Preview: 2020 Islands Race

Published on January 23rd, 2020

San Diego Yacht Club and Newport Harbor Yacht Club’s Islands Race is making it’s way to the starting line on February 21-22, 2020. Returning to the sea for it’s 11th annual running, this signature event is expecting over 25 boats to race the 134nm course from Long Beach, California, around offshore landmarks Santa Catalina Island and San Clemente Islands, and then to finish off Point Loma in San Diego.

For many, the Islands Race kicks off start of the 2020 Offshore Racing Calendar and doubles as a shakedown for San Diego Yacht Club’s Puerto Vallarta Race or the Newport Harbor Yacht Club Cabo Race on alternate years.

With the race only involving one night at sea, it works as the perfect opportunity to gain offshore experience. “Islands Race is our final check before PV20 and we are preparing for it as we would any other major offshore regatta, with safety gear, boat preparation, weather planning, communication, et cetera,” explained Zero Gravity’s Ivan Batanov.

Newcomer Andrew Wescoat, sailing J/109 Harm’s Way, has an array of offshore races planned after the Islands Race and looks forward to spending some time on the west coast. “This is our first Islands Race. We’re bringing Harm’s Way from Texas to California to race in a number of offshore events between February and June.

“Over this past summer, we’ve been sailing in a number of offshore events in the Gulf of Mexico, so we’re really looking forward to this chance to sail with everyone in California.”

Last year’s overall winner was Thomas Furlong in Vitesse. Furlong commented on last year’s race. “One of the challenging aspects occurred before the race, as the forecast called for a lot of wind and big seas with a right shift coming across the course at some point. The challenge became what sails to take as the reach over the top of Catalina towards San Clemente was either going to take a bit of time, or be quite quick.”

Roy Disney’s Pyewacket placed second in 2019. Pyewacket’s crew can attest to some of the challenges of the Islands Race. “I’ve done this race about five times, and it seems to always be a challenge,” started Pyewacket’s Robbie Haines.

“There’s either lots of wind, or tricky navigational issues. Rounding San Clemente Island is very tactical, especially on the East End. We always seem to finish early morning off Point Loma with interesting transitions to stay in the wind on our way in.”

The Islands Race is reserved for yachts no less than 29 feet, and often fields a variety of boats from Andrews 70’s to TP52’s to Beneteaus, J Boats and more.

Competitors can enjoy a pre-race social at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club on Thursday, February 20 at 1800. After the race, an awards ceremony will be held at the San Diego Yacht Club on Saturday, February 22 at 1500.

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Source: SDYC

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