As Good as it Gets is Back

Published on July 12th, 2016

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
I hope everyone has that one sailing venue that is completely inconvenient, yet worth all the effort. In California, that venue is Huntington Lake, and the event is the High Sierra Regatta.

Traveling north from San Diego, you depart at an hour that hopes to escape the nightmare that is Los Angeles traffic. The first test for car and trailer-able boat is to summit ‘The Grapevine’, a section of Interstate 5 that climbs out of the LA Basin and then drops into Central California.

By the time you arrive in Fresno, you are six hours into the trip, bored from the straightest highway known to man, and endured the kind of heat that helps produce half of the fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in the United States (but is unbearable when the A/C fails).

And yet, the trip hasn’t really begun. You now turn right, and for the next 90 minutes, you brace yourself for the kind of narrow windy road that can climb up to 7,000 feet. Did I mention the two kids under 10 years in the car?

When you arrive, it is typically late. And dark. That’s when you go looking for your campsite. The tent that you haven’t seen for a year now becomes your project. There’s lots of offloading to do, hoping the ice that was meant to sustain the weekend’s food survived the trip. Rest can’t come soon enough.

And then the sun rises and you smell the air. So fresh! The lake is long and narrow, surrounded by granite peaks and pine trees. Glassy until moments before the 11am start, the wind angles directly down the lake, always finding double digits. Fresh water, warm winds. It’s where I won my first Lido 14 Nationals and exposed the camping lifestyle to my kids.

So scenic, Huntington Lake has provided many great memories, but that all ended when California’s drought drained the lake. For the past two years, Fresno Yacht Club had been forced to cancel the event, but that all ended this year as the lake is back up to 98% capacity. Commodore Daniel Irwin was finally able to welcome the assembly to the 61st running of the Huntington Lake High Sierra Regatta.

“The High Sierra Regatta is our gift to the sailing community,” Irwin reported to The Fresno Bee. “It’s what we do that makes us worth being an organization. It’s our give-back purpose.”

Irwin admits the past two years have been rough on the club, which he says is down to about 20 active members. With Huntington Lake unavailable due to the lack of boat access, they’ve had to sail in other lakes where the wind conditions aren’t as consistent.

“It was a little bit like pushing a rope,” Irwin said. “There’s no heart for it. Everybody wants to be at Huntington.”

The two part regatta got started on July 9-10 with nine dinghy one-design classes, and will welcome fleets of trailorable keelboats for handicap and one-design racing on July 16-17.

Anybody like roasting marshmallows? Game on!

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