A fun and unique Sunfish race for Northern Californians!

Thread starter #1
On Saturday, Aug. 8, I sailed in the annual Dinghy Delta Ditch regatta, a fantastic event put on by the Lake Washington Sailing Club of Sacramento, CA. The race was 30 miles long, and 25 or so boats of different classes entered. The race starts near Rio Vista, CA on the Sacramento River, then turns for about 25 miles up the Sacramento Deep Water Shipping Channel. There was not a lot of scenery, as the shipping channel (AKA "The Ditch", which opened in 1963) is in fact pretty much in a ditch. It was about 200 feet wide, and most of the race was sailed on a broad reach, with some running and some tight reaches for good measure. There were a fair number of planing opportunities, but not enough wave action to permit surfing. It took me about 5.5 hours to complete the course. They schedule the race to be mostly with the tide, and start it in the afternoon so the usually reliable delta breeze will have kicked in to provide an offwind race without the need to tack.

Regarding the race, we were handicapped based on our Portsmouth numbers. I was the only Sunfish and started 4th. I had a jumpstart of 30 minutes on the 7 Lasers and 40 minutes on the 3 or 4 RS Aeros, and 2 hours on the lone Flying Dutchman. There was quite a variety of boats, including a few Thistles and 4 windsurfers! I had to fight an adverse current for the first 90 minutes, then the tide went slack. I took the lead early and led to the halfway point, when an RS Vareo with a spinnaker went by (and he got to start before the Lasers!) With about 6-7 miles to go, the FD, a Thistle (both with spinnakers) and a Melges 14 went on by. With two miles to go, one RS Aero went by, then I got passed about 100 feet from the finish by another Aero. So I ended up 6th and was happy with that. The top 3 finishers were the Vareo, the FD and then the Thistle. The club had a nice BBQ with a band afterwards - all in all a great day!! I recommend that anyone in the NorCal/Bay Area try this event next year!

Nice to see Sunfish representation and doing that well in a multi class distance race.

Usually think of Sunfish sailboat as the short multi-race regatta boat not a distance racer. I know on the east coast there is a Sunfish distance race around Shelter Island. Are there many regular regattas for Sunfish on the west coast?
Thread starter #4
Hi Charles, there is a small group of Sunfishers in NorCal, but it is hard for everyone to attend the same event in order to get a separate start (many regattas here seem to be multiclass and classes with 4 or 5 boats get a separate start.) The only dedicated SF regatta I know of in California is in San Diego where the group down there runs the regionals in Mission Bay each year.

To Charles and Beldar - the Sunfish seems to be a really good boat for the Ditch run. If you want to win the whole thing, the key would be to get an RS Vareo. It has a pretty high Portsmouth number but it flies offwind with the spinnaker. As far as non-spinnaker boats go, the Sunfish seems to have a good handicap for this all-offwind race. Since I started 30 minutes ahead of the Lasers, I faced an adverse current for 30 minutes longer than they did, and still ended up ahead of them. Apparently in a decent breeze a Sunfish is not that much slower offwind than a Laser. When the wind dropped some partway thru the race, they really started closing in on me!