tailspin. 

My daughters needed me desperately, and I couldn’t foresee leaving them for the long hours in the city that my background as a Director of Marketing required, nor could I imagine giving up the passion I had for the company I had just started.

The Sailing terminology I learned at the Olympic Circle Sailing Club taught me the language I needed, and I decided to stay the course. 

I committed myself 100% to Ocean SF, and stayed the course I had previously set. I had worked for many startups in the past, and I knew what would be required of me, and that it would be far from easy. It would take everything I had to give, and then some, but if I had to work around the clock at least I would be close to home, and as my own boss, I could prioritize my time. 

Today, I attended a summit for entrepreneurs in SF as the guest of UBS, and there I met Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite. Among other things, Julia raised 200 Million in capital for a recent acquisition. Julia was, smart, funny, beautiful, and inspiring. What a difference a year makes.  

Love and blessings to all. 

The Past, the Recent Past & the Future 

San Francisco Bay

I’ve spent a great deal of time mapping out the events of the past. For a long time, I wanted to find the exact point in time, even the exact moment, when things took a turn for the worst, as if I personally could go back in time, and reverse the damage to create a better outcome. 

Well, there is no exact moment to find, and if I could find it, I couldn’t do anything about it, as that is now the past, so I’ve reconciled myself to taking the gifts of those moments with me as I move into my future, and leaving the rest behind. 

As much as I wanted to separate myself from the past, for the last few months there has been an echo, and it made me feel like nothing I did could ever truly erase the memories, both good and bad of what went before.  Now, I can even feel that fading, as my new life takes shape and my hopes, dreams and plans begin to materialize. As I become much more interested and invested in the future, even the recent past becomes a series of events not worth holding onto, or paying attention to.

Recently, I’ve forced myself to slow down. I sleep more, and I’m genuinely conscious of my own well being, and need to rest. I know I will need my strength as our company Ocean SF takes off and the demands placed on my time and energy increase.

This is that quiet place between the future and the past, or the calm before the storm.

Love and blessings. 

Purpose, Passion & The Express 37 Nationals

Race 5, Express 37 Nationals

Finding your purpose is no easy task. Often, people ask me how I found my passion for making Sailing Apparel, or even just sailing in general, and I have to say, it wasn’t easy. 

I always knew I was a writer, this was not something I needed to become, it’s what I’ve  always been. I was told throughout high school and college how gifted I was in this area, but I’m very outgoing, so I could never imagine myself sitting alone and just writing. And also, I loved fashion, and I absolutely love to paint. 

Once, when I was still raising my family, a close friend of mine asked, “What are you going to do next? you have such varied talents.” It was true, having many interests, and choosing one was a major challenge that held me back for a long time. 

When I was in high school, I painted a photograph from an ad in Vogue Magazine. At the time, I had many offers to model, and I did model often, but I wanted to prove my intellect instead, so this line of work didn’t interest me at all. But, I adored Vogue and had a magazine subscription. It influenced me so much, that I wore Joy perfume, and a Cartier watch for many years. 

Recently, I pulled out this painting to show my daughter, and I left it sitting on an easel in my dining room. During a strategy meeting at my home, for Ocean SF, I was sitting across from this painting, and thought – all of this makes perfect sense. My love of fashion, and the outdoors, combined with my marketing background, and my writing ability; all of these go together and have placed me here. 

I always wanted to sail. I started in Portland on the Willamette River in my very early 20’s, then I moved to SF, where I would drive across the Bridges and wish I could be on one of the beautiful sail boats below, but I fell in love with a golfer, and we did that instead. 

As my family grew, I remembered this dream, and when I had more time, I fit a class into my busy schedule. I can’t say that I knew right away, the first days I was very sea sick, but I followed the bread crumbs of joy, and didn’t give up.

Today, I have a boat in slip 212 at Berkeley Marina, and the Berkeley Yacht Club is my second home. I’m on Race Committee, which means I hoist the flags, when the whistle blows, to start the Yacht races. 

Now, it all feels pretty obvious, I’ll design clothes, and write every morning, I’ll paint when I have the time, and I’ll sail and ski. It’s amazing it took so long to see this.

I can’t tell you how lucky I feel. 

Find the thing you love that makes your heart pound, and do that. 

Love and blessings to all. 

The Evolution Is Now 


Dear Friends,

Please join me in launching our company OCEAN SF. Our signature jacket is not just a product, but an evolution. This jacket replaces your current mid layer polyester fleece with a warm, sustainable, all natural technical garment that will be the last mid layer jacket you will ever buy.  

Every time a polyester fleece jacket is washed up to 250,000 plastic microfibers shed into our water system. Much of this does not get filtered by municipal water utilities and ends up in both the ocean and even our drinking water!  

OCEAN SF is a performance sailing apparel company, and is focused on using natural fibers, especially Merino Wool, and state of the art fabric milling technologies to create adventure gear with a higher calling. Their real aim is to stop the plastic pollution that comes from clothing, and they are holding no bars.

For centuries sailors have looked to wool to keep them warm even when they get wet. Now OCEAN SF has combined the material benefits of wool with state-of-the-art fabric milling technologies. Our textiles themselves are very sophisticated. We’ve been able to weave and knit multiple textures into a single piece of cloth. The interior side is meant to trap air between the garment and user’s skin to keep them warm, the outside is meant to be a bit more rugged and resilient.

We believe that our jackets couldn’t come at a better time because it has recently been determined that the standard “polyester fleece” jacket pollutes up to 250,000 plastic microfibers into our water system every time it is washed. Recent studies conclude that not only does the deep ocean contain a great deal of plastic microfiber pollution BUT ALSO that 94% of tested drinking water in the US contains plastic microfibers. We’re literally drinking our plastic clothes. We believe that natural fibers, especially our high-performance, highly technical merino wool garments can make a huge difference in the quest to shift this paradigm. We aim to prove the performance of merino wool, and in so doing we hope to catalyze a major shift away from polyester garments.

Join us in sharing our vision of wearing natural fabrics in a natural world. We currently have our cotton T-shirts and signature jackets for sale on our website at OCEAN SF.

Our signature jacket:

Custom Milled Luxurious Merino Wool

  • Made in California
  • Superior Design
  • Beautiful Fit

“My Ocean SF jacket is the only jacket I ever wear. It’s warm, comfortable and I love the long zippered sleeves!” – Tom Dryja, Sailing Instructor, OCSC, Berkeley, CA 

Our wool fabric is being milled now, and we will start sewing soon. Quantities are limited, so order now at OCEAN SF for delivery in late 2017.

Thank you to everyone for your love and support as we have built and launched this company. We look forward to bringing you beautiful, sustainable, and the most loved adventure clothing in the world.

Love and Blessings to all.

Sydney 

Sydney Ann Chaney-Thomas

Whatever Happens Next is Happening Now

I often ask myself, what’s going to happen next? 

I’ve spent the last several years planning. Even before my husband died, I was searching for my next big thing. I started teaching at UC Berkeley’s International Program. I took a series of interesting jobs, one with an art gallery, another with an online retailer.  I learned to sail completing my basic keelboat training at OCSC and passing my written American Sailing Association test. 

The summer my husband died, I had just started Ocean SF and our nonprofit the Trident Project. We were in development for our product line and had planned our first fund raiser. It was a rocky time, but we stayed the course, and now our online store and Ocean SF website is up and we are in full production. 

My business partner Andrew, was very understanding of what we termed, “the situation,” and protected me as much as possible. Most notably, the week I was spreading my husband’s ashes and our boat was going to be towed off the guest dock.  Andrew’s common response to me when we spoke was, “no worries,” when in actuality, there was always plenty to be worried about.

From the very beginning, I made the mental health of my daughters the priority and dominant focus. It’s paid off, and all is well.  Now, everyday I watch my life move forward, in positive ways. All of the plans, and hopes, and dreams I had for my future are coming true. 

The other night, I had my sailing friends over, we sat in our tree house and drank wine. It was a beautiful warm night, tranquil and calm.

Love and blessings to all. 

Natural Disasters & Windsurfing 

​On Saturday, I was asked to be on the Race Committee Boat for the Cal Cup Windsurfing Race in the San Francisco Bay. 

With so much sadness going on the world, fires destroying the beloved Columbia Gorge outside of Portland, in Oregon where I grew up, floods in Texas, and massive hurricanes along the Florida Coast, it felt strange to focus on windsurfing, especially since the Columbia Gorge, is a major destination for the sport.

But, nevertheless, there I was, watching this beautiful spectacle on the Bay all afternoon, and spending time with people from all over the world, and women who have raced to Hawaii a dozen times, and across every major passage.

Once again, life continues to surprise with its many twists and turns. I sat on the bow of the Commadore’s boat, with the “P” flag, praying for all of those in peril, and at the same time, counting my own blessings; to be alive in the world, healthy, and surrounded by so much beauty. 

Love and blessings to all.

The Ninth Path & Designing Sailing Clothes

Berkeley Yacht Club photo by Lydia Oxendine

Recently, I met up with a former colleague of mine at the Berkeley Yacht Club, affectionately referred to as BYC. I often meet friends here since it is central to the East Bay where I live, and the city where many other people live.

On this day, and many others, I’m asked how I got into sailing, or more importantly, how I came to make sailing clothing. In both instances it was literally out of necessity.

I am passionate about the outdoors. I don’t just need it, I crave it, and can not live without it. I get a feeling of happiness and freedom when I am sailing that I am addicted to.  I love the heart stopping moment the engine is turned off, and the boat turns into the wind, and it is loud, but silent at the same time.

So, that is why I sail.

I make clothes because it’s bone chillingly cold on the San Francisco Bay.  I am very sensitive to both heat and cold and I am someone who likes to be comfortable. When I started sailing I wore my ski jackets and polar fleece.  This was fine, until I was hit by a wave that went down the back of my ski jacket and through three layers of clothing. I then had to spend the next four hours in the wind soaked to the skin. When I got to shore, my teeth were shattering and I was shaking so badly I couldn’t drive.

After that, I bought my Gill Foulies, but would get my midlayer wet and be shivering for hours.  When Andrew Lacenere told me he was making sailing clothes, I went to the boat he was living on, appropriately named, “Dreamer” where he had a sewing machine and bolts of wool from New Zealand. Now, mind you, I have made better clothes for my Barbies, but the fabric felt like cashmere, and after launching software companies, I thought how hard could it be to make clothes? Well, as it turns out, it’s plenty hard, but that’s another post.

After agreeing to help Andrew, he sent me a link to the famous letter written in 1958 by writer Hunter S. Thompson (see except below).  I still love being a teacher at Cal, a writer, and a painter. And, I remember fondly, my marketing days in the financial district, but none of this compares to making clothes.

I met pattern maker Emma Garrison in LA in early June, and explained, this is my vision, and handed her a drawing and a bolt of orange fabric.  This is where my most charming personal characteristic comes in handy, my naivety, had I known what I was getting into, I might not have done it.  A few weeks later, a box arrived on my doorstep, ironically, I was in the middle of a sailboat race that day, so my beautiful daughter Paris, put on the first prototype for our mid-layer jacket and sent me a photo. With frozen fingers, I opened her text and saw it on my phone, and at that moment, I knew, I had found my ninth path.

I’ve said it before, find what makes your heart pound, and do that.

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On Jeanette reading Paris’ text

The Ninth Path 

by Hunter S. Thompson

“To put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.

We must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires—including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL.

Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN—and here is the essence of all I’ve said—you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

For the full letter, click here: The Ninth Path, Letters of Note, Hunter S. Thompson