About Fleet 1

Fleet 1 User’s Manual

Harbor 20 Fleet 1, located in Newport Beach, California is perhaps the most active One-Design racing fleet in the world.  In 2012 there were 126 days when one could race a Harbor 20!

Now, that’s incredible!

This document describes the various aspects of the Harbor 20 Fleet 1, and provides information on the philosophy, governance, racing, educational opportunities, social events, web links, and board of directors.


The Philosophy

There are many reasons for the popularity and success of the Harbor 20, the foremost being a very strict one-design philosophy.   In addition, when the concept was conceived in the late 1990’s, the guiding principal was to develop a boat which was “hassle free”, such that sailing and racing could be easier and more enjoyable than ever before.


“Hassle-free” is intended to pervade every aspect of owning and racing a Harbor 20, from the ease of preparing to set sail, the comfort of boat handling and sail trim, and most importantly the elimination of fleet-killing behaviors which have doomed many other one-design fleets.

To this end, the Bylaws were written as to eliminate the possibility of “tweaking” the boat to make it go faster, which inevitably results in an arms race in which speed can be bought.

Once the arms race begins, the focus shifts away from Corinthian competition in which the most talented sailors are recognized, and the degeneration begins as the hassle factor starts spinning out of control, in more ways than one.



Fleet 1 was founded under the governance of a Board of Directors which established Class and Fleet Bylaws dedicated to promoting and preserving this hassle-free philosophy.  This has resulted in more sailors on the water and more social activities off the water.

Sharing of knowledge and a high degree of social interaction is encouraged.  The entire membership is invited to take part by serving on committees, mentoring newer sailors, participating in social events, seminars, and clinics, and in various other events.


A primary function of the Board of Directors is to promote and preserve the hassle-free and social interaction philosophy.   Simply stated, the H20 Class Bylaws and the H20 Fleet 1 Bylaws taken together could be described in the simple expression “You can’t buy speed”, summarized as follows:


  • The factory boat cannot be modified.
  • All boats must be kept in the water, and have the same kind of bottom paint.
  • Sails may be purchased from designated vendors no more than one jib every year, and one main every two years, and must be ordered during a “sail order window” during Oct-Nov.
  • Sails are measured, and cannot be modified.
  • Only compasses and timers are allowed.
  • The use professional sailors and coaches as crew are not allowed.


Another important aspect is that Fleet 1 puts a high priority on sailing by the rules.

Harbor 20’s are heavy and capable of doing severe damage in collisions.  It is no fun being fouled, or worse, sustaining damage to a Harbor 20.  When everyone understands and plays by the Racing Rules of Sailing, the competition is high quality, and collisions do not occur.

Use of Rule 44 “Taking Penalties at the Time of the Incident” is highly encouraged to settle infractions on the water, so that protest committees are only necessary in rare cases where the persons involved actually cannot determine for themselves who was at fault.


Harbor 20 Fleet 1 has also created a Facebook web page, to facilitate social interactions between members and friends, and to support the governance and philosophy of the Fleet.


The Racing “Seasons”

Racing in Fleet 1 is roughly divided into two “seasons”.  Because all racing occurs in Newport Harbor (hence the name Harbor 20), weekend daytime racing is not compatible with the level of other boating activity during the warmer months.  As such, weekend daytime racing is scheduled approximately every other weekend between the end of September through April, with the exception of a Mid-Summer regatta in July.  Most of these regattas constitute what is known as the High Point Series, for which a perpetual trophy is awarded at the Awards Banquet in December. The High Point Series culminates with the Fleet 1 Championship Regatta at the end of September, and then the following year’s series begins in October.


Because there is no racing on weekends during the months of May through September, there is instead racing every weekday night, Monday through Friday at 6:00 PM.  Twilight racing constitutes “Informal Racing” where participation requirements are more relaxed than during High Point regattas.


Participation Requirements

To participate in a sailboat race, a skipper must be a member of a Yacht Club. This is not a H20 rule, but rather a general rule. To participate in a H20 High Point Race, a skipper must also be a member of the H20 Class Association. Membership affords the benefits of receiving communications about events and other important information, and inclusion in the Class Roster.  Skippers and crew can join the H20 Class Association by submitting a registration form to the Fleet 1 Treasurer.


The A, B, & C Divisions

With upwards of 40 boats competing in a single event, Fleet 1 is divided into multiple divisions according to the skill level of the skipper. This helps maintain the quality of competition for all involved. Patterned after the successful Lido 14 fleet rules, the A, B & C Division Rules are described in the Appendix to the Fleet 1 Bylaws.  Results of all High Point races are tabulated and maintained on the Fleet 1 “High Point Series” page on the Harbor 20 Class Association Website for purposes of awarding the High Point trophies, and for maintenance of the A, B and C Division. Skippers assigned to the A or B divisions are listed on the “Divisions” page.  All other skippers sail in the C Division, where they may earn promotion to the B Division for a one year period, during which the skipper may earn the right to remain in the B Division for an additional year. This is the reason why it is important that during High Point races, the person that enters the boat as skipper must helm the boat for all races, because while yacht clubs score boats, H20 Fleet 1 scores skippers. There is ample opportunity to let others helm the boat during the many informal twilight races. Skippers are encouraged to sail in informal races in the fleet to which they are assigned in the High Point, but the Division rules are not enforced.



Educational Opportunities

Another reason for the success of H20 Fleet 1 is the educational program. Targeted at all levels of experience, educational opportunities include day long seminars on the essential aspects of sailboat racing, on-the-water clinics, an annual Fleet 1 Tuning Day, and a Mentor Program in which seasoned sailors share their experience by sailing with those with less experience. Information on the seminar series can be found on the H20 Class Association Website under “Resources >> Seminars” or SEMINARS & EDUCATION.  As the Racing Rules of Sailing are actually very complex, the majority of the sailors competing today in Fleet 1 have attended the “Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing” seminar at least once.


Social Events

Beyond the active racing and informal sailing, Fleet 1 members also benefit from a variety of social events, including parties such as the Summer Sail and Beach Party, the end of the year Awards Banquet, a possible new Opening Season Party, as well numerous opportunities to participate in gatherings after racing at sponsoring clubs for trophies and socializing.

Other events include volunteer involvement and/or participation in ladies racing, the East/West, North/South and NHYC Baldwin cup invitational events, and others.



Harbor 20 Sailing Association website and Social Media sites


You are encouraged to visit the website  http://www.harbor20.org/news/ which is an excellent source of information for:

1. Racing Calendar with Notice of Races, Signups, Sailing Instructions, results

2. ByLaws

3. Record keeping for the A fleet qualifying

4. Current Standings for the High Point and Rain or Shine trophies

5. Crew and Mentors listing

6. Classified Ads

7. Other tips and info

8. Frequent posts and announcements.


And, you are encouraged to join the association on the website to get the email notifications, and to participate in racing and all other events.

Additionally, there are several “non-official” sites on social media, run by individuals, dedicated to Harbor 20 social, photos and discussions, including a Facebook Page, a Facebook Group, and a Photo Sharing Page.


Get to Know your Board of Directors

This information has been provided by the Harbor 20 Class and Fleet 1 Boards of Directors who are tasked with the preservation of the successful hassle-free Harbor 20 philosophy.

Welcome to Fleet 1, and please feel free to contact us for any reason.