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Great Vallejo Race: Grassroots yacht racing at its best

The MSSM (OK, we've coined a term here – Mainstream Sailing Media) love to cover grand prix events like the Olympics, Rolex Big Boat Series, North American and World Championships, and, of course, the America's Cup – at least before it went foil-borne, offshore, and dropped any semblance of being a national competition.

SAILING ILLUSTRATED covered last weekend's Yachting Cup in San Diego, and the Helly Hansen NOOD regatta in Annapolis. Great events to be sure, and we will continue to do so.

But what makes our sport so special, and what SI is also going to cover, are regattas like the annual Great Vallejo Race, with 150+ boats and 1000+ sailors, that was held in SF Bay last weekend. Such events are taking place around the country every weekend of the year (to say nothing of weeknights) with little or no recognition.

These Corinthian events are what make sailing great – not pros racing for rich owners in grand prix boats, but families and friends of mixed socio-economic backgrounds, gender, race and age, racing for the pure pleasure of it on boats, old and new, of every size and shape.

The GVR is a Saturday race from Berkeley up to Vallejo in the North Bay, a grand raft-up and party Saturday night at Vallejo YC, and a pursuit race back on Sunday. 12 or so miles each way. Easy peasy. Tons of fun.

I'm sure you can find results somewhere. But, frankly, who cares? Congrats to the trophy winners, but the real winners are all who raced. You only have to see these photos from last weekend's GVR, courtesy of TFE friends on Facebook with special thanks to Jack Everett, Bill Helvestine, Christine Ghiai, Peter Cornue, Roberto Giramonti, Randall Landaiche, Don Ford, Mark Van Selst and Finn Western. The pure joy of it all – grassroots sailing at its best.

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