Orange rested at the Santa Barbara Yacht Club guest dock for the two days leading up to The Hardway Race. Its a lovely spot to lounge in the sun, people watch, and do boat projects while waiting for race day. On Friday evening our charter crew Caryl arrived in time for dinner at the yacht club and a couple beverages before turning in.
Race morning dawned brilliantly sunny, with a light breeze out of the southeast—the exact direction we were to head. The forecast called for strong northwest wind, and the observations were already confirming that (26kts on Anacapa at 9am). This was a case of the hard wind outside “eddying” around the islands and folding back on itself. This can create areas where it is extremely light—lovely for morning coffee, but not very welcome at our start time of 11:25.
Approximately 25 boats started in these light conditions. A few were to head around Santa Cruz Island—the traditional Hardway route. A fair number were on the coast-wise course, and a handful of would be sailing the Anacapa route. Due to retirements, only two of us finished on that course!
It took three hours to move away from the light stuff inshore and out to the synoptic breeze of the Santa Barbara Channel. When it filled, it filled big, and we were soon jib reaching at 15kts headed right to the island. By 4pm we were gliding through the Anacapa Passage and proceeding down the backside of the beautiful island. It was strange to be there by ourselves, with no other racers in sight.
Before rounding Arch Rock at the east end of the island we nipped in one reef for what we knew would be a fast last leg. One nice sunset later and we were soon crossing the finish line at 10pm. Orange lives in front of the Pierpont Bay Yacht Club (the host of the Island Series) and it’s always a treat to be treated to treats upon arrival, no matter the hour. This evening it was homemade chili—and a Pierpont Ale, of course.