Perfect time to consider something new

Published on September 30th, 2019

In the October issue of Harken’s At The Front, West Coast USA Sales Manager Rusty Rutherford has a suggestion for regatta organizers.

As summer turns to fall, it’s a good time to look back at your summer regatta schedule and look at the turnout. We’re sailors here at Harken, and we love our sport. So we hope participation broke all of your historical records. If that didn’t happen, there’s been talk around the Harken beer machine about what can be done.

Our advice: Zag when you would normally zig. Use autumn to take a crazy regatta flyer. Dream up something new.

A dozen windward-leeward courses with an offset and a leeward gate is many people’s idea of the best way to separate the best from the rest. But to others, a two hour race around 13 different marks involving the diverse currents of two rivers and the stage of the tide is a much more interesting. We think the following events are on to something:

• The Chicago Yacht Club recently organized an event with an innovative format, called simply The Chicago Regatta. Entry fee, no. Charitable donation, yes. There were course racing and distance race options. Integrated was an RC fleet, even a competitive event for power boaters. What happened? 400+ people showed up at the party and TONS of money was donated. It was a fresh idea.

• For 29 years, the Delta Ditch Run has been a wonderful way for San Francisco Bay Area sailors to start the summer sailing season. Classically, it’s 68 miles of downwind upriver blasting, through an ever-narrowing race course. It’s a grand tradition by now, but there’s not a leeward gate or an offset mark in sight. That’s different. Last June, 109 boats participated.

• The Race to Alaska has been called the ultimate endurance challenge. This one is 750 miles from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska. Orcas? Maybe. Motors? Absolutely not. There were 50 entries last year. Paddling. Rowing. SUPing. Sailing. You can’t mention the R2AK without mentioning the prizes: 1st place, $10,000 if you can get the nail out and get it down. 2nd prize, a pretty good set of steak knives. Crazy? Maybe in a life-changing sort of way.

• At first blush, The Dinghy Race may look conventional. After all, it’s sailed in possibly the most familiar boat in junior sailing, the Club 420. But then it gets…different. Participants sail a 20 mile distance race modeled after a famous around the world race. There’s live streaming video drone footage. And there’s real-time GPS tracking. Last year, 38 teams participated in this soon-to-be classic around Fisher’s Island Sound in Connecticut. Delightfully atypical! The kids we talked to loved it.


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