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King Harbor Race

Story by David Newland
Note: David raced in the 2022 Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race with several other AYC members. They had a blast. This is David’s race recap.

I’m tapping into the Southern California coastal racing scene and this race was absolutely on my calendar this year.  A few AYC boats and members have done this race in the past and I’ve had brief conversations about it.  They were all good, too!  This was the 49th running of this event, anchored by Santa Barbara Yacht Club and King Harbor Yacht Club and it took place July 29th/30th.   

My brother, Bill, from West Virginia joined me for a nice 4 day delivery from San Diego which included stops at Catalina Island (Avalon, Rippers Cove and Twin Harbors) Ventura Harbor and finally Santa Barbara.  Some hotel reservations were made as a J/92 is a little sparse down below, though we did rough it out at Twin Harbors.  Not too bad, really, as I’ve got a Jet Boil and 2 settee’s!  

We were in Twin Harbors by Tuesday, July 26th.  On Wednesday, we dropped the mooring at 2:30 am and headed to Ventura.  It was earlier than planned, but turned out to be a good decision because we left in the cover of darkness and were pleasantly greeted by bait fish and dolphin snacking on them, all displayed with a phosphorescence light show.  Are we in Pandora?  Truly spectacular.  Almost as cool as seeing whales breach on our way to Avalon.  I’ve been in/on/around Catalina Island for almost 50 years and have never seen that before.  

Once we arrived in Santa Barbara on Thursday, we grouped up with the rest of our crew.  My son, Josh and Joel Hurley flew in from Phoenix, along with Sean Brown and Brianna Voron also coming from Phoenix with a stop at their boat in Oceanside.  The Santa Barbara Yacht Club is beach-front and had a live band playing, good food and spirits!  We grabbed a drink, dug our toes in and watched the wing foilers do their thing right in front of us.

Race conditions were lighter than previous years, though boats stayed powered up until close to midnight.  The fast boats got in before the wind shut down, so for the rest it was a matter of placement in Santa Monica Bay at that time to determine if you got in at sunrise or noon on Saturday.  Sean routed us well, jibing past Pt Dume as we followed the track of Flying Dutchmen (a nicely modified Hobie 33 with tons of SB2KH race experience) and Dr Laura Schlessinger’s J/109 Trifecta (yes, that Dr Laura.  She won her division and took 6th overall against boats like Bolt, Taxi Dancer, Medicine Man and Fast Exit II, and it seems she left her J/125 at the dock!  Nicely done). 

We were scrapping for any sort of pressure from midnight to our finish.  A few miles off shore from Marina del Rey/Manhattan Beach, we noticed Foil, a Farr 40, also having trouble (more-so) in the light stuff.  As we ghosted past them off their bow, I went for a deep track on my play list and turned up the volume.  Madonna’s Like a Virgin.  I’m not sure if they thought it was funny, but I did in my punch-drunk sleep deprived state at 3:00 am.

We got our finish just after 6:40 am for a 2nd place in ULDB D class.  28th out of 62 overall.  Nice work, crew!  After a hot breakfast, Sean and Bri Uber’d back to Santa Barbara to get their car and the rest of us “turned and burned” to San Diego.  We were tired, but handed a beautiful day of sailing down the coast.  Blue skies, 10 knots of breeze just cracked off from a starboard close hauled course, auto pilot engaged and no swell.  We hit the dock in San Diego at 2:00 am Sunday (not literally, but maybe?  We were wiped out and I don’t remember much).  A quick nap and a Sunday morning meal at Race Headquarters (Casa de Lorenz-my sister’s house), back to the boat for clean up, then we drove home to Phoenix arriving right to my pillow at 8:30 pm Sunday.  

Did I mention a motor swap that got tidied up 2 days before departure?  That could be another article.  I’ll save the 2000 words and post 2 pictures.