Everyone has a favourite sailing venue and various reasons why. For some, a favourite venue has everything to do with the excellent wine bar just down the road from the boat park. For others, it’s the boat park itself (I’m a pretty big fan of the non-stop techno music loop which is played for a solid week in Medemblik during the Delta Lloyd Regatta). In this page, we’ll explore venues for better or for worse, and why we love/hate them. Enjoy!
First and foremost, what is YOUR favourite venue? Here are some of the top rated venues in the world, and they’re definitely on my bucket list. But what is yours?
Coronado Yacht Club, San Diego
Flat water, 23 degrees Celsius, and wandering oscillations in the breeze, check. Tasty burritos, amazing olive oil, and wandering buff young Navy Seals in the streets, check. Ahh life in Coronado is good. There is nothing to really get excited about, but a lot to just sit back and enjoy. Case in point: groups of very fit navy men jogging on the beach each morning is added motivation to haul my own keister out of my donated v-berth for a run. Then it’s off to the Starbucks to continue sightseeing while sipping americanos. 10am roles around and then this small but absolutely amazing olive oil and balsamic vinegar bar opens. Coronado Taste of Oils. Got that? Write it down, because you need to check this place out. No joke, you can go olive oil tasting! My personal fave was the mushroom and sage infused olive oil. Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? Oh hang on a sec, how about this ridiculous 18 year old balsamic vinegar? Sweet mother of pearl, it’s so smooth you can actually drink the stuff! Alright alright, we’re here for racing so let’s get on with it shall we? Back to the club, CYC as they say. A mellow, friendly place which sort of exudes this casual California cool. Everyone shows up via skateboard to rig their boats and then wanders down to Clayton’s for a burrito (no joke, these things will change your life…as long as you don’t confuse the burrito shack for a broom closet).
Out on the water, there’s a strange dichotomy: the venue itself is pretty mellow, about 8-12 knots with wandering oscillations as the sea breeze and gradient wind bicker about who gets to be in charge. Meanwhile, the Navy Seals training out in the bay are not so mellow. On our second training day we were greeted by the sound of rapid artillery fire as we sailed out into the bay. This was immediately followed by a fleet of helicoptors passing overhead and high speed zodiac rescue exercises. Yipes! I’m pretty sure that if you took the entire Canadian navy, it still wouldn’t fill up this one bay with what the Americans have filled it with. In fact, the military presence was so strong that on our second day of racing, we unknowingly sailed RIGHT THROUGH a military exercise! As we followed the race committee out to the course, we were stopped and surrounded by navy ships and told in no uncertain terms to remove ourselves from the area…live fire was in use. Eep! I wonder what Michael Moore would have to say about that!? Kristine and I clearly took the best approach to the situation: smile and wave to the navy boys…hiiiii!
All in all, Coronado is a great place for warm spring training. Flat water, nice breeze, fantastic foreshore team (Fabian is bloody hilarious-if you need anything just ask Fabian), and a sense that you are slipping back into a Beach Boys song once you cross the bridge into Coronado itself.
Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron
What’s that smell? Ahh yes…it’s the smell of a ROYAL club. Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron aka. RNSYS aka. The Squadron, is the oldest yacht club in North America. Hmmm….cool, but really let’s get into the more important points here: the clam chowder. Alright alright, the colonial maritime architecture is beautiful, and you can sort of picture the people who grace our five and ten dollar bills sitting around the mammoth fireplace and debating the merits of confederation. That’s all well and good, along with the lovely grounds outside, the pastoral stream running through the parking lot, and the two or three boat yards which leave you multitudinous options for storing your C&C. However, I was there in winter, and I’m in my twenties, and I don’t own a C&C…and so all of those things paled in comparison to the chowder. I’m telling you I would fly all the way back across Canada for another cup of that tasty goodness. If it were socially acceptable, I’d run a bath and bathe in it. Kevin, the General Manager at RNSYS was the purveyor of said chowder. And you can smell the stuff when you walk in from the freezing February snow and ice. With typical maritime warmth, he welcomes you in and invites you to ‘just make yourselves comfortable…we don’t get all fancy here in Nova Scotia.’ Then he regales you with the history of the place, including the true meaning of being named a Squadron. Apparently her majesty the Queen can command all vessels on the grounds into battle should the occasion arise. This left me chuckling and imagining a herd of Opti sailors storming some large Navy frigate and throwing soggy sandwiches at it. But once you’re nice and cozy, and all snuggled into a baby soft RNSYS leather wingback, out comes the chowder and the rest of the outside world just disappears. Really, that’s all there is to be said about the Squadron…until the opportunity arises to get back on ‘the bay’ for some summer breeze.
In September 2011, Cesme hosted the Favor Skiff Cross Event. The idea was to have a resort town, two double trapeze skiffs, a bunch of cute smiling girls sailing really fast and wearing minimal and/or tight Spandex, and a whole pile of media. In this endeavour the regatta officials succeeded. There were girls a-plenty and a bunch of media, not to mention a pile of men who were just as happy to watch the bikini clad competitors on the float as they were to watch 29erXX’s crashing rather spectacularly around the race course. This was my third event in Turkey in as many years, and with each event it becomes more apparent that the Turkish are some of the most gracious and hospitable hosts I have ever had the pleasure to come across. Really and truly, if you want to be treated like royalty, go to Turkey. There is also the beautiful heat, fantastic coffee (unless you happen to mistake Turkish coffee for Nescafe), and spices, dates, figs, and olives to keep you happy until the cows come home. As for the actual racing, however, it was challenging to say the least. Race course was so close to shore that you were literally ducking cruise boats as they came in and out of the busy harbour. Perhaps it was just incidental that our start line was at the mouth of the harbour? In order to ensure media friendliness, we also traded the steady 18 knot sea breeze which was a mere 500 metres offshore for in harbour racing. This in harbour racing featured 20-40 degree shifts and unpredictable puffs from 3-18 knots. Challenging on a 350 metre course in a skiff! Oh well, exciting for the hosts, the media, and the spectators…and hey, if flinging scantily-clad, athletic young ladies off of sail boats at high speeds gets us sponsorship for next year’s event…well then I guess I can make that sacrifice for sailing.