2015 Islands Race: That’s a Wrap

The 2015 Islands Race was unlike any other in the 6 year history of the event. With summer-like conditions on the west coast this March, all 34 boats finished (1 retiring after finish), and HL Enloe's Orma 60 trimaran demolished the course record by 3 hours, 19 minutes and 46 seconds. Despite being the only trimaran and sailing in their own class, Enloe's crew started 30 minutes behind the next fastest fleet and roared past all 33 competitors in just over the first hour of the race beating all boats to the first turn at the top of Catalina Island. Mighty Merloe became the first boat in the 6 years of the event to finish before midnight, on the same day as the start completing the course in 7 hours, 45 minutes and 42 seconds.

It always adds a layer of excitement to the Southern California offshore events to have one or more of these incredibly fast trimarans competing.

2015 HL Enloe Mighty Merloe Orma 60 07:45:42
2014 Tom Siebel Orion MOD 70 13:05:38
2013 Peter Tong OEX Santa Cruz 70 11:05:28
2012 Bob Lane Medicine Man Andrews 63 20:02:02
2011 John MacLaurin Pendragon VI Davidson 70 15:30:32
2010 Brad Avery Magnitude 80 Andrews 80 12:17:23

The other five fleets were divided among offshore sleds and production racers. Division 0 featured a five boat West Coast 70 fleet, with the Islands Race serving as a high point race on their annual calendar. The 70’s prefer to race under the Offshore Rating Rule (ORR) which provides a more data driven rating.  Ed McDowell’s Grand Illusion won the division, w/ Brack Duker’s Holua in second.

Division 1 (PHRF) brought 5 boats in the ‘very fast’ category ranging from Bob Lane’s always competitive Medicine Man (-93 PH) to Chris Hemans’ Rogers 46 Varuna (-33 PH). Hemans won the division by 5 minutes corrected (corrected time = 18:41:58) over Craig Reynolds TP 52 Bolt.

Varuna and Bolt were also 1st and 2nd overall in the 2015 Islands Race, the only 2 monohull competitors to have corrected times under 19 hours.

Hemans describes his favorite moments during the race:

“There was a submarine about 300 meters to weather of us on our beat to Santa Catalina Island – with the periscope up and headed right for us.  They dove out of sight and we never saw them again.

Hemans also shared what contributed to Varuna’s success:

“We played the wind shift well to Catalina Island, stayed near rhumb line between the Islands and made many sail changes between the A3, A2 and A1.  We caught a nice 30 degree lift with pressure about 5 miles from the finish that helped us get in before the wind dropped off. We have a new sail inventory for Transpac, and we’ve been spending a lot of time building our crossovers. And of course, luck.”

Division 2 (PHRF) grouped ten 50’ers from wonderful vintage Santa Cruz 50s like Flaca, classic sloop designs like the Tanton73 Velos and elegant productions like the J/160 Innocent Merriment.  Will and Dustin Durant’s SC 52 Relentless won this division by about 10 minutes corrected over 2nd place Horizon (John Shultz’s SC 50) the 3rd place Good Call (Tom Baker’s J/145).

Divison 3 (PHRF) featured seven 40’ers with a variety of J Boats (J/111, J/120, J/44, J/133) and other offshore designs.  Jeffry Coyle’s XP44 DistraXion won by 12 minutes corrected over 2nd place Glenn Griley’s J/111 Stampede.

For Peter Heck, crew member aboard DistraXion, who finished 18th overall, the Islands Race was one of “the most enjoyable trips I have ever made.” What made this particular regatta so special to Peter was “the moon coming up over San Clemente, the dry decks at night, the perfect windspeed and direction, smooth seas and clear skies.”

Division 4 (PHRF) had 3 boats with PHRF ratings in the 50’ - 80’ range. Ron Simpson’s Jeanneau SO44 Sleeper was first followed by Steve Ginder’s Jeanneau SO 45.2 Exit Strategy and Lawrence Andrews Columbia Sport Habanero in third.

It would be hard to find a more aptly-named boat than Thomas Hartmann’s Apprentice, a competitor in Division 4. Hartmann and Corey Kemp took on six members of the Newport Sea Base Youth Sailing Team as their crew. Tom Hartmann shared his favorite things about offshore racing.

“Offshore sailing, for me, is a chance to get out into the raw beauty of nature, from the power of the ocean to contemplating the heavens above.   There’s obviously the challenge of pushing yourself, against other competitors and yourself, but I find that what we do with the youth is to help them discover themselves and build their confidence."

"One of my favorite moments of the race was putting a 15-year old girl on the helm at 1:00AM after we turned the corner at San Clemente Island.  Her face beamed brighter than the full moon. Then we had a 16-year old on the helm at 2:00 AM and after a few minutes he picked up steering the boat in a following sea with a natural ability.”

The race committee coordinated with SCORE organization which manages the military live fire exercises on San Clemente and had to amend the course just prior to the start to include some virtual zones around the north and south ends of the San Clemente Island due to activity there.

The organizing authority would also like to thank the sponsors Douglas K Smith Marine Insurance, SD Boatworks, Reichel Pugh Yacht Design, and Downwind Marine Group for their loyal support and partnership of this offshore event as a part of the Offshore Series. The Bishop Rock Race in September and the Rum Runner Race in November will round out the Offshore Series.