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Summer Sailstice Racing

May 13, 2024 by Heidi Benson-Stagg

Everyone knows the basic fact of sailing: if there's two sailboats in sight of each other, it's a race. 

Some of us take it more seriously than others. My husband has been known to empty the water tanks before a "casual" beer can race and I've also seen boats that focus more on the "beer" than the race. But all racers love to good-naturedly share the moment of yelling "room at the mark" or beating a competitor across the finish line by inches over drinks back at the clubhouse. 

Personally, I'd never thought racing was anything special until we bought a 30+ year old Wilderness 21 and I was at the helm in Encinal Yacht Club's women's skipper race, the Gracie & George Regatta. I'm generally a chatty person, but as we sailed the final downwind leg to the finish, it was silence in the cockpit as I carefully analyzed each wind shift and competitor's position and made tiny movements on the tiller. I won my division and there was no looking back. I was hooked.

Since then I've shared my love of racing with other women and coached the Island Yacht Club Women's Sailing Seminar races. I learned how to sail my boat out and back into the slip because the outboard motor was a pain to haul off the transom and into the cabin (and there's no way I'm going to allow any drag to affect our speed!). When my crew failed to show up for a Friday night beer can race I had my first singlehanded experience so I wouldn't have to use a DNS as my throw-out for the series. It was the sweetest sixth place finish ever! If this steadfast 40-year "cruiser" can develop a love of racing, anyone can. 

Racing is the perfect way to participate in Summer Sailstice and I plan to be kicking some stern on my Slice for the IYC Island Nights race on June 21. Summer Sailstice's founder, John Arndt, will be combining racing and cruising over the weekend by participating in Corinthian Yacht Club's Friday Night Race, then overnighting somewhere in the Bay, before taking in the Master Mariners Wooden Boat Show in Tiburon on June 23. Chances are there's a beer can race in your area and these casual events are a great introduction into the world of racing. 

The Summer Sailstice World Map currently boasts over a dozen racing opportunities ranging from youth sailing in San Francisco Bay to the start of the Newport Bermuda Race, the oldest regularly scheduled ocean race. 

You can create a personal plan sharing which dinghy race you'll be doing, like Gail Turlock who will be spending the weekend with the Greater Detroit Sunfish Club on Muskegon Lake at Muskegon State Park in Michigan. You don't have to camp to participate, although I bet there'll be some great story-telling over the evening campfire. Many family and friends will be cheering their Junior Sailors who are participating in regattas all over the globe. My grandson, Cody Wood, is one of more than 100 racing out of Richmond Yacht Club in the BAYS first summer series in San Francisco Bay on June 22-23 on fleets of 420s, Lasers, Optis and FJs. 

CreekFleet Sailing Club in Michigan invites anyone with a daysailer less than 20 ft long for their Summer Sailstice Regatta on June 23rd. They have three races planned before a picnic lunch gathering and then three more in the afternoon. There is no charge and everyone is welcome. Get all the details on their website. The Quincy Bay Race Week Association invites everyone to join their Sail-Abration which not only encourages sailors of all ages to get out sailing on Summer Sailstice, but serves as a fundraising event for their student scholarships. 

Edgartown Yacht Club in Massachusets kicks off the Martha Vineyard's 2024 racing season with the Edgartown Race Weekend which includes 'Round-the-Sound coastal sprints and the historic 'Round-the-Island race. Competition is open to PHRF-NE and Multi-Hull ratings. Sail Georgina in Ontario, Canada hosts the annual Mayor's Cup Race beginning at Jackson Point Harbour with a race around Fox Island. 

South Beach Yacht Club invites J/105 and J/88 fleets to compete in their Annual five-race J-Stop weekend regatta. It's also a great opportunity for spectators to get out on the water and shoot photos of the colorful spinnakers against the San Francisco skyline and then join the racers for a Summer Sailstice party and awards event back at the clubhouse. 

Blue Sky Sailing Club is hosting a Race to the Manitou Islands on Lake Nipissing followed by a raft-up for lunch and swapping of sea tales around the beach bonfire. The club offers boats for use or you can bring your own. All experience levels are welcome!

Two international racing events are on our Summer Sailstice World Map! The prestigious Newport Bermuda Race has relocated its starting point off Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island. This will make for both land and sea spectacular viewing of the fleet of approximately 200 boats and kick-off a weekend filled with maritime excitement. Check out their website for details on how to participate in racing, viewing from the water, shoreline and live-stream. 

John Burnham will be racing his International One Design in the IOD World Championships in Hanko, Norway from June 16-21, ending on the longest day of the year with a Summer Sailstice celebration. 

Where in the world will you be racing on Summer Sailstice? Enter your personal plan and let us know or check out the races already entered and join one. Don't see an event near your port of call? Ask your sailing club to post their plans and join our goal of getting the world out SAILING on June 22nd!

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