Something special happened over the Labor Day Holiday Weekend
Billed as a simple North-South Regatta hosted by theSanta Barbara Harbor 20 Fleet, the 3 days became transformed into a magical event. Sailors and their friends who joined in on the fun will fondly recall the festivities for years to come as lifetime friendships were kindled.
After the Newport Fleet graciously hosted the event in 2012, Santa Barbara returned the favor at this year’s event hosted by the Santa Barbara Yacht Club. These sailors were determined to exceed Newport’s hospitality from the previous year.
Harbor 20 sailors revel in the chance to travel north along the coast to enjoy a weekend of fast sailing, fine wine, and fabulous parties.
For those that may be unfamiliar with Harbor 20 traveling regattas the unique way it works is this; the host fleet invites the traveling fleet to stay at their homes. The host fleet also lends the visiting sailors their Harbor 20s. With no need to de-rig, trailer, and then re-rig one can simply pack an overnight bag along with a housewarming gift.
Harbor 20 traveling regattas are unique affairs among sailboat racing. The host fleet lends their boats to the visitors. The host fleet also opens up their homes.
Each Harbor 20 has a “third” crew member from the other Fleet that is randomly assigned. At a stroke, the fleets became mixed socially. Finally, no skipper from the host fleet is able to sail their own boat.
This helps to keep the racing fair, since everyone, both hosts and visitors, are sailing unfamiliar boats.
Only 5 teams from each fleet were allowed to partake in the racing. Both fleets had some strict qualifying rules so only their best sailors participate. Family and friends also came along to participate in the fun.
Newport Sailors skipped out of work just a little early on Friday for a smooth drive up the coast.
While the Santa Barbara Fleet uses Asymmetric spinnakers in their sailing, Newport does not. Harbor 20 spinnaker training was therefore a must.
Upon arriving a dockside spinnaker clinic led by Leslie Deardorf & Jane Watkins,introduced the Newporters to Asymmetric spinnaker sailing. Armed with the theory of hoist, gybe, and douse; the Newporters took to Harbor 20s for practice. Each boat had a local expert spinnaker sailor aboard. The Newporters returned to the dock confident and ready.
Friday Evening – The highlight of Friday was a New Orleans themed Dockside party hosted by Al Salazaar, owner of the French Quarter institution, Deja Vu
Complete with all the traditional southern favorites, Al’s team of Dee, Kelly, and Brian offered southern hospitality along with Legendary Gumbo, Margaritas, and music that had everyone moving.
Al’s daughter, Chanel hosted the event with charming southern grace.
Jane Watkins provided a tasty Thai noodle salad appetizer while Karen Cahill provided her spectacular corn bread that perfectly complimented the Louisana Gumbo.
Wine was provided by the legendary, Fess Parker Winery, and was the perfect beverage for these thirsty sailors.
Good times continued late into the evening.
Al’s after party aboard his beautiful Cheoy-Lee had many sailors up late enjoying great company, conversation, and fine drinks.
Despite the spirited competition expected the next day between North and South, there was plenty of mixing between the two fleets.
Perhaps, the mixing, of not only conversations but drinks as well, was an attempt to get the other fleets’ sailors to “over indulge,.” a calculated but friendly tactic.
In the morning the racers collected for breakfast on the club porch. The eagerly anticipated boat and team assignments were announced with fanfare. The “Thirds” met their teams for the day.
The wind gods decided to give the sailors some extra recovery time from the prior evening’s festivities by withholding the wind. The sailors remained on the club porch and socialized while waiting for the wind to build.
The wind came in the late afternoon. The breeze freshened enough to get the boats moving nicely.
The race committee wisely set up short courses in the modest wind. The short courses kept the boats together. Tight racing was the norm.
Boats passed each other many times on the course.
Mark roundings were crowded and also very Corinthian.
The Newporters hoisted,gybed, and doused their spinnakers with panache. There was just enough breeze to become versed in the mysteries of Spinnakers.
The fleet standings were mixed at the end of the day. Neither fleet appeared to be in the lead. The scores were too close for anyone to be complacent about their position.
The sailors easily put their Harbor 20s away after sailing.
There was much laughter as the sailors walked together back to the Club. Active socializing between fleets and boats was yet again the norm. A buffet dinner was served on the porch with tasty crab cakes as the highlight.
A gorgeous Pacific coast sunset was on display to delight the sailors.
Long after the dinner was finished, laughter and good cheer continued late into the night.
Everyone enjoyed a late breakfast. The wind gods favored the sailors. The breeze came up much sooner than the day before. The first gun went off on schedule as the breeze built all day, leading to perfect surfing conditions – 4 well managed races – extremely tight racing with 5 or more boats finishing less than 2 lengths apart -
Everyone was having so much fun that Harbor 20s competitors even cheered each other on while surfing downwind.
After the races ended there was still quite a buzz about all the festivities from the weekend that none wanted it to end.
In fact, many of the Hosts asked their Newport guests to Stay Another Night and keep the party going. Fortunately, the next day was Labor Day. The Newporters and Santa Barbarians stayed up until the wee hours just plain having fun.
It’s clear when Harbor 20 sailors get together , it’s going to be epic.
A look ahead for next year…
Santa Barbara will host the late summer 2014 Harbor 20 East-West Challenge. The Harbor 20 class leadership is in the final stages of coordinating a exact date for the East-West challenge. Sailors will want to clear their calendars for this event. Stay tuned to Harbor20.org for details.
The pressure is also on for the Newport Harbor 20 fleet to raise the hospitality bar even higher at next year’s North -South Regatta.
There is even talk of inviting other Harbor 20 fleets to join in on the fun by making the Santa Barbara Spinnaker Challenge a regular Labor Day weekend event on the Harbor 20 circuit.
A big thanks to Kathleen Baushke, Jane Watkins, Karen Cahill, Brad Schaupeter, Peter Haynes, Emile Pilafidis, and Rolly Pulaski for organizing and coordinating this unique weekend. The 3 day long party would also not have been possible without the gracious hospitality of the Santa Barbara host families who opened up their homes to Newporters. Finally, special thanks are due to the Harbor 20 owners who lent their Harbor 20s to Newporters. They truly made this unique event a memorable one.
The North-South festivities attracted sailors from all over. Everyone wanted to join in the fun. Even Roman Abramovich showed up to watch the Harbor 20s races !