There is a common theme in the world of local yacht racing that everyone involved will have a conversation about at one time or another — participation.

For a host of reasons, getting boats and sailors out on the water isn’t always easy and it can be the difference between a nice afternoon on the water and an exciting day of adrenaline-filled, highly charged competition. When a start line is packed, the energy is palpable and it’s a big part of what the sport is all about.

On Saturday, November 11th, the Pacific Mariners Yacht Club will host the Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs Homeport Regatta, a race devoted to educating fledgling racers in an official race.

For one day the yachting community puts away its entrance formalities and invites sailors who have an interest in racing, albeit with understandable apprehension, to spend a day on the water racing against others in the same situation. Veteran racers are available to answer questions and to lend coaching assistance.

“The big thing is that all of the local yacht clubs with racing programs open their whole world up to anybody from the outside that wants to come in,” said Tim Tunks, who is lead organizer for Del Rey Yacht Club’s Mentor Program. “You don’t need to have any memberships, jump any hurdles or pay any entry fees.”

The rules for the Homeport were written to make the playing field as level as possible for the newly-inducted skippers and crewmen/crewwomen.

In years past, there has been controversy over the amount of experience a so-called novice had and this year the governing body has written in modifications to reflect the importance of competitors truly being new to the sport.

The regatta is designed to benefit both worlds. If all goes according to plan, the Homeport will yield at least a few sailors that will catch the bug and begin to race on a more regular basis, either with their own boats or aboard someone else’s.

And for the freshman helms-person, the regatta may be the tool in which to break down the barrier that once stood, because many would-be racers are more than a little intimidated by the crowded start line, number of rules, tactics and confidence it takes to manage a crew under the pressure of a fast-moving yacht race.

“As skipper, obviously your word is law and ultimately you’re responsible for everything, including crew, the tactics for the race and steering the boat,” said Steve Smith, a participant in last year’s Homeport and previously a crewmember — never a skipper.

“That was a little frustrating for me because I’m used to multitasking, but I had to focus on driving the boat and just let the crew do their job. It was a new experience for me,” Smith added.

The event was spearheaded and heavily promoted many years ago by the publisher of The Dinghy, the late Darien Murray, who was a champion of the cause. The perpetual trophy is presented in her honor for her tireless support and energy inside the Marina del Rey boating community.

Tunks summed it all up with these profound words:

“Come give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to race sailboats.”

For more info on the Homeport Regatta and how to become involved, contact 2005-06 Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs Homeport Regatta chairman Rick Ruskin, Farr boat@yahoo.com or 310-275-3828.

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