California offshore season begins with Islands Race

Published on January 16th, 2023

Kicking off Southern California’s offshore racing season in 2023 is the 142 nm Islands Race, co-hosted by San Diego Yacht Club and Newport Harbor Yacht Club. Starting February 24, the course starts from Long Beach Harbor and extends around Santa Catalina and San Clemente Islands before finishing at San Diego.
 
Last year’s running of the event saw the biggest turnout in its history with 42 boats registered. In the current lineup is 2021 overall winner, Antrim 27C ‘io, owned by Hill Blackett III, and the 2019 winner RP 52 Vitesse owned by Thomas Furlong.
 
“There are no winter ocean races in the San Francisco Bay Area,” explained Blackett. “The Islands Race is a well-run event with good competition, beautiful scenery, and a classic overnight course. We will race with a minimum crew of four. Getting everyone to take turns for a bit of below-deck rest during the day and early evening is key to having fresh drivers and energy during the night.”
 
Blackett and his crew are also planning on racing in the 2023 California Offshore Race Week on May 27-June 3.
 
For many, the Islands Race is the first of many offshore races through the spring season in Southern California. Two weeks after the Islands Race is Newport Harbor Yacht Club’s Cabo Race. About half of the Islands Race entry list is also registered for the Cabo Race, making it not only a competitive race in its own right, but also great practice for the sail to Mexico.
 
Also on the calendar this year is the biennial Transpac Race, beginning June 27. A number of Islands Race and Cabo Race competitors are already on the roster for this summer staple, including David Clark’s Santa Cruz 70 Grand Illusion, second in class in the 2011 Transpac.
 
“Offshore Racing is a competitive and physical team sport where the crew works hard together for many days in a confined environment dealing with the elements to maximize boat speed, perfect maneuvers, and sail smart to outdo the competition,” said Clark. 

“On the other hand, it is a serene experience. It’s a complete escape from routine daily life, free from phones and news, and far from land. It’s an opportunity to make lifetime memories while enjoying great camaraderie, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, nighttime skies filled with stars, and witness marine life at its best.”
 
Those who have done the race before can expect a race format similar to previous years. Competitors are required to comply with the US Sailing Safety Equipment Requirements including a Safety at Sea seminar. The Sail Aweigh Safety at Sea course is still available: https://sailaweigh.org/course-details.php?course=72

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