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J/Teams Silver in Southern California Islands Race - J/130 1st, J/111 2nd, & J/125 2nd

by J-Boats 19 Feb 22:02 GMT
2024 Islands Race © San Diego Yacht Club

The annual Southern California offshore and coastal racing season kicked off with the 2024 Islands Race, a coastal race co-hosted by Newport Harbor Yacht Club and San Diego Yacht Club since 2010. Featuring a 142.0nm course from San Pedro, around Catalina and San Clemente Islands, into San Diego for the finish, the Islands Race was sailed by 28 boats across six divisions this year.

The race was held earlier than usual due to its status as a feeder for San Diego YC's Puerto Vallarta Race, which was also moved up the calendar to a late February start to take advantage of the full moon! Twelve teams racing in the Islands Race will gear back up in two weeks to race to the Puerto Vallarta Race, along with 11 others.

With the race date such as it was, Islands Race competitors were left to ponder the weather superlatives raining down on the West Coast as the "atmospheric river", known as "the pineapple express" from Hawaii, prepared to "slam the west coast", and "swamp Southern California" with unprecedented storms. Well that happened in many places and a lot of water has fallen on California in the last ten days, much of it running off into the ocean. There was a USCG advisory to be on the lookout for debris in the water near shore. Without a doubt, competitors reported trees, poly ropes, and lots of plastic in the waters near the starting line!

But once offshore, the race benefitted from a classic, west-ish breeze driving competitors around the race track.

NHYC's Race Committee team aboard the Albert Soiland RC vessel checked in Friday morning off Point Fermin with conditions presenting a 4-6 kts breeze out of the east. Local knowledge knew this was atypical and left the RC to work through various starting plans.

The first of six warning signals was scheduled for 1225 hrs and the conditions quickly went into a transition in the hope of a prevailing westerly. The wind dropped to 1-2 kts from the south and a flooding tide would dictate starting line push on the fleet. Classes ORR F, E, and C had the unfortunate fallout of this breeze/weather transition leaving them with more tide than breeze on the starting line. This prompted the RC team to deploy the 'X' flag on two of those starters. Both teams had to fight back the tidal push to clear themselves to dial back in and shoot for the North Point of Catalina.

The competition between Ken Kieding & John Vincent's J/125 ARGO 4 and Lucky Duck in Class C was tight across the race course. Lucky Duck led by 4 miles at the turning mark, and was able to put an extra 2 miles of distance on ARGO 4 to win Class C by 24 minutes. Both boats sailed 159 miles to complete the course.

The tightest fleet appeared to be Class E, despite all 5 boats taking unique lines to the finish. With 15 miles to go, four teams had a chance to win the class from their different angles to the finish. But Dean Stanec's J/130 NIGHT'S WATCH was the only one to break through the morning breeze to the finish while the rest of the fleet competed for 2nd place.

With 50 miles to go in Class F, John Staff's J/111 OBSIDIAN, Outsider and Bloom County were all within 2 miles of each other in the early morning hours, with the class up for grabs. Bloom County had sailed an excellent first half of the race, projecting as a possible top-five contender until the wind shut down for them. The final 15 miles took several hours as each boat took a different angle to the finish. In the end, Staff's J/111 OBSIDIAN took a very hard-fought silver medal, missing out on the division win by a mere 2.5 minutes!!

Islands Race scoring and results available here.

For more Islands Race sailing information visit

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