Saturday, June 4, 2016

SoCal 300 Race Preview

J/111 sailing upwind (Santa Barbara, CA)- With two-thirds of the inaugural California Offshore Race Week in the books, one thing stands out, it's a winner!

By combining the efforts of 3 singular events into one extended week and working around the Memorial Day holiday, organizers and participants alike have to be ecstatic on the turnout and competition achieved.

Beginning with Friday’s Spinnaker Cup, the annual 88nm (usually downhill) jaunt from Francisco to Monterey saw a record sixty boats that participated, up significantly from 23 participants in 2015, and well exceeding the average mid 30's to low 40's over past 5-7 years. With boats and crews already that far down the coast, why not continue on?

The 2nd leg, the Coastal Cup was reduced from its original 277 nm grind from San Francisco to Santa Barbara (a good idea since it had recently been on life support!). With only 8 boats in attendance in 2015, and a complete cancellation in 2014 for lack of participants, 9 boats in 2013 and not much better in the previous years, it appears the magic is back. 29 boats registered and 27 sailed the 200nm race from Monterey to Santa Barbara.

The 3rd leg of the Race week will take the 29 registered boats from Santa Barbara to San Diego this Friday and wrap up on Sunday June 5th. In total, a ten-day week’s worth of sailing, if you will, with layovers! Compared to most race weeks these days that run for 3-4 days, it is a lot of serious sailing co-mingled with some relaxation and enjoyment in the beautiful places the boats have sailed to.

"We wanted to create an event that would combine some of the most scenic ports and coastline on the West Coast with family friendly travel,” says David Servais, one of the chairs on the CORW committee.  "You have San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara and San Diego all linked together in a situation where family and friends can follow along, while enjoying great scenery and reconnoiter in these beautiful cities, and have some relaxing down time in the process.  Fortunately, the sailors are psyched and it seems to be working!"

There is something to be said for destination sailing, but all too often, crews, upon arrival will quickly turn around to deliver boats back to port, or throw them on a trailer and hit the highway without taking in much of the ambiance. As for the extended layover in Santa Barbara, the extra time allowed for some sailors and crew to return home to tend to business while others could mend worn bits and pieces on the boats and body.

The final leg, the 2nd annual SoCal 300, which is actually 255nm as the crow flies, begins with a 35nm semi-uphill leg from Santa Barbara to the west end of Santa Cruz Island, then crack off to towards San Nicolas Island, before heading almost due south to the Bishop Rock Buoy before turning back to shore in a south east fashion and finishing in San Diego. Last year's inaugural event drew nine offshore competitors, but was embraced with remarkable rave reviews.

"We tried to form an offshore race that gets boats out to where the wind is, and showcase some of the finer bluewater attributes of the SoCal area.  I think we succeeded,” Dave adds. With 29 boats participating, 20 more than last year, it appears the marriage of NorCal and SoCal events has legs.

Thus far, sailors have enjoyed a wide variety of conditions, from brisk down hill surfing, to tight reaches in light air, close encounters of the cetacean kind, including up close and personal, humpback breaches, grey whale nudges, elephant seals, dolphins, schools of tuna, and hooked crab pots to keep them amused.

A number of hot offshore J/crews will be giving the SoCal 300 their best shot.  In PHRF Class D is a trio of super-fast, smart offshore teams, like John Lyon’s J/160 INNOCENT MERRIMENT from San Diego YC, Viggo Torbensen’s J/125 TIMESHAVER from Dana Point YC and Scott Grealish’s lightning bolt- the J/88 BLUE FLASH from Willamette SC in Portland, Oregon.  The only J/team in PHRF E class is Ed Sanford’s experienced offshore crew on the J/105 CREATIVE from San Diego YC.  Sailing photo credits- Sharon Green/ Ultimate Sailing.  For more SoCal 300 Race sailing information.