Harbor 20: Hitting the Target

Published on July 29th, 2015

Like any good yachting story, the Harbor 20 was conceived in a bar, where a brainstorming session at Newport Harbor Yacht Club would result in the first launch by 1997, with now 416 boats delivered (and rising).

This group in Southern California desired a day sailing/racing boat that was suitable for a very broad range sailors, a target which has found its mark out east too. In 2012, Howard Brooks started Harbor 20 Fleet 5, which is located in Annapolis, MD. With numbers in the mid-teens a year ago, the fleet now boasts two dozen boats.

“The selection of the Harbor 20 sailboat is a growing phenomenon at Annapolis Yacht Club,” Brooks notes. “The boat’s design, style and performance have compelled a number of members to get back into sailing. This is true of not only past sailors, but also current sailors who want a simpler boat that provides both racing and social sailing opportunities.”

The format of the races caters to more mature sailors that like to race but prefer shorter races limited to few hours during the day. Weekday evening or Frostbite type race formats are preferred, though on occasion there are weekend races.

“The membership is engaged in the racing and typically we see more than ten boats turnout,” said Fleet Captain Marino DiMarzo. “At the Leukemia Cup in May we had all 24 boats on the starting line. There is a lot of interest since the boat and the activities cater to racers who may not be active in more traditional classes or in PHRF.”

DiMarzo sees their steady growth a result of what that initial brainstorming session was after.

“The boat is particularly comfortable and easy to maintain, and you can race very competitively single handed or with two or three people,” observes DiMarzo. “But it is not just about the racing. There are social activities on land during the winter and on the water during the season. These events attract a large portion of the membership. Most important of all, the people are very nice and it is a highly welcoming group.”

Keeping everyone moving in the same direction is the key to success at the fleet level.

“The fleet membership receives a weekly update via email and issues are discussed and addressed promptly,” reports DiMarzo. “We try to assist the various members with tips or fixes on their respective boats. We have a fleet sailmaker and we work closely with him to insure that the sails are consistently performing. We have developed tuning guides and we hold seminars on sail trimming, rules, and tactics on a yearly basis.”

Brooks notes how the creation of Harbor 20 fleet has resulted in new members joining Annapolis Yacht Club. “The unique aspect of the Harbor 20 owners is a common desire to get together socially and enjoy company of fellow Fleet 5 members.”

Plans are underway for the first national championship to be held in 2016 in Newport Beach, CA and with the Annapolis fleet to host the event in 2017.

Class detailsFleet 5 detailsBuilder information

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