2023 California Offshore Race Week

Published on June 3rd, 2023

Marc-Andrea Klimaschewski and the crew of the Dogpatch 26 Moonshine took overall honors for the 2023 California Offshore Race Week, a three-stage series on May 27-June 3 from San Francisco to San Diego. The individual race winners were Andy Schwenk on the Express 37 Spindrift V (Spinnaker Cup, 88nm), Ron Kell on the Express 27 Abigail Morgan (Coastal Cup, 204nm), and Kenny Kieding/ John Vincent on the J/125 Argo 4 (SoCal 300, 245nm). – Details

Report from San Diego Yacht Club:

The smallest boat takes the Series again. The 2023 California Offshore Race Week has concluded with Marc-Andrea Klimaschewski’s Dogpatch 26 Moonshine, the smallest boat in the fleet, earning the title of overall CORW winner. For the second year in a row, the little boat makes a big splash.

Klimaschewski said “All of us are very happy about the great result and we are proud to be representing the Pacific Northwest and following in the footsteps of our good friends on Pell Mell who won the series last year in another small, wooden boat.

“Being a small boat, we always try minimizing our distance sailed. We also push the boat as hard as we can, the sails and loads are very manageable so if we overdo it on the gas pedal, that’s usually an easy fix.”

Klimaschewski sailed with crew Molly Howe, Taylor Joosten, David Rogers, and Jake Newton. New for Moonshine was the final stretch of the Series, the SoCal 300. The team enjoyed going fast on a reach for an extended period of time. Their biggest challenge was during the Coastal Cup, with the light breeze during the first half of the race making it unclear if they could make the time limit. Run-ins with marine life added to the excitement!

The Spinnaker Cup was dominated by the Express 37s, who posted 3 of the best 4 corrected times including overall winner Andy Schwenk’s SpindriftV.

Schwenk said, “The start was interesting with a fair bit of tide and light winds. Standout moments included fresh sourdough bread at lunchtime and cherry cobbler for dessert after dinner. Lisa is a a galley wizard. Challenges included watching out for Moa-Moa (Sunfish), and of course the whales… everyone loves the whales!

“It was windiest just after sunset, maybe 22 knots. Express 37s are well suited for blazing downwind under spinnaker. Although we have broached during Bay races, we have never broached Spindrift V offshore after two runs to Hawaii.”

Just before the start of the Spinnaker Cup on Saturday, May 27, the MOD 70s Orion and Argo began their CA 500 race from SF Bay, around the Farallons to San Diego. Never straying more than 10 miles apart, the two completed the course in just over 30 hours, about an hour behind the course record set by MOD 70 Powerplay in 2019. The MOD 70s will have a 4-boat fleet this summer in the Transpac Race.

The forecast for the Coastal Cup as described in the pre-race briefing by Quantum Sails was for a particularly slow race and several competitors opted to skip the start this year. This left just 5 finishers taking between 37 to 50+ hours to finish the 205nm course.

The smaller boats in Class C corrected ahead of the Class A Santa Cruz 70 Westerly and Botin 65 Artemis, with Ron Kell’s Express 27 Abigail Morgan winning the race on corrected time. Kell sailed with crew Oliver Kell, David Crowe, and Seth Cohen – a crew that comes with offshore racing experience and time together on the boat.

Kell said, “We listened to [Quantum Sails’ Jeff Thorpe’s] weather reports and looked at Windy.com and came to the conclusion that we needed to go out at least 40 miles after Sur going to Santa Barbara.

Kell also described his experience sailing the full week-long series, “We had never been to San Diego and we certainly made a few tactical blunders. We weren’t prepared for it to be so freed up crossing the channel and were slow to set after passing the islands.

“The Series is definitely an endurance test. We were all very tired by the time we reached the entrance to SD Bay and with the added variable of the ebb, we lost a bit to the finish.

“I was impressed by how welcoming all of the clubs and people were. All of the participants were great people. Very, very fun event and I hope more people enjoy it in the future.”

Many competitors commented on the wildlife seen out in the ocean during racing this year’s Offshore Race Week. Alex Camet aboard Good Call shared seeing multiple whales, sunfish, dolphins and that it was particularly impressive during this year’s SoCal 300. Stan Fleming’s J/125 Nereid unfortunately slammed one of the sunfish with their keel causing enough damage to send them motoring back to shore.

Co-Skippers Ken Kieding and Jon Vincent, along with crew Gary Gordon, Tedd White, Bill Guilfoyle, and Cameron Biehl took the SoCal 300 title on the J/125 Argo 4.

The class featured four J/125s, with Daniel Murphy’s Javelin placing 2nd in class behind Argo 4 by about 25 minutes. Also joining the class in the Pacific was a 50′ whale, following along two boat lengths for a solid 20 minutes! “Super special,” Kieding said.

Kieding added, “Everyone [crew] has a ton of offshore experience and can do multiple positions on the boat, which was important to us. In true Argo 4 style, we found ourselves tying blocks and bolting stuff to the boat until the moment we left the dock, which really got the adrenaline going!

“We also hit a whale in the middle of the night, at full speed, just past Cortez Banks. (Hope he’s okay.) That stopped us for a minute, and the crew was definitely jolted awake. We pulled the floorboards, didn’t see any leaks, so kept racing.”

Next up for Argo 4 is the King Harbor Race and Long Point Race Week, which they have participated in for the past few years. Kieding and his crew also thanked the Santa Barbara Yacht Club for a great start, and San Diego Yacht Club for a warm welcome. The team plans on returning to the course next year!

Many of the SoCal 300 competitors were using the race as their 2023 Transpac qualifier race, and will be squaring up against each other again this summer on the race to Hawaii including TP 52 Saga and RP 51 Zero Gravity 51. Saga was first to finish in the SoCal 300, but was narrowly edged by Zero Gravity 51 for the Class A win.

The 8th California Offshore Race Week wrapped up in San Diego on Saturday June 3rd with SoCal 300 and Series awards for class and overall winners. San Diego YC along with co-hosting clubs St. Francis YC, Encinal YC, Monterey Peninsula YC, and Santa Barbara YC thank all the competitors for their participation and will look forward to another great series in 2024.

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