SAN DIEGO (July 21, 2017) Over 150 junior and senior sailors took San Diego Bay on July 21, 2017 for the 48th Annual Dutch Shoe Marathon. A summer time favorite, these competitors completed the annual dinghy distance race from San Diego Yacht Club (SDYC) to Coronado Yacht Club all in a sabot sailboat.
The sky was perfectly sunny and temperatures were in the high 70s with lighter winds mostly around 6 knots when the fleets began, starting in La Playa at noon. From there, they traveled down San Diego Bay, traveling over 7 miles on the race course, ultimately finishing in Glorietta Bay. Most participants were between the ages of 8 and 15 with many adult sailors also participating in the senior division.
Marleigh Henehan from Mission Bay Yacht Club was leading most of the race in her yellow striped sabot. At 14 years old, this was only Marleigh’s second Dutch Shoe Marathon. “I raced it two years ago and I capsized during that race. Since then, I’ve moved up two fleets. The first time I did it I was in C1 and now I’m in C3. I’ve been going to sailing camp in Mission Bay every afternoon to practice.”
Marleigh triumphantly crossed the finish line first, sailing into the horns and cheers of the spectator boats. After crossing she pumped her first in the air and exclaimed, “Girls Rule!”
Kelly Holthus from SDYC, a previous Dutch Shoe Marathon overall winner, was also a finisher this year. About a week ago, Kelly was the youngest sailor (at 12 years old) to race the Transpac - an offshore race from LA to Hawaii. If that’s not impressive enough, prior to the Transpac, Kelly sailed O’pen BICs in Bermuda as part of the America’s Cup Halftime Show.
We asked Kelly how the Dutch Shoe compared to the Transpac. “The Dutch Shoe felt really short compared to Transpac. It wasn’t even the same length as one watch of the Transpac. This race is for fun though. My favorite part of today was going downwind. I got in the outside and started going really fast. I like going fast.”
SDYC Coach Lizzie Matheson has been coaching the Dutch Shoe for two years, having raced it once herself. In order to prepare these juniors for the event, Lizzie said, “we do a practice Dutch Shoe where we help them with not only their boat handling skills, but also with picking where to sail, figuring out how to read the water, how to predict puffs, and we compare their speed to other boats and how to get better.”
Today Lizzie was out on the water patrolling the front and middle boats to make sure that everyone was safe and having fun.
Also out on the water today was SDYC Commodore John Reiter on the Race Committee boat. For many reasons, this is one of his favorite events of the year. "To me, the best part of the Shoe is the finish - there are hoots and hollers from spectators cheering for both the winners and the tail-enders. This year we had a C-fleet girl take home the prize, proving once again that the fairer sex is both smarter and faster! It was a full duke-out for second through fifth with Point Loma HS Sailing Team teammates and an alumni Dad, who was also the first adult finisher. All in all it was another perfect day for the coolest sailboat race on the planet."
Finishing this race is a major accomplishment for these juniors, as it is the longest distance that many of them will sail throughout the summer program. To celebrate, Coronado Yacht Club hosted the awards ceremony where the overall and division winners were announced following the completion of the event.
Class winners include: Jack Egan (A Fleet), Shane Tillson (B Fleet), Marleigh Henehan (C Fleet), and Chuck Sinks (Senior Fleet). Full results are available online here.