Staying True to its Founding Spirit

Published on December 7th, 2015

In the fall of 1957, Herbert Sinnhoffer decided to start a race for the purpose of tuning up BUTCHER BOY II for the upcoming offshore race to Acapulco, Mexico. Held in San Diego, CA, the first race brought 18-20 boats. DOLPHIN sailed into first place giving Gerald R. Bill the honor of filling the silver Samovar with hot rum for the remainder of the fleet.

Today, the Hot Rum Series continues on, providing an inverted start and random leg course for fleets over 130 boats, still staying true to the spirit of the race founders. Mr. Sinnhoffer was remembered for saying that the point of the event is to be “…a fun race, (and) to be able to meet afterwards and make friends.”

The 2015 Hot Rum Series kicked off on November 7th with a picture perfect San Diego day; sunny skies and winds around 7-10 knots with gusts up to 15. A Southeast breeze called for spinnakers at the start. Kites started off small with a Catalina 30s and J/22s and grew to very large with a Kernan 70 and J/65. All 140 boats eventually crossed the start line and head out to Point Loma to the first mark.

The wind conditions increased as the racers dropped their chutes conservatively and rounded to head back to the bay. Jim Madden’s Ranger 33 Raving Madness, in its inaugural race, was first to finish and lead their team to celebrate at SDYC post racing. Casamar (David Baer, Catalina 30) followed in second across the line and Wani Racing (Karen Busch, Ericson 35 mkII) finished third. Coronado Brewing Company and Mount Gay Rum greeted sailors with open arms back at the party at SDYC, and everyone said how fortunate they were to be out racing on such a beautiful day.

Little did they know, the second Hot Rum race, held on November 21st, would be just as pristine. The race started with lighter winds in the bay as all the boats waited their turn to start. Most racers decided to go kite up at the start as they had done before. After the majority of smaller boats had rounded the first mark there was a wind gap that left some of the bigger boats stuck momentarily. As they crept along the wind picked back up in time for the large kites to come down. Gusting around 12-14, Ohana (Joe Markee, Swede 55) led the group back into the bay and across the line to be first in class and first overall. Behind Ohana was the Ranger 33 and Valkyrie (Andy Rasdal, Bolt 37) in third.

The final race in the series took the sailors by surprise with winds forecasted to be light. The boats were instead greeted in the starting area by a steady 12 knot breeze as they awaited to begin the last race in the series. Smaller boats were able to use the wind for their start but by the time the bigger boats got going, they found themselves in a hole off of Ballast Point and the little boats shot ahead. The fleet sailed into big gusts off of Point Loma as they headed back toward the finish. Blessed with three perfect Saturday’s, 2015 Hot Rum Series will go down in history as one of the greatest!

Jim Madden continued to dominate the series from beginning to end, finishing 1st, 2nd and 1st overall in each of the races. Madden sailed with a team of skilled SDYC members; Chuck Sinks, Andy La Dow, Al Pleskus, Chris Busch, Jon Gardner, Chris Snow, Bill Ruh, and Max Hutcheson (for Race 3). This was the first regatta sailed by Raving Madness.

“The conditions turned out to be very favorable for the boat,” noted Madden. “We were not sure at the start. She had some pace in light air and did well as the breeze built. Challenging to avoid the wind holes in the course but tacticians Chuck [Sinks] for Race 1 and 2, and Andy [La Dow] for Race 3 did great.”

Next up for the Ranger 33 is likely SDYC’s New Year’s Day Race, in a similar pursuit start format to the Hot Rum, weekday Beer Can racing in the summer months and possibly the always fun Long Point Race Week in August.

Pete Melvin, owner of the trimaran Mama Tried, who finished top 2 in Class 1 in all three races on his way to the Class 1 victory sailed with a team consisting of coworkers (and family) from Morrelli & Melvin including Mark Peters, Ferdinand van West, Andrew Bloxom, and son Luke Melvin (Race 1). They enjoyed the racing, and spending time on the boats in which they design.

Melvin described this first year of racing in the Hot Rum Series for Mama Tried: “Conditions for the races were fantastic with nice solid breeze for all three weekends of racing. The inverted start format is a lot of fun. We are one of the smallest but also fastest boats and had to pass about 130 boats in order to win against the fleet. This made the racing very challenging and interesting for us. Picking our way through the wind shadows of larger boats was critical to our success.”

Dennis Case and his team aboard the J/105 Wings (Class 3 Winner and 3rd Overall) by finishing 2nd in Class and top 8 overall in each race of the series. “This Hot Rum series was really one of the best I can remember in some time. You could not ask for better sunny weather with the wind in the 9 to 18 kts range for all three races. The PHRF time on distance rating system generally favors the big fast boats when the wind is light and when it’s stronger it favors the smaller slower boats. This year the wind was just right. I think everybody had a good fun time on the water. For us on the J/105 Wings it has to be on the last race, when we were close spinnaker reaching to the second mark with the wind gusting to 18 kts and big swells rolling underneath. Close to broaching we would surf the waves doing 14 kts boat speed. Raving Madness and Wani Racing were the top two boats overall and sailed great races and deserve to be congratulated. I only once got close to them. It was never close. But next time if the wind is around 20kts — watch out for Wings!”


Event websiteResults

Race 1 Photo Gallery, photos by Bronny Daniels.
Race 2 Photo Gallery, photos by Cynthia Sinclair.
Race 3 Photo Gallery, photos by Bronny Daniels.

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