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Introducing the inaugural California Offshore Race Week

by Emily Willhoft 7 Apr 2016 09:13 BST 27 May - 4 June 2016
Register Now for California Offshore Race Week © Sharon Green / www.ultimatesailing.com

New for this year, the 2016 California Offshore Race Week will feature the combined efforts of Encinal Yacht Club, San Francisco Yacht Club, Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club, Santa Barbara Yacht Club and San Diego Yacht Club to produce a week-long schedule of races in a tour from Northern California to Southern California. The race will bring together three previously solo events: the Spinnaker Cup, the Coastal Cup and the SoCal 300 from May 27- June 4. In between races, the boats will have layover time along the coast to relax and meet up with friends and family.

Participants have the option of completing the entire week or they can choose to participate in individual races. There are currently 12 boats registered for all three legs of the race week, with additional boats doing individual segments. The rating spread is wide, ranging from boats like the TP52 and Reichel Pugh 63 to boats like the J-88, Express 37, O'Day 39 and Olson 911. Boats that compete in all three legs of the race will receive a battle flag, sponsored by North Sails, along with their race tracker in San Francisco prior to racing.

There are a number of new boats participating in this event, including Fox, which was finished being custom built this spring and Offshore Race Week will be one of the first events on its calendar. SoCal 300 event Chairman, David Servais, explains the history behind the creation of Fox as well as an outline of the team's characteristics.

"The TP52, Fox, is Victor Wild's new race yacht which he has had custom built by Cookson Boats in Auckland, New Zealand. Designed by Botin, this yacht will replace his existing TP52, Bud. The Fox team has been sailing together since 2011 when Victor first purchased Bud. The team consists mostly of amateur sailors, with a couple of pros mixed in. Sailing consists primarily of west coast based events, including the Fast 50 Class circuit, buoy races such as Yachting Cup, Long Beach Race Week and Big Boat Series, and coastal events such as Islands Race, Santa Barbara to King Harbor and Rum Runner. The team is very excited this year to be adding all three legs of California Offshore Race Week to the calendar."

Mike Price, owner and skipper of the O'Day 39, Peacemaker, is often the youngest skipper in local point-to-point and offshore races. He is enthusiastic for the first edition of the regatta and has some focused personal goals as well as goals for his core team, a group that usually averages the youngest crew age at 25 years old.

"Our goal for the race, of course, is to win. The team that wins California Offshore Race Week gets the title 'West Coast Offshore Champions' and that is something that my crew is quite excited about."

Similar to many of the competitors, cruising along the California Coastline is a major draw for Price. "The part of CORW that has me most excited is coming into new harbours after each leg. I love destination racing and being able to start and stop in new ports along the way will be a real thrill. I am looking forward to sailing into Monterey most of all."

In addition to the physical aspect of the race, the SoCal 300 leg is partnered with Sailonline, a website devoted to online race simulation. For the first time ever, participants can race the SoCal 300 online by "navigating" the race in a similarly competitive environment that mimics the actual race. For example, the start times, and course waypoints will remain consistent to the real race, making it a very realistic experience. This new feature will allow more people the opportunity to participate in the event since they will not need to physically be in a boat to partake in the action.

Competition seems to be a common theme in the actual and virtual races. Dave Macewen has previously competed in both the Spinnaker and Coastal Cups 3 times, and he won his first SoCal 300 just last year in his Santa Cruz 52, Lucky Duck.

"Of course we would love to win the overall race again, but we're expecting a good class. Boats like Prevail and Horizon have been tough competitors so far this year. It will be interesting to see how this year plays out since the race will be different, with more latitude. Another goal would be to have enough Santa Cruz 50s and 52s to have our own class."

The fee for entering the race increases by $50 on Tuesday, April 5. Anyone interested in entering the race should visit www.offshoreraceweek.com where the schedule and logistics pages are continuously updated to provide the most detailed information as possible to help competitors plan their week.

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