Getting back to family racing

Published on April 26th, 2020

While normally a time of year when starting the sport is about prepping boats from winter storage and waiting for the weather to ripen, the 2020 season will be known for how to safely sail amid COVID-19 health guidelines. Champion sailor Morgan Larson shares how his local area is adjusting to the new normal.


Oregon was among the earliest US states to enforce strict restrictions during the current pandemic, and while boating was never restricted, organized sailing has been generally frowned upon. However, on Friday night a group of Hood River sailors enjoyed a casual “family race”.

Simple rules insured safety, with crew to be only family or people quarantined in your home, no after sailing gatherings, a reverse handicap “pursuit” style start to keep boats from getting close, and no spinnakers.

It was a perfect night to sail with your family and enjoy some competition in our local playground. Nine boats attended, ranging from a Tasar dinghy to a J/35, with participation including some of the region’s top sailing families – Newbrooks, Macks, Archbalds, Walshs, Couvreauxs…

It took me a bit longer to rig and launch the boat without my regular team, and while a bit late for the start (and missing the vang and cunningham – my bad), it felt so good to be back on the water and great fun with my daughter Lola and wife Christa sharing the helm and my son Taj doing the bow.

We had the best time and enjoyed an after race snack in the cockpit of our Moore 24. My guess is this format of racing will gain momentum, and long after this pandemic is behind us, we will see “family fun racing” at the forefront of our sport once again. Kudos to a few Hood River sailors for taking it on.

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