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The SCENE Magazine

Wednesday Night Sailboat Races ready for 33rd season

Mar 20, 2011 04:22PM ● By Betsey Ennis
You don’t need to know the difference between the “main” and the “jib” to enjoy and appreciate the Bay Area’s most beautiful spectator sport, sailing.

Few places anywhere have the kind of sailing community that is found in the Bay Area. This area is home to competitive sailing programs and races run by a number of yacht clubs and local sailing associations. For anyone who loves to sail, who could ask for a better place to live or visit thasailing-bigshot-saintarnolds-IMG_1434n the Bay Area.

But sailing is also a fabulous spectator sport, and the Bay Area offers residents and visitors the rare opportunity to enjoy the impressive sight of sailing up-close and personal during the Wednesday Night Races on Clear Lake, which returns on April 6 and will be hosted by Villa Capri.

The popular races, now starting their 33rd year, feature numerous classes of boats on the lake and the bay. Buddy Brown of the Clear Lake Racing Association, organizing authority for the event, said, “We are excited about Villa Capri hosting the races. Anyone who has been to Villa Capri knows what a beautiful property they have on the lake front. There are lots of trees and a garden walk that leads down to the water’s edge. Even on the warmest days, the trees surrounding the patio provide cool temperatures and plenty of shade.”

As host, Villa Capri will offer the best view of the races with the start and finish lines directly in front of the club in the prevailing southeast breeze. There will be live commentary, drink specials, random awards, and a special, Wednesday Night menu to go along with the beautiful views and action. For the sailors, 2011 brings new, more relaxed courses to go along with the challenging courses of years past.

“I had the chance to race in my own event last year, and I was quite surprised at the intensity,” Brown explained. “I knew I had set up some short courses, but it was more intense than even I thought it would be. We’re keeping the challenging courses, but to balance it out a bit, we’ve added some longer courses around the lake to introduce more relaxing moments.”

Also known as “Beer Can Races” around America, Wednesday Night Sailboat Races are generally more relaxed, but Clear Lake’s version has become a great way to tune up a crew’s teamwork or get involved in the sport for the first time. Introducing some longer, more relaxed racing into the series will allow skippers to invite newbies along for a ride without worrying too much about the continuous scramble for the next upcoming maneuver.

“Who knows,” said Brown, “they might even be able to open a cola and finish it before the next mark.”

Anyone wanting to get involved can sign up on the web site,, and filling out the “I Want To Crew!” form.  After the race, the sailors put their boats away, and then arrive back at Villa Capri to socialize, talk about the race, review the race video, and collect their awards for the night. Anyone wishing to rub elbows with the local sailing crowd might use this opportunity to get into the sport.

Clear Lake’s version of the Wednesday Night Sailboat Races is quite unique with turning marks set just yards away from the spectators on land. With the marks set so close, it is easy to watch the teamwork, sail changes, and listen to the exchanges between boats, which sometimes can be comical.

Combined with the great food, drinks, and service, and the garden-like atmosphere of Villa Capri’s patio, the races will serve as a great place for an escape from the work week. See you there!