HomeSAILINGOffshore Islands Race Offers Competitive Sailing and Serene Experiences

Offshore Islands Race Offers Competitive Sailing and Serene Experiences

Offshore Islands Race

Each January, the turn of the new year marks the month when you can finally break out your planners, call your racing buddies, and mark your vacation days for Southern California’s much-anticipated, offshore racing season.
Kicking off the season in 2023 once again is the Islands Race, co-hosted by San Diego Yacht Club and Newport Harbor Yacht Club. On February 24, over 30 boats are expected to race, departing from Long Beach Harbor and making their way around Santa Catalina and San Clemente Islands before finishing in Point Loma. The total course measures approximately 142nm. What better way to spend a weekend in February than with a view of the Pacific for miles, a chilled ocean breeze, and well-earned bragging rights at the finish line?

Last year’s running of the event saw the biggest turnout in its history with 42 boats registered. For 2023, 20 boats are currently registered and preparing for the overnight journey, but there is still time to join in on the adventure. In the current lineup is 2021 overall winner, Antrim 27C ‘io, owned by Hill Blackett III and 2019 winner, RP 52 Vitesse, owned by Thomas Furlong.

Blackett said, “There are no winter ocean races in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Islands Race is a well-run event with good competition, beautiful scenery, and a classic overnight course. We will race with a minimum crew of four. Getting everyone to take turns for a bit of below-deck rest during the day and early evening is key to having fresh drivers and energy during the night.”

Blackett and his crew are also planning on racing in the California Offshore Race Week, May 27-June 3, 2023.

For many, the Islands Race is the first of many offshore races through the spring season in Southern California. Two weeks after the Islands Race is Newport Harbor Yacht Club’s Cabo Race. About half of the Islands Race entry list is also registered for the Cabo Race, making it not only a competitive race in its own right, but also great practice for the sail to Mexico.

Also on the calendar this year is the biennial Transpac Race, beginning June 27. A number of Islands Race and Cabo Race competitors are already on the roster for this summer staple, including David Clark’s Santa Cruz 70 Grand Illusion, second in class in Transpac 2021.

Clark said, “Offshore Racing is a competitive and physical team sport where the crew works hard together for many days in a confined environment dealing with the elements to maximize boat speed, perfect maneuvers, and sail smart to outdo the competition. On the other hand, it is a serene experience. It’s a complete escape from routine daily life, free from phones and news, and far from land. It’s an opportunity to make lifetime memories while enjoying great camaraderie, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, nighttime skies filled with stars, and witness marine life at its best. As for the Islands Race, it’s an event that packs all the elements of an offshore race into a quick overnight race.”

Those who have done the race before can expect a race format similar to previous years. With safety at the helm of any race, especially offshore, competitors are required to comply with the US Sailing Safety Equipment Requirements including a Safety at Sea seminar. While the Islands Race is designed to be a thrilling offshore experience, the main goal is to return to San Diego safely.  The Sail Aweigh Safety at Sea course is still available here.

Competitors are invited to enjoy a pre-race social at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club on Thursday, February 23 at 1800. After the race, an awards ceremony will be held at the San Diego Yacht Club on Saturday, February 25 with prizing provided by Helly Hansen.

You can follow the race by tuning in to the YB Tracking race tracker display, showing real time position updates every 15 minutes, accessible from

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