The nickname for the Marina del Rey to San Diego Race is Survive the Night, but for the last two years it has been less about survival and more about enjoying a pleasure sail powered by healthy winds through the day into the evening.

While many races in the long history of the event have been slow, tedious affairs, the 40th Annual MdR to San Diego race that left the shores of Marina del Rey on Saturday, June 30th and arrived in San Diego the following day was all that could be expected.

Both the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club (SMWYC) and the South Western Yacht Club in San Diego, the hosts of the event, were delighted with the conditions

“There was good wind at the start that actually held up through most of the night,” said race organizer and competitor Orlando Duran from SMWYC. “Some of the people who went inside through ‘Hurricane Gulch’ saw 16-to-17-mile-an-hour winds and the people that went outside were reporting the same thing — 16-to-17 miles an hour.”

Forty boats sailed the 105-mile course that began at 11 a.m. on Saturday, with the first boat arriving in San Diego a few minutes before 8 a.m. the following morning. Roger MacGregor, owner of the enormously successful MacGregor sailboat line, was first across the line sailing his own custom 70-foot racer/ cruiser, Anthem.

In other classes, Marina del Rey racing mainstay John Staff, who has been popping up as crew on other boats around town lately since selling his Wildcat 30, is now back with a new boat and won his first race out. Staff crossed the finish line at the helm of his Viper 830, Plankton, with a crew of two at 9:30 in the morning well ahead of the rest of his class and easily won on both elapsed and corrected time.

The star of the race was arguably Mike Grijalva in the Cruising Class (Spinnaker), who won the Pilgrim Trophy (for best corrected time in his class), best overall on corrected time (in the cruising division), and also the “down the coast” cruising trophy for best times in the combination Channel Islands to Marina del Rey race and the Marina del Rey to San Diego races.

Forty boats were entered in this year’s event and, considering it is a Transpac year, Duran was perfectly satisfied with the turnout. There was once again a contingent from the Arizona Yacht Club that made the sail down the coast and then made their way to Catalina Island to raft up and hang out.

Duran, who has done this race many times, came in third in his class, enjoying the journey the whole way.

“I went right down the rhumb line,” Duran said. “It was absolutely perfect. I had wind until about three o’clock in the morning doing about five or six knots the whole time.”

The race was sponsored by Pusser’s Rum, which has supported the race for the past five years. They supply the class trophies, skippers’ caps and the pre-race “painkiller” party.

“This was our fifth year with Pusser’s,” said Duran. “We’ve established a very good relationship and they’ve just been absolutely wonderful.”

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