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Great Vallejo Race to the Party

Saturday’s Race and Party at Vallejo Yacht Club

While many of our readers were spectating at SailGP in San Francisco or browsing boats and gear at the Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show in Redwood City, others were racing to Vallejo and back, preferring athletic action to passive participation. The crews this year didn’t have to go to athletic extremes. They arrived in Vallejo on Saturday and Richmond on Sunday largely unscathed. What they did experience was a very quick ride to host Vallejo Yacht Club in a flood current, following seas, and breeze into the mid-teens.

The J/24 Flight heads out to the start line in morning squalls.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Raft-up at VYC
By the time the boats had reached up the Mare Island Strait and snuggled into the raft-up at VYC, the rain was a distant memory and the crews had shed layers.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Steel drum band
A steel drum band serenaded the arriving sailors.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Siren crew at VYC
On VYC’s deck, we ran into Brendan Huffman (left), Margie Woods (right) and the crew of Brendan’s Santa Cruz 33 Siren, including Caitlin, Ryan and Taylor. They handed around the red Mount Gay Rum hats that came in their skipper’s bag. Brendan and Margie are both vets of the Singlehanded Transpacific Race, and Brendan signed up to do it again this year.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
swag bag swag
The swag bag contents were surprisingly plentiful.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Olson 911 Squad
Walking the dock, we ran into Grant Kiba (left) and his 911 Squad from the Olson 911 Take Five More.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Suzanne, Lind and Mike
Suzanne Lee (left) crewed on the Laser 28 Stink Eye and Linda and Mike Mannix sailed the Catalina 38 Harp. Mike and Linda had a full crew on Saturday but doublehanded on Sunday.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Party crowd at Sea Star
Crews (friends) from various random boats greeted one another at the Cal 39 Sea Star.
© 2023 Suzanne Lee

Sunday’s Race to Richmond

Sunday’s race to the finish at Richmond YC was a longer day. Lighter wind made for slow going against that same current. The breeze did pick up for the second half of the race, but again not reaching gear-busting or body-bruising punishment levels.

Aerial view of Mare Island Strait
As viewed from Mare Island, spinnakers parade downstream to start the Sunday race to Richmond YC.
© 2023 Brian O'Neill
Fleet with Richmond Bridge
Most of Sunday’s race was a beat.
© 2023 Jennifer McKenna

Although this was a remarkably successful regatta, it was also remarkable (not in a good way) for the numbers. Signups fell below 100 entries for the first time in living memory with the exception of the COVID years 2020 and 2021. (For example, the earliest stats from Jibeset show 241 registrations in 2013. Old-timers tell us the regatta used to get 500+ entries.) If you’ve sailed the Great Vallejo Race in the past but didn’t this year, we wonder why not. Was it the conflict with SailGP and/or the Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show? Was it the weather forecast? The entry fee? Crew, transportation or boat-gear hassles? Please comment below. Include your name, town and your boat’s name and type if any — and please keep it friendly!

Dance Band
Stats be damned, VYC hosted a lively crowd on Saturday night.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

We’ll have much more in the June issue of Latitude 38. In the meantime, you can check the preliminary results on Jibeset. You can also go to Jibeset to replay race tracks recorded by some of the entries.


  1. dennis deisinger 1 year ago

    Sad to hear that participation has fallen off. It was a Not-Miss race in the day. Or a NOT-MISS party… VYC was/is always a gracious host. The hungover beat back was always brutal. I was at the SailGP event for the weekend which was a blast. Bummed that the boat show was going on at the same time too.
    -Above said, the Natural Blonde stays close to home and only does Beer Cans these days and we wouldn’t have participated. Might still have scares from past Vallejo races though.

  2. Jose Kanusee 1 year ago

    Quite frankly, I dont think the lower number of entries is such a bad thing! Ive done the race many times and the raft ups were kinda nuts and the lines for the bar, the tight quarters in the club, even lines for food or the head were a put off. Maybe put a limit on number of entries and see if my explanation might explain the fall off (maybe others feel as i do).

  3. Brad Smith 1 year ago

    Having done the race several times on other peoples boats and twice on my Hobie back when nobody did that, I wonder if the race is “aging out”? It has been going for a long time. Remember when they ran huge generators on the submarines 24 hours a day?

  4. Brendan Huffman 1 year ago

    First time doing Great Vallejo race, and I loved it. In SoCal, Yachting Cup was also last weekend and had low turnout (as did Ensenada Race the weekend before). Turnout seems to be generally declining everywhere but not for all races. There seem to be more races than ever, which impacts turnout and quality particularly when they are run on the same days. When that happens, it’s not good for our sport.

  5. milly Biller 1 year ago

    We had a conflicting race here in Inverness, one of our two distance races. We lost a few sailors to the Vallejo Race, and I am sure they lost some to our event up here. Just a wonderfully busy weekend !

  6. Christine Weaver 1 year ago

    In their Friday Roundup newsletter, the YRA posed a similar question in a longer-form survey. If you didn’t compete in this year’s Great Vallejo Race, you can take the survey here:

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