The Dutch Shoe Marathon Celebrates 50 Years

SAN DIEGO— The San Diego Yacht Club and Coronado Yacht Club have co-hosted the summer’s staple Sabot race, the Dutch Shoe Marathon, for five decades. Over 150 junior and senior Sabot sailors sailed from La Playa (SDYC) to Glorietta Bay (CYC) to celebrate this special anniversary this year.

This event proves successful as it enters its 50th year, an achievement not many regattas have claimed. If you ask San Diego Yacht Club natives, you might hear the phrase “rite of passage.” You might catch a story about generations sharing in the tradition or parents making on-the-water memories with their little ones. To honor the anniversary, the regatta is sporting a new theme this year – the 70s. There will be tie-dye tees and groovy Dutch Shoe prizes.

“The Dutch Shoe is a rite of passage for new sailors—regardless of their age—and a reminder of the simpler things in life for those of us who are a little older,” said SDYC Director Alli Bell. “There’s nothing quite like being part of the pilgrimage of more than 100 8-foot boats sailing down the Bay. Anyone near the water that day notices that it brings our sabot community closer and is a good ambassador for the sport.”

Most SDYC juniors describe the race as “long.” And it is. For many, it’s the longest race they’ve done yet and from one destination to another, instead of their normal buoy racing during the program. A typical Dutch Shoe Marathon takes about two hours, depending on the breeze. In these two hours, sailors experience new San Diego Bay conditions, fishing boats, large Navy vessels, general traffic, and the view from underneath the Coronado Bridge. Over the years, the course has stayed relatively the same— a testament to the popularity and success of the event.

The regatta is again split into four divisions this year: A, B, and C fleets and Seniors. Last year, Ronan Servais in C Fleet earned first place.

Last year’s winner Ronan Servais gave essential advice for new Dutch Shoe sailors, “Don’t look behind you. Look forward. And don’t focus on other people,” said Servais.

There are a lot of distractions on the Dutch Shoe course, and it’s crucial to stay focused and sail your race if you want to finish on the podium.

This year, similar to prior editions of the event, the Awards Ceremony and post-race social are held at Coronado Yacht Club, where sailors will be awarded the classic red Dutch shoes for the following categories: a 1st-5th place of Senior, A, and B fleets; 1st-10th place of C fleet; 1st Doublehanded; 1st to Finish; 1st to Weather Mark; 1st to Capsize; Predicted Log aka Juan Rodriguez Award; and the Secretary of the Navy award.

The special award this year is the Best Dressed 70s Sailor. The Best Dressed winner will take home a unique 70s edition of the Dutch Shoe. Sailors, family members, and spectators will enjoy a BBQ paired with a DJ playing the best hits from the 70s.

Spectators are encouraged to come out on the water for this one-of-a-kind event and cheer on the colorful fleet of sailors. The race is set to begin in La Playa Cove at 12 p.m.

Julie Servais is thrilled to be co-chair of this special anniversary. “We invite all sailing enthusiasts, families, and spectators to join us in celebrating this extraordinary milestone of the 50th Dutch Shoe Marathon,” she said in the press release. “The Dutch Shoe is not just a race. It’s a cherished tradition, a rite of passage, and a unifying event for our sabot community. Come witness, the determination, skill, and camaraderie of over 150 junior and senior Sabot sailors as they navigate the challenging course and make memories that will last a lifetime. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of history in the making on Friday, July 21, starting at 1200 in La Playa Cove. See you there!”

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