SoCal’s Smooth Sailing

Now in its fifth year, the SoCal 300 is as popular as ever.

Velvet Hammer in the SoCal 300
Zachery Anderson's J/125 Velvet Hammer, puts the hammer down on its way south from Santa Barbara in the SoCal 300. Velvet Hammer's performance earned its place as the top boat in the three-event California Offshore Race Week.Sharon Green/Ultimate Sailing

With a record 38 boats having competed in 7 classes in the 2019 edition of the California Offshore Race Week, many Southern California boats use the race as a Transpac Race qualifier (must sail a 150nm race or passage in year prior to Transpac with a specified number of the same crew on board). Additionally, teams from Northern California make their way through the CA Offshore Race Week and conclude the series with the SoCal 300.

This year, the race had several international teams, including first-to-finish Alive (Phillip Turner’s RP 66), first in Class A and first overall corrected time Maverick (Quentin Stewart’s Infiniti 46R), Taurus (Barrington Darcy’s Farr 40) which sailed the CORW series but had to retire prior to the SoCal 300 with an issue with their boat). Next up for these two teams is the Transpac race, where they will compete in Division 1 against the heavy hitters such as record holder Comanche and two-time Barn Door winner Rio100.

The Santa Cruz 50/52 class has been a mainstay in the CA Offshore Race Week since the beginning. Dave MacEwen's Lucky Duck and Bill Helvestine's Deception have raced all four of the series since it began in 2016. This year in the Santa Cruz class, the series belonged to Michael Moradzadeh's Santa Cruz 50 Oaxaca, who was first in the Spinnaker Cup, second in Coastal Cup, first in the SoCal 300 and first in the Series for the SC class.

Michael Moradzadeh (Oaxaca): "The host clubs made everyone feel like a winner, but we were exceptionally pleased to collect trophies at each stop. The courses and conditions provided great opportunity for the Santa Cruz 50 and 52s to cash in on preparation and practice. Some exceptional crew members (Liz Baylis, Dee Caffari, and more) allowed us to sail to our potential. Even so, we were thrilled to wake up to discover we had corrected out at the top of the fleet [for the Series]."

Bill Helvestine (Deception): "As usual the SoCal 300 delivered a wide array of sailing conditions, from hours of close reaching in nearly 30 knots to hours of nearly becalmed sailing with a windseeker. The thing we enjoyed most was sailing throughout the race in a relatively close cluster of competitive boats. We usually knew where our competitors were, and there were close crossings and position changes throughout the race."

Alive
Phillip Turner's RP 66, Alive, from Hobart, Tasmania, uses the California Offshore Race Week as its Transpac tune-up.Sharon Green/Ultimate Sailing

The SoCal 300 Class B winner was John Raymont's Andrews 40 Fast Exit, in a highly competitive 11 boat class. Many of the same boats from Class B (Zero Gravity, Velvet Hammer, Cipango, Bretwalda3) will face off again in Transpac Division 3.

Zachery Anderson's J/125 Velvet Hammer had an incredible week competing in the full 3 race series and winning the overall CA Offshore Race Week title. They were in the series class against Maverick and Alive, chasing them down the coast all week long. In the end, the title was theirs as they had the best corrected time in the SoCal 300 of all series participants.

Zachery Anderson (Velvet Hammer): "The whole race week was ideal. Each race of the series provided different challenges and conditions. It was special to leave the San Francisco Bay and sail down the coast with the whales. For us, Coastal Cup was the highlight. The conditions were perfect for the J/125. We were up on the step for hours. It was spectacular to have sustained boat speeds in the teens and twenties all night. For the SoCal 300 we transitioned to five crew in the prep for our Transpac run this summer. The race was like a mini Transpac, big breeze and reaching off the coast then a nice downwind run. We went into this race as a tune up for Transpac and the first major offshore racing we have done on the J/125. I am so proud of the Velvet Hammer crew was able to win the CORW. We are going into Transpac with a full head of steam."

Don Jesberg raced the CA Offshore Race Week for the first time in 2019, in his Cal 40 Viva and racked up the trophies all week long. Viva won their class in the Spinnaker Cup, Coastal Cup, SoCal 300 and in the full CORW Series, and will line up against 6 other Cal 40s in this summer’s Transpac race.

Don Jesberg (Viva): "These regattas were our first races with Viva after acquiring the boat (originally Warpath) in November 2017. We have rebuilt the entire boat. I last raced a Cal 40 in the 2005 Transpac (Ralphie). I grew up sailing in various Cal boats. My father had a Cal 33 from 1972 to 1986. We raced that to Hawaii 3 times. The CORW series was an excellent opportunity to experience every possible wind and sea condition that we might experience in the upcoming Transpac 2019. We prefer the windy conditions of Pt Conception to the light air finishes in Santa Barbara and San Diego. The hospitality all week was outstanding. Thank you to all the clubs involved."

Class D was won by Joe Markee's Swede 34 Ohana, who came back in the final leg to edge out the Sparkman Stephens 67 Chubasco for the win.