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San Diego hosts second event of the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series

by Sarah Renz 22 Mar 20:57 PDT March 25-27, 2022
The Etchells class is one of sailing's most competitive and is laden with national champions and top-level amateur sailors, producing close racing at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta © Mark Albertazzi

The waters off San Diego will be filled with racing sailboats this weekend, as the second event of the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series opens the Southern California racing season with three days of competition, March 25-27.

The current entry lists features more than 100 sailboats from nine different states as well as Mexico, in an array of keelboat and dinghy classes.

"San Diego has such a unique and vibrant sailing scene, which is why this regatta has been so popular for so long," said Dave Reed, Sailing World Magazine's editor in chief. "The ability for us to have reliable racing conditions on the bay and in the open ocean is what local and visiting teams appreciate. Our hosts at Coronado and San Diego yacht clubs always deliver a high-quality experience—on and off the water."

Racing kicks off on Friday, March 25, at 10 a.m., with the regatta's smaller boats, which will be spread across two racecourses set on South San Diego Bay. The bigger boats will take to the ocean off Point Loma on Saturday and Sunday and the North Sails Rally Race will send competitors on a low-key day-long course inside the bay on Saturday only.

Competing on the South Bay circle will be the Flying Dutchman class boats, 20-foot two-person speedsters once used in Olympic competition nearly 60 years ago. The Flying Dutchman will share one of the South Bay racecourses with Formula 18 Catamarans and International 14s, which will be racing as individual classes.

"It's been years since the area has hosted such a fleet of Flying Dutchman," says Doug Dommermuth, who sails his FD out of nearby Mission Bay. "We love sailing on South Bay. The winds are consistent and with the short chop it's a beautiful area to sail a Flying Dutchman."

The high-tech International 14s have become a fixture of the San Diego regatta's South Bay action. The double-trapeze dinghies do not require much wind to race at full-speed. Skippers and their crews are devoted to the care and maintenance of these crafts, which have been refined for more than a century and are now almost one-design (alike).

The 2022 edition of the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta in San Diego also marks the return of the Ultimate 20 class. Often referred to as the original sport boat, U20s are lightweight, sporty and trailerable keelboats. The U20s simplistic layout and handling makes it an ideal entry-level race boat and all except one team will travel from out of state to enjoy the ideal racing conditions of South Bay.

One of the larger fleets at the regatta will be the J/24s. Featuring mostly vintage boats from the late 1970s and early 1980s, the class has nearly tripled in entries from last year's San Diego event.

The J/105 division winner in 2021 was decided by a mere three points at the end of the five-race series, with local skipper Steve Cannon's "J-OK" (a three-time champion at the regatta) emerging as the top team. Such close actions has become the norm in Southern California and produces close scores and nip-and-tuck action on the racecourse. With decades of experience racing off Point Loma, Cannon and crew have mastered racing in the ocean swells. "It can be challenging conditions—especially when the big swells are running," Cannon says. "Part of that is the difficulty of driving in it."

The J/70 fleet this regatta in San Diego is comprised of entirely West Coast boats, including two from Mexico. Among the entry list of skippers is National Sailing Hall of Fame inductee, Dave Ullman, who has been racing in the area for over 50 years.

When the San Diego Regatta wraps up on Sunday, March 27, one class-winning competitor will be chosen to compete in the Helly Hansen Sailing World Caribbean Championship in October in the British Virgin Islands.

For more information on the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series events, visit www.sailingworld.com/regatta-series.

For comprehensive results, photos/videos and feature stories, visit www.sailingworld.com/regatta-series-san-diego.

For comprehensive results, visit www.yachtscoring.com.

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