Knarr She Blows!

Messing about with boats, some quite small and some overly large, is something that happens regularly on San Francisco Bay, providing juxtapositions like this one—a trio of sailboats dwarfed by an incoming container ship.

What’s unusual about this image, though, is the type of sailboat you see. It’s a knarr (don’t pronounce the “k” unless you’re reading this in Norway), and they’re found (mostly) in just three places in the world—here in the Bay Area, Denmark and the aforementioned Norway.

The 30-foot boats are so rare that their owners travel around the globe to race each other, rotating the contest between the three locales. This year was the Bay Area’s turn, and the Belvedere-based San Francisco Yacht Club hosted the 39th International Knarr Championship during the first week of September. More than two dozen knarrer (yep, that’s the plural) took to the bay, and a San Franciscan held off last year’s champion, a Dane, to win it all. He has bragging rights as the world’s best knarr skipper until the contest shifts to Norway next year.

Several Marin knarr owners, including some with suspiciously Scandinavian-sounding names, such as Knud Wibroe and Sean Svendsen, acquitted themselves well in their knarly craft. (Couldn’t let the pun opportunity pass, but bet you k-new that was coming.)