The Harbor Report: It's a busy race around the islands

I will be aboard Glenn Highland's yacht, the Bien Roulee, on Friday morning, powering up to sail to Los Angeles Harbor for the start of March 4-5 Islands Race.

The second-annual event is co-sponsored by the Newport Harbor and San Diego yacht clubs. The race starts Friday afternoon in L.A. Harbor. The competitors will race out through Angels Gate, around Catalina and San Clemente islands to port, and finish at San Diego Whistle Buoy "S.D." with a handicapped distance of 129 nautical miles.

Last year's inaugural race attracted 41 boats and this year's attendance is at 47 registered boats. Most of the fleet finished by 3 a.m. last year and looking at the weather two days out, it appears to be similar to last year's cold!

Looking over my story from the 2010 event, the race was a huge success. The inverted start, with the big boats starting after the smaller boats, has everyone arriving at Catalina about at the same time. It seemed that everyone I talked with had their own spectacular descriptions of the sunset.

There was a tremendous amount of sea life reported last year with one boat bumping into a whale. Everyone had dolphins ducking under their boats and lighting up the waters fluorescence.

Add that excitement with some wind and surf, and you have yourself a yacht race to remember. And for dessert, just add 300 sailors hanging out at the San Diego Yacht Club, telling sea stories and attending the awards ceremony after the race.

From what I can tell, this year's Islands Race should bring the same excitement. I am with the race's co-chairman David Clark, who will be racing his Santa Cruz 50, the Adrenalin.

"We have two changes to this year's event that are notable" Clark said. "The first is we will have a finish boat on station, weather permitting. The second new idea is to have the Kattack race tracking system on each boat."

In my opinion this should add level of interest to this race, if it works. I could hear the concern in his voice because the signal is on the cellular phone ban. If it's anything like my cell phone service, the signal will be dropped a couple of times. So while you are at work on Friday and are wondering how the race is going, go to and look for the Kattack link.

Now it's time to place your bets for the race. Here are my picks:

First to finish will be Pendragon VI. I am going with the breeze holding up until 2 a.m.; that should give enough time for Horizon to win overall. This year's boat with the best chance of bumping into a whale has to be given to the Amante.

If you cannot take Friday off of work and still are looking for a good race, the Bogart Series out of the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club is staging its Avalon and Return Race. It's too bad these two races conflict because the Bogart is also one of my favorite races of the year.

If you are one of those sailors who prefer sleeping in a warm bed at night, the Newport Harbor Yacht Club is also hosting the Schock Regatta this weekend that will bring in most of the harbor's H20s to the turning basin.

It's starting to feel like spring. The time change is coming soon. If you are a Harbor 20 sailor, go to their website because we plan to start spring twilights on March 16.

Sea ya!

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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