Islands Race begins 2022 offshore season
Published on January 16th, 2022
The Islands Race, a 142 nautical mile race around Catalina and San Clemente Islands hosted by San Diego Yacht Club and Newport Harbor Yacht Club, returns on February 25-26, making it the first offshore race of the year in Southern California. Starting off San Pedro and finishing in San Diego, the signature offshore event currently has an entry list of nearly 30 boats preparing for an overnight at sea.
With San Diego Yacht Club’s Puerto Vallarta Race to Mexico only two weeks following, many sailors use the Islands Race as a practice run for their vessels and crews. While the Islands Race can be considered an exercise for more intense offshore sailors, it is not without its own admiration for many others.
Aaron Wangenheim is sailing in the race for the first time with his Santa Cruz 52 City Lights. “We’ve been bringing City Lights back to race form, so we’ll be ready to experiment a lot – with sails, rig and crew. I have never done the Islands Race, but heard it’s a great event,” said Wangenheim.
While the course is pre-planned prior to the race, weather conditions have made alterations to the course in the past. “While we do not anticipate any changes in the race format from previous years, the yearly unknowns are what race day conditions will bring in terms of weather,” said Co-Chair Wayne Terry.
“With crew safety being of the utmost importance, should extreme weather conditions be in the forecast, the course could be altered to preclude rounding the islands. The organizing authority will typically make this call on race day.”
The Islands Race is the kickoff event for a full calendar of offshore races. One boat sailing in the Puerto Vallarta Race on March 10-18 is Ivan Batanov’s Zero Gravity.
“The Islands Race is the dress rehearsal for the PV Race – it has all navigation and tactical elements,” noted Batanov. “It’s also long enough to test the crew, boat, and equipment under varying conditions and gear changes while also being close enough to shore to allow for a margin of error.
“The Islands Race can bring a wide range of conditions – from very light to fresh and frightening and every point of sail. Tactical decisions can make or break the race while the straight-line legs test the boat and crew for speed. The finish in San Diego can be challenging and frustrating after sunset when the winds die. Choosing the right approach can make or break the race.”