Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Islands Race Preview

J/125 sailing Islands Race(San Diego, CA)- San Diego Yacht Club and Newport Harbor Yacht Club's Islands Race is making its way to the starting line on February 21-22, 2020. Returning to the sea for its 11th annual running, this signature event is expecting over 25 boats to race from Long Beach, California, around offshore landmarks Santa Catalina Island and San Clemente Islands, and then to finish off Point Loma in San Diego.

For many, the Islands Race kicks off start of the 2020 Offshore Racing Calendar and doubles as a shakedown for the Newport Harbor Yacht Club Cabo San Lucas Race or, on alternate years, San Diego Yacht Club's Puerto Vallarta Race. With the race only involving one night at sea, it works as the perfect opportunity to gain offshore experience.

"The Islands Race is our final check before Puerto Vallarta 2020 and we are preparing for it as we would any other major offshore regatta...with safety gear, boat preparation, weather planning, communication, et cetera," explained navigator Ivan Batanov.

J/111 Picosa sailing Islands RaceNewcomer Andrew Wescoat, sailing the J/109 HARMS'S WAY, has an array of offshore races planned after the Islands Race and looks forward to spending some time on the west coast. "This is our first Islands Race. We're bringing Harm's Way from Texas to California to race in a number of offshore events between February and June. Over this past summer, we've been sailing in a number of offshore events in the Gulf of Mexico, so we're really looking forward to this chance to sail with everyone in California."

Roy Disney's giant sled PYEWACKET has a loyal crew that can attest to some of the challenges of the Islands Race. "I've done this race about five times, and it seems to always be a challenge," said Robbie Haines. "There's either lots of wind, or tricky navigational issues. Rounding San Clemente Island is very tactical, especially on the East End. We always seem to finish early morning off Point Loma with interesting transitions to stay in the wind on our way in."

Islands Race course mapCompetitors 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 off 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 coastline, 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."

A number of top offshore Southern California J/Teams are participating in this classic "SoCal" race. Sailing the ORR 5 Division is Wescoat's J/109 HARM'S WAY, Doug & Jack Jorgensen's J/111 PICOSA, Standish Fleming's J/125 NEREID, and Paul Stemler's J/44 PATRIOT.  For more Islands Race sailing information