Anticipation Builds for the 2017 Islands Race

Sailors all over Southern California are eagerly preparing for one of San Diego Yacht Club’s signature offshore races. The 130nm Islands Race begins on February 24, and is SDYC’s first offshore race of 2017. Following the Islands Race is the SoCal 300, the final event of California Offshore Race Week, in May and the Rum Runner race in October.

For the eighth year, San Diego Yacht Club will partner with Newport Harbor Yacht Club for the Islands Race. The popular course features genuine sea breezes and deep blue ocean swells. Competitors will depart from the Long Beach Harbor and head west of the Santa Catalina and San Clemente Islands for some of Southern California’s best sailing before they finish the regatta in San Diego’s Point Loma.

Over 30 boats are expected to compete, ranging from 33-70 feet in length. The smallest boat entered so far is BAZINGA, a Hobie 33 while two Santa Cruz 70s, Grand Illusion and Holua, and Pyewacket, an Andrews 70, are the largest.

In the multihull division, Mighty Merloe, a 60 foot trimaran, will likely be the first boat to finish the Islands Race. The 2016 course was shortened due to storms throughout Southern California, but if the weather cooperates this year, Mighty Merloe will focus on improving their elapsed time record from 2015, which was a brisk 7 hours, 45 minutes, and 42 seconds.

The overall monohull Islands Race winner for the past two years Varuna, a 46 foot Rogers, skippered by Chris Hemans from Balboa Yacht Club. Varuna’s corrected time was 6 hours, 55 minutes and 44 seconds on the shortened course.

Skipper Tim Fuller from San Diego Yacht Club has participated in the Islands Race numerous times on his J/125, Resolute. Fuller plans to use the complexities of the Islands Race to prepare for the Transpac in July.

"The Islands Race does have its challenges. First is lane positioning on the long drag race from LA around the west end of Catalina Island in a typical westerly breeze. Second is navigating the exclusion zones outside of San Clemente Island, and third is tactically anticipating the wind fill and direction on the last leg to Point Loma.”

After narrowly missing the overall title last year by a margin of just one minute, Fuller has his eyes set on the overall title for 2017.

Wayne Terry, SDYC Staff Commodore, is once again co-chairing the race along with Daniel Geissmann from Newport Harbor Yacht Club. Terry is ready to host another iconic offshore race with a celebration for competitors after finishing the race.

"The annual Islands Race, now in its 8th year, is a normally well-attended event, co-sponsored by the San Diego and Newport Harbor Yacht Clubs. As of this writing, the fleet numbers 25 competitors in what should be another fun and challenging event, and a tune-up precursor to this year’s Cabo and Transpac Races. While the 2016 Island’s Race experienced somewhat of a weather anomaly, which drove an early morning race day decision to sail the inside course, we hope 2016 was just that – an anomaly. The Island’s Race is one of those events where the sailing offices at the respective clubs deserve all the kudos- they do the heavy lifting. On behalf of the organizing authorities, we hope everyone participating in this year’s event enjoys a fun, fast and most importantly, safe race."

SDYC will host the award ceremony on the clubhouse main deck at 3pm on Saturday, February 25 with food and drinks for competitors starting at 2pm.

Friends, family, and the sailing community can follow the race by tuning in to the Yellow Brick Tracking website at