"The Bear Class Sloop is a living piece of San Francisco Bay's maritime history. Conceived by Ernest Nunes and Marty Martinson, the first keel was laid late in 1931 by the Nunes Boat and Ways Company, Sausalito, California. By the summer 1932, the new boat was ready for its first sea trial. On lookers reported that Commodore Cliff Smith of the San Francisco Yacht Club praised the effort, telling young Ernest Nunes, "That is a bear of boat." The name stuck and a unique class, indigenous to San Francisco Bay, was born."
By the late 1950s enthusiastic owners, competitive racing, and adventurous sure-footed sailing craft made the Bears the largest one-design class on San Francisco Bay. Never having achieved mass production, the Bear Class was truly home grown as new boats were added to the fleet by an assortment of professional and amateur builders. Active and highly competitive racing continued through the 1960s with as many as 65 boats in the fleet.
Starting in 2009, a core group of enthusiastic Bear Boat owners started to re-acquaint the greater San Francisco Bay sailing community with these wonderful little yachts. Near term efforts were focused on getting the boats out in sufficient numbers to sail, race and reinvigorate the Bear Boat Association.
Five boats raced in this year’s Wooden Boat Racing Association (WBRA) season and six boats have been rescued by active owners in the past several years.
The San Francisco Bay Bear Boat Association celebrated the 80th birthday of the launching of #1 Merry Bear in 2012. The SFBBA is active today, organizing racing and social events throughout the year.
The Association calender consists of:
A Season Championship weekend racing series with the Wooden Boat Racing Association. The season runs from April through September, with no racing in July. Racing is held on approximately 10 weekends with 2 races per weekend at different courses throughout the Bay.
The Master Mariners Benevolent Association Regatta raced every Memorial Day Weekend. The Bears are the first start of the Regatta, along with the San Francisco Maritime Museum Scow Schooner “Alma”.
The St. Francis Woodies Invitational, raced over the first weekend in June, held off the St. Francis Yacht Club (St. FYC), on the SF “City Front” race course.
The San Francisco Yacht Club Fall Classic, raced in September or October, for the Bear Boat Association Perpetual Trophy.
Social events include our post-season Awards Dinner, informal sail-ins, and work parties.
There are always Bears looking for new enthusiastic owners and others looking for rescue.
The Bear Boat TRUST is a more than ten year old non-profit charitible corporation whose purpose is the rescue, renovation, and relocation to a good home of Bear Boats. This missionary work costs money, and the TRUST is where it comes from. The TRUST loves to receive your financial contributions as well as your contributions of gear and other stuff which is salable for profits which then goes to the TRUST to support Bear Boats temporarily without a home. These contributions are currently not tax deductible. Please give a lot and give often!! You can donate to the TRUST by contacting the Bear Association Treasurer.