Inaugural California Offshore Race Week


New for this year, the 2016 California Offshore Race Week featured the combined forces of five yacht clubs along the California coast to produce a week-long schedule of offshore racing.

The race brought together the Spinnaker Cup, Coastal Cup and SoCal 300 from May 27 – June 5. In between races, the boats had enough layover time in each port to make modifications to their boats for the next legs, participate in beer can races, return to work or just meet up with friends and family.

Beginning on May 27, 58 boats competed in the 88nm Spinnaker Cup from San Francisco to Monterey. This was followed on May 30 by 27 boats participating in the 200nm Coastal Cup from Monterey to Santa Barbara. The finale on June 3 was the SoCal 300 taking 27 teams along the 254nm course from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

The fleet experienced increasingly lighter winds coming down the coast, which foreshadowed expectations going into the SoCal 300. Forecasts were predicting a massive high pressure system to stall on the coast and push the much sought after Pacific trade winds even further out to sea.

The light conditions caused 2 of the 29 boats registered for the SoCal 300 to drop out even before the race began, while several also retired during the race to return to Santa Barbara and San Francisco Bay.

The race started in about 2-4 knots of wind which stayed light until boats were able to clear the Santa Cruz Channel where there was slightly more pressure, but nothing too significant.

A crew member on Prevail (SC 52) described the race as “brutal” in one word. “It was a challenging race because the wind never got going. The fog was extremely dense, with maybe only 100 feet of visibility. The toughest part was getting out of the Santa Cruz Channel. Because of these factors, it took us an extra 12 hours to complete the race this year compared to last year.”

Bill Helvestine, skipper on Deception (SC 50), was trapped in the lee between the two Santa Cruz Islands. “We made the decision to put our anchor down at one point because we weren’t certain where the currents would take us. We didn’t want to hit a rocky point and be forced to turn the engine on. So we dropped anchor next to a Cal 40, which looked like a complete ghost ship in the distance because of the fog.”

Seventeen teams competed in all three events that comprised the inaugural California Offshore Race Week. Horizon (SC 50), skippered by John Schulze from Balboa Yacht Club, took first place in the overall Race Week standings.

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