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J/Teams win silver in Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race

by J/Boats 4 Aug 2019 04:40 PDT 26-27 July 2019
Santa Barbara-King Harbor Race 2019 © Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race

According to the winning skipper of the Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race, "It was a great race, good breeze in the high teens, low 20's, nice little waves to jump on, finishing the 81 mile race in a tad over 9 hours... we stayed slightly outside to King Harbor, stayed in pressure the entire 50 mile leg, got headed in perfectly and suddenly found ourselves atop the podium overall by a mere 22 seconds! Wow, what a thrilling finish!"

The Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race is a distance race spanning 81.0nm and has been a tradition for Santa Barbara and King Harbor sailors for 47 years. Seventy boats sailed the 2019 edition, of which 23% (16) are J/Teams.

The SB-KH is a deceptively simple race, since the tactics are pretty well understood by most teams. From the start line, sailing in a building northwesterly seabreeze, it is a straight shot on starboard tack to the bottom of the Channel Islands, with either Code Zeros or reaching spinnakers. The one and only turning mark is Anacapa Island, left to port. The principal issue is getting around the wind shadow of Anacapa before gybing and dashing off on port tack under spinnakers towards the infamous Point Dume (a.k.a. sometimes Pt Doom!) in the glittery, fashionable village of Malibu, CA. The reason why that strategy works is that late afternoon winds from the NW are significantly accelerated around that point due to the fact the seabreeze is getting sucked into the entire Los Angeles Basin (all pavement, black roofs, and desert mountains off to the east! Upon reaching Point Dume, most boats gybe back onto starboard tack and head for the finish line at the opening to King Harbor in Redondo Beach, just north of the gorgeous Palos Verdes peninsula.

As described above by the winning skipper overall, it was a "textbook" race. The most significant question was- "when do we gybe under Anacapa Island to avoid the wind cone and make the dash for Point Dume?" The gamblers that are willing to throw the dice and "go for it" gybe early and try to take an inside line underneath the island. But, there can be enormous holes that develop where boats have parked for hours and disappeared behind the fleet. The more conservative approach is to continue offshore on starboard until well clear of the dreaded "wind cone", then gybe onto port and head for the vicinity of Point Dume and the stronger, greatly accelerated winds curving around the giant bluff.

In the end, it was Dr. Laura Schlessinger's J/125 Warrior that nearly pulled off a perfect race on a perfect day of sailing. With breeze-on at the starting line, the smaller, faster, planing boats have a distinct advantage, as it's a spinnaker reach to the 4.0nm gap between Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island. The big boats have to chase them down and hope the smaller boats don't navigate the Anacapa "gap/ cone" scenario well! Dr Laura's veteran crew on Warrior sailed fast, completing the 81.0nm course in 8:13:48. That was good enough for first in ULDB B Class, but 22 seconds shy of PHRF Overall honors!

It was ULDB C Class that "cleaned" up overall. Three J/111s finished 3rd to 5th in class, with Kenny Kieding & John Vincent's Argo 3 leading the way, followed by Bernie Girod's Rock & Roll just one minute behind and Doug & Jack Jorgensen's Picosa just 30 seconds behind them! That was a very tight three-way battle between very well-sailed J/111s.

PHRF A Class saw two J/crews on the podium. Second was Scott Torrance's J/124 Forgiveness, followed in third by Tom & Terri Manok's J/120 Pole Dancer.

Similarly, in PHRF B Class, Jack Mayer's J/109 Zephyr took the silver. The J/105s occupied most of the top spots in PHRF C Class. Second was Dan Murphy's Cuchulainn, followed in third by Tom Bollay's Armida, fourth was Chuck Spear's Twelve Bar Blues. Then, rounding out the top five as Tom Hinkle's J/40 White Light.

A total of seven awards were handed out to happy J/Owners in the fleet of 69 keelboats in 9 PHRF racing classes - that's one-quarter of all podium silverware! More Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race sailing information here.

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