The San Diego Yacht Club and Newport Harbor Yacht Club are celebrating the 10th annual Islands Race on February 15-16, 2019. The decade old, 134 nautical mile race is a signature SDYC offshore regatta co-hosted with Newport Harbor Yacht Club. An expected 25+ boats will start from Long Beach Harbor, make way around Santa Catalina and San Clemente Islands and finish in Point Loma.
As the first race of the 2019 Offshore Racing Calendar, many competitors will be using this event to prepare for the NHYC Cabo Race later in the Spring. The NHYC Cabo Race is an 800 nautical mile, 3-4 day, intense offshore competition. The Islands Race, involving only a single overnight at sea with various offshore wind and sea conditions, is a good opportunity for sailors to get ocean experience while still remaining relatively coastal.
Competitors in the Islands Race will head offshore in west to northwest trade-winds that flow southward down the coast. Boats will typically encounter better sailing winds in the evening as they get further into the trades, and round Catalina and San Clemente islands. However, as they pass to windward of these islands, they are exposing themselves to larger swells and wind waves that are not blocked by the islands.
SDYC Waterfront Director Jeff Johnson explains the challenges with these offshore winds. “As the winds flow down the coast, they continue south even as the coastal shoreline recedes to the east. This creates a gap between those trade winds and the coast line, over most of Southern California. During the day, the thermal effect pulls those offshore winds into the coast, but at night, coastal waters are largely calm. However, the trade winds continue to flow, just further out to sea. The Islands Race course places competitors among those night-time winds and gives them valuable night-time offshore sailing experience.”
The Islands Race typically appeals to boats that are “ocean going,” suggesting a more sturdy build, spartan interior and sails that are built for higher winds. Competing crews should be trained and experienced, familiar with handling a wider range of sailing conditions, day and night.
Len Bose, a frequent competitor in the Islands Race as captain of the Santa Cruz 50 Horizon, explains some of the trials he and the other sailors face during the race. “I have sailed in six of the races, including the extremely cold and windy race of 2013… If the breeze comes in, you best have your game face on because we all understand it can ‘blow the dogs off chains’ out there,” he began.
“With a foot of water constantly going over the deck, I was wondering why I was so cold and wet. After the race I noticed I had a huge hole in the bottom of my foul weather gear and it was scooping up the sea water, making my legs look twice their size. 2013 produced some of the roughest seas I’ve been in. Because it’s the first offshore race of the season and cold, one best be ready,” Bose finished.
In 2018 for the second year in a row, Roy Disney's Andrews 70 Pyewacket took first place overall for the regatta followed by John Sangmeister's Santa Cruz 70 OEX in second and Shelter Island Transatlantic Partners' Mills 68 Prospector in third.
Competitors can enjoy a pre-race social at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club on Thursday, February 14 at 1800. After the race, an awards ceremony will be held at the San Diego Yacht Club on Saturday, February 16 at 1500. SDYC will host all competitors to carving and pasta salad stations, along with complimentary beer.
The Co-Chairs for the Islands Race are Wayne Terry (SDYC) and Grant Edgcomb (NHYC).
Registration is available online at www.islandsrace.com.
Friends, family, and the sailing community can follow the race by tuning in to the YB Tracking race tracker display, showing real time position updates every 15 minutes, accessible from www.islandsrace.com.