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Scuttlebutt News Center:

Best Racing Venues in the US

(June 16, 2004) The sport of sailing relies on wind, which often is not there when the big event comes to town. Ever heard, "It's never like this"? Well maybe sometimes it is. Scuttlebutt was curious which racing venues could keep an event on schedule, so we posed the question to our panel of experts as to what sailing venues provided the best racing conditions.

What makes a great venue? Steady year-round conditions is a start, but can any site get through all 12 months? Warm air and water temperatures are also a plus, as is ease of access and accomadating facilities. A lack of pollution and weeds/kelp factors in too.

But when it comes to attending an event, being able to sail everyday in dependable wind conditions ranks highest. Maybe not each venue listed is best for all types of boats, or every size of event. But if given the choice, the list may provide some insight as to what venues will keep us racing, not waiting.

Very Popular:

  • Long Beach, CA (map / comments)
  • San Francisco, CA (map / comments)
  • Miami, FL (map / comments)
  • Newport, RI (map / comments)
  • Buzzards Bay, MA (map / comments)
  • Honolulu, HI (map / comments)
  • Key West, FL (map / comments)
  • Very Good But Overlooked:

  • Corpus Christi, TX (map / comments)
  • Ft Lauderdale, FL (map / comments)
  • Santa Cruz, CA (map / comments)
  • Still Good Options:

  • Block Island, RI (map)
  • Clearwater, FL (map)
  • Fort Walton, FL (map / comments)
  • Gorge, WA (map / comments)
  • San Diego, CA (map)
  • Wrightsville Beach, NC (map / comments)
  • Best Neighboring Venue:

  • Kingston, ONT, Canada (map / comments)

  • Scuttlebutt's Panel of Experts*
    Gary Bodie
    Kevin Burnham
    Peter Commette
    Peter Isler
    Gary Jobson
    Philippe Kahn
    Chris Larson
    Zack Leonard
    Rick Merriman
    Ken Read
    Mark Reynolds
    Hannah Swett
    George Szabo
    *The list of venues does not reflect the proferences of each panelist. A list of preferred venues was contributed by each panelist, which was then categorized based on the number of times a venue was nominated. Not all judges provided comments.
    Back to top

    Long Beach, CA
    * July-Sept, good breeze 12-18kts, plenty of sunshine. Water a little cool. No storms to worry about. - Rick Merriman
    * Great moderate breeze and fairly reliable - Zack Leonard
    * Dependable moderate winds pretty much year round. Great place to develop boat speed. - Mark Reynolds
    Back to list

    San Francisco, CA
    * Best in late summer. Turn on the fans and do 100 tacks up the city front. Great fun. - Ken Read
    * June to September. Water is Pacific cold, but the wind cranks. Waves are fun. St. Francis Yacht Club sets the standard for hosting regattas. Richmond Yacht Club hosts a good regatta, too, and is just off the Berkley Circle, behind Angel Island, which presents you with some nice choices for setting courses. - Peter Commette
    * Great sailing but bring your woolies, drysuits, wetsuits, sweaters, etc. - Kevin Burnham
    * Summer only - Peter Isler
    * Good breeze but one way course due to current is kind of limiting - Zack Leonard
    * Best in the summer for dependable strong thermal winds; a beautiful venue. - Mark Reynolds
    Back to list

    Miami, FL
    * Best in the winter for the warm air/water, normally breeze-on but also just a good assortment of wind and water conditions as well. - Mark Reynolds
    * Feb-Apr, warm air temps of 65-85 deg, water temp 75 deg, nice sea breeze 10-20kts. plus you can race in the ocean or race in the bay. Plenty of options. Great places to go after sailing also. - Rick Merriman
    * Biscayne Bay all year, but from May to October you can get some seaweed and afternoon storms. February through April are my favorites with good breeze, water about 74 degrees and good chop. My two favorite clubs for hosting regattas there are Coconut Grove Sailing Club and Coral Reef Yacht Club. Each is extremely friendly to competitors and has capable RC personnel. - Peter Commette
    * Check water and air temperature out on a year round basis. Nothing else comes close. Check out the facilities to run regattas. Miami could host the ISAF World Championships like Cadiz. Restaurants galore. Water colors. Every hue of BLUE. Yesterday on Biscayne Bay we saw two new born porpoises swimming next to our boat. We followed a Tiger Ray along the flats. Saw a Sea Turtle swimming along. Where else do you see that with a City Skyline? - Kevin Burnham
    * Fall, Winter and Spring only. - Peter Isler
    * My favorite place in the US from Oct to March. - Zack Leonard
    Back to list

    Newport, RI
    * Tons of nooks and crannies. Tide, wind, scenic, great facilities, not always the best breeze in late summer. - Ken Read
    * Ditto for neighboring Bristol, RI - Hannah Swett
    * Bristol and Newport are both amazing places with great sailing communities and almost perfect summer sailing. - Zack Leonard
    Back to list

    Buzzards Bay, MA
    * Buzzards Bay in the summer, beating out Little Egg Harbor, NJ, for similar conditions for but lacking the seaweed and Green Heads (nasty, bite you to the bone flies). You can have a little bit of anything, but it's mostly breeze on and a nice chop. Water's not too cold, about 68 to 70 degrees. Beverley Yacht Club hosts a very good regatta -- good parties, well catered, and it has many capable members qualified for both RC and Jury duty. - Peter Commette
    * Strong winds. Also good is Hyannis, MA on the cape for big breeze and huge waves. - Zack Leonard
    Back to list

    Honolulu, HI
    * 22 knots daily. Big waves. T shirts and shorts. Easy #1. - Ken Read
    * Ditto! - Rick Merriman
    * My experience is that this is one of two places where we can sail about every day of the year and have great conditions (the other is Santa Cruz, CA). That's how and where we train. We very rarely miss a single day! Click here to see for yourself. - Philippe Kahn
    Back to list

    Keywest, FL
    * Like Miami, but harder to get to. - Rick Merriman
    Back to list

    Corpus Christi, TX
    * Mar-June, really great breeze, pretty warm water and air temps. - Rick Merriman
    Back to list

    Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    * Same as Miami, warm weather and water, nice sea breeze. - Rick Merriman
    * Sailing off of Ft. Lauderdale is the most challenging and fun of all the sailing I've done in the continental US. You can have any condition any time of the year, except it usually has a light sea breeze and storms in the summer in the afternoon from June to October. The only problem is getting out the inlet. You have to plan to go out with the tide and come in with the tide or be towed. Water is always warm, usually bathing suit weather year-round. Waves are outstanding. Playing around in the inlet riding waves during a frontal system in the winter can be a death defying but exhilarating experience. Lauderdale Yacht Club runs a great regatta in every sense of the word. - Peter Commette
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    Santa Cruz, CA
    * The poor water temp is way overcome by the breeze and swell that is comparable only to Buzios, Brazil and Australia. - Zack Leonard
    * My experience is that this is one of two places where we can sail about every day of the year and have great conditions (the other is Honolulu). That's how and where we train. We very rarely miss a single day! Click here to see for yourself. - Philippe Kahn
    Back to list

    Fort Walton, FL
    * The beaches there have the nicest sand in the world. - Zack Leonard
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    Gorge, OR
    * A really unique and cool place. Natural beauty, lots of outdoor sports, a reliable breeze. I can see why all the really great sailors from Seattle trek down there to sail a lot. - Zack Leonard
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    Wrightsville, NC
    * Good from March through November. Dead of winter would be too cold for anybody other than hardcore. Base out of Carolina YC. - Gary Bodie
    Back to list

    Kingston, ONT
    * This place rules in the summer, awesome breeze, really fun town, great campsite and more prisons than you can shake a stick at. - Zack Leonard
    Back to list

    The George Szabo Theory: There is a 'Sailing vs off-the-water activity equation' that I have been researching for many years now. My observations are that: The better the sailing venue, the smaller amount of free/good beer and food given out on land. The worse the sailing venue, the more good/free food, beer and parties on land. Fortunately not all the data points fit, and there are events out there with both good sailing and fun off the water. Still collecting data.
    Back to panel
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