When California Waters Become a Racing Playground

The Southern California sailing spring calendar is officially in full bloom for the 2016 season. The 130nm Islands Race ( takes off on March 11, and is SDYC’s first US based offshore race of the year; followed by the SoCal 300 in May and the Rum Runner race in October.

This is the seventh year that San Diego Yacht Club will partner with Newport Harbor Yacht Club for the Islands Race. The race will showcase impeccable scenery alongside the California coast as competitors start in Long Beach Harbor, navigate around the Santa Catalina and San Clemente Islands, before completing the race in Point Loma in San Diego.

Over 30 boats are expected to compete, ranging from 29-70 feet in length. Among them are a handful of sleds, several pole boats, and numerous displacement boats of varying lengths, plus one powerful trimaran. The smallest boat in the line-up thus far is Blue Flash, a J/88 at 29 feet while the two sleds, an Andrews 70, Pyewacket, and an SC70, OEX, are the largest. Pyewacket skipper Roy Disney from Waikiki Yacht Club will return to California for the Islands Race after having recently competed in the 2016 Puerto Vallarta offshore race where they finished second overall in the 21 boat event. Without a doubt, the fastest boat in the fleet will be the multihull Mighty Merloe, a 60 foot trimaran. Mighty Merloe will be focused on improving their elapsed time record from last year, which was a speedy 7 hours, 45 minutes, 42 seconds.

The overall monohull 2015 Islands Race winner was Varuna, a 49 foot Rogers, skippered by Chris Hemans from Balboa Yacht Club. Varuna’s corrected time was 18 hours and 41 minutes. The fleet finish was fairly tight last year with most of the 33 boats finishing with a corrected time between 19 and 22 hours.

Skipper Paul Casanova of South Bay Racing Yacht Club has participated in the race each year since its inaugural start in 2010. Casanova won the first year’s race on Flaca, an SC50, and has high hopes for the 2016 race, this time in a different boat, Flaquita, a Reichel/Pugh 44.

"We won the race the first year on Flaca, came in second once, and now with Flaquita, we are hoping to win again. It’s a fun race that can have several different conditions. It would be great if we get a lot of boats competing and have good winds.”

Wayne Terry, SDYC Staff Commodore, is co-chairing the race along with Daniel Geissmann from Newport Harbor Yacht Club. Terry is enthusiastic for this year’s race in describing his expectations and hosting the awards ceremony at SDYC.

“As we look forward to the 2016 Islands Race we hope for similar circumstances to those that were experienced in 2015 – perfect weather and excellent conditions resulting in an awesome race. I would like to remind all competitors that SDYC will host the award’s ceremony on the front deck at 3:00 p.m., Saturday, March 12th, with hosted roast beef sliders, pasta salad, etc. beginning at 2:00 pm. Sail fast and have a safe, fun race!”

Newport Harbor Yacht Club will kick off the race festivities with a welcome reception at their club prior to the race start. They will then pass the hospitality torch to San Diego Yacht Club who will host the awards ceremony on Saturday afternoon on the clubhouse main deck.

The sailing community, friends and family can follow along with the action throughout the event by tuning in to the Yellow Brick Tracking website at