Club News

RP52 Vitesse Wins 2019 Islands Race

By Jeff Johnson, Waterfront Director | February 20, 2019
Islands Race Website Photo Gallery Results

The 2019 Islands Race is safely tucked in the history books. For the record, 30+ boats registered this year, with 26 boats in 5 different fleets making it to the start line, and safely around the course to the finish. The course this year was modified to allow for an unusually large military training and certification exercise off San Clemente Island that included several large exclusion zones to be avoided. Thus, in an abundance of caution, the course was shortened to exclude San Clemente and to round only Catalina Island and proceed directly to the San Diego finish. The weather was fully considered as well. Leading up to the race, there were two fronts forecast to bring severe winds and rain across the course during the race. Those forecasts were revised during the days leading up to the race resulting in a nice, but still blustery breeze of mid-teen to mid-twenties forecast with short periods of rain shown for race day. Winds were lighter than forecasted at the start and the lead boats spend the better part of four hours covering the 23 miles to West End Catalina. As night fell, the breeze increased, but again, not as severely as anticipated. Most boats were in full sail mode with periodic clear skies between small localized squalls, and good sized swells to work off the wind.

At the finish line, just 114nm from the start line, boats were still pretty tightly grouped. In ORR Division 1, SDYC's Tom Holthus on BadPak were first to finish with a corrected handicap time of third in class and third overall. Disney's Andrews 70 Pyewacket finished second overall and second on correct time with Tom Furlong's RP52 Vitesse as the third boat to finish, but correcting out to win ORR Division on and Overall honors.

ORR 2 featured a duel between frequent competitors and Santa Cruz 52 sisterships Triumph owned by Steve Sellinger and Lucky Duck owned by Dave MacEwen. The two boats do have slightly different ratings but still every second counts. Triumph crossed the bow of Lucky Duck just yards before the finish line, but were unaware they were sailing parallel to the virtual finish line, which is just a pair of GPS waypoints with the San Diego Harbor entrance buoy visible at one end. Lucky Duck finished 26 seconds ahead of Triumph, for a corrected time win of 1 minute and 7 seconds. 

In ORR 3, Bob Pethick's Rogers 46 Bretwalda3 showed off its ocean racing experience charging around the course in an elapsed time of 12 hours, 31 minutes 47 seconds and correcting out over second place by almost 1 hour, and placed 6th overall.

Perennial Island Race competitor and former race chair Paul Stemler in his J/44 Patriot topped the four boat ORR 4 class, while in ORR 5 class, Standish Fleming sailed his C&C115 Nereid to a win over his only class competitor Herwig Baumgartner's Beneteau 36.7 Sonrisa.

Many competitor praised the shortened course, especially in light of the two weather fronts that loomed on either side of the race schedule. Conditions were reported to be good, but everyone was aware of the skills and focus needed to stay safe while racing offshore, especially at night. At one point, a competitor answered a concerned radio call by a Navy destroyer holding station off Camp Pendleton, who was unsure what they were seeing on their radar. On such a dark and stormy night, they were amazed to learn of the 26 intrepid boats racing down the coast. All in good fun!