Sailors Persist in California Offshore Race Week Despite Light Conditions on Second Two Legs

The race got off to a breezy start in the first leg near San Francisco before conditions slowed in the second two legs on the central and south coasts.

SANTA BARBARA— It was a record-setting year for the California Offshore Race Week, a three-leg series covering 549 nautical miles. The 2021 iteration of the series set records for the largest fleet signed up to complete the full series and for the longest amount of time spent on the SoCal 300 course.

The series kicked off with the Spinnaker Cup May 29 and 30, a race from San Francisco to Monterey. The race continued May 31 and June 1 with the Coastal Cup, a race from Monterey to Santa Barbara, and finished with the SoCal 300, a race from Santa Barbara to San Diego June 3-5.

For many teams, this race was the first opportunity to stretch their offshore racing sea legs in more than a year.

Thirteen teams were set to compete in the full series, the largest fleet to do so in the five-year history of the series, according to the race website. The 2021 California Offshore Race Week series winner was Jim and Kate Murray’s Pac52 Callisto. They were able to just edge out their Class A competition including Peligroso who came in second and Lucky Duck who came in third.

Race organizers reported a variety of conditions throughout the week, starting with great breeze sending vessels under the Golden Gate bridge. All 36 starters of the Spinnaker Cup finished the 88 nautical mile race in under 18 hours. Callisto held the best corrected time of 08:05:01 and was the first to finish.

“The highlight was undoubtedly reaching along the coast north of Monterey, where a fresh thermal breeze close to the shore gave us 27+ knots of TWS and allowed us to hit mid-20s boatspeed,” wrote Jim Murray of Callisto in thoughts shared with the race organizers and posted on the race website.

Breezy conditions gave way to light conditions during the second and third legs. Only 14 of the 23 entered vessels even attempted to start the second leg of the series, a 205 nautical mile race to Santa Barbara. Seven of the 14 starters retired. First to finish was Doug Baker’s Kernan 68 Peligroso with an elapsed time of 31:20:37, while Dave MacEwen’s Rogers 46 Lucky Duck won the race overall on corrected time. This year’s race was a much different race than 2019 when the first to finish was just under 15 hours and the slowest boat finished in the course in 27 hours.

Light conditions didn’t improve for the third and final leg, a 256 nautical mile stretch to San Diego through the Channel Islands. Thirty of the 33 entries started and 19 ended up retiring with just 11 finishers. Those who went on to battle the conditions to the finish line spent more time on the course than in any year past, according to the race website.

“We never seriously considered retiring from the SoCal 300. Most of the crew are veterans of the Chicago Mackinac Race,” wrote Murray. “The SoCal saw the same kind of drifting conditions that often occur during the ‘Mac’…without the biting flies! We were just excited to be out there as a team, logging hours on the boat and getting in practice hours ahead of the Transpac in July.”

First to finish and Class A winner for the SoCal 300 was Chris Sheehan’s Pac42 Warrior Won, sailing the course in 2:00:19:05.

“This was a great week of sailing coming after three days of breezy practice on San Francisco Bay,” wrote Murray. “It combined a bit of everything. A big breeze sprint, steady breezes and gorgeous scenery down the coast (the reach through the Channel Islands was particularly stunning) and a bit of Lake Michigan-like drifting further south. The parties along the way were a great break post quarantine. We look forward to returning…hopefully when the Pacific High is cranking.”

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