Slow start, Fast finish for inaugural Rum Runner

Published on November 4th, 2014

The inaugural Rum Runner race from Corona del Mar to San Diego in Southern California kicked off on Saturday, November 1, with a fleet of 19 of the fastest yachts on the West Coast tackling the 75 nm course.

With a low pressure system over the race area, the weather was unstable but held the possibility of good breeze. The morning welcomed sailors with a cold front blowing through, kicking up winds in excess of 20 knots and bringing heavy rain. While some crew donned their foul weather gear and prepped their boats, most of the sailors could be found hiding in the bar at Balboa Yacht Club waiting for the weather to clear.

By start time, however, the front had passed and the fleet enjoyed clear skies but little wind. Division 3 started first, with the yachts struggling to get across the start line. In five minute intervals, Division 2, Division 1, and finally the Multihull division all started right on the heels of the Division 3 boats.

The lack of wind saw the fleet scatter, each navigator trying to gain advantage by getting to the wind first. As the group made their way offshore to the 14 mile bank turning mark, the breeze steadily filled in, and by the time yachts reached the turn, they were enjoying a westerly wind of 10-14kts. From here they set spinnakers for a heated up run to San Diego.

As the afternoon progressed, conditions could not have been better. Clear skies and 15-20 knot winds had the fleet ripping down the coast. Yachts could occasionally be seen broaching as they pushed the limits of their helmsmen. The “Mighty Merloe”, an Orma 60 trimaran made quick work of the course, finishing the route in just three hours forty three minutes. The fastest monohulls, the STP65 “Bad Pak” and the TP52 “Bud” both finished before the sunset, just in time for happy-hour at San Diego Yacht Club.

Finishing in time for dinner were the Division 2 boats, with the J-125 “Timeshaver” crossing the line around 7pm at the front of their fleet. Finally it was the Division 3 boats coming in late in the evening but still before the bars close – the new J-88 “Blue Flash” leading the pack with a finish time that would see her win her division and win overall on corrected time. Every yacht in the fleet finished, and while some had equipment issues, none had any serious problems.

After working out the ratings it was the Rogers 46 “Varuna” winning Division 1, the Flying Tiger “Mile High Klub” taking Division 2, the J-88 “Blue Flash” winning Division 3 and the Orma 60 “Mighty Merloe” winning the Multihull Division.

The awards ceremony will be held in the Frost Room at San Diego Yacht Club on Saturday, November 8 at 6:00pm. Full results can be found online at

With the success of the inaugural race, event hosts Balboa Yacht Club and San Diego Yacht Club have committed to run it again in 2015 with the start date to be Saturday, October 31.

Report by David Servais.

Photos taken by Sean Oversmith at the finish line. Above is Victor Wild’s “Bud”. Below is Howard Enloe’s “Mighty Merloe” (left) and Tom Holthus’s “Bad Pak”.

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