Santa Clara Racing Association
Santa Clara Racing Association was named for its launch location on Santa Clara Point which juts into San Diego’s Mission Bay. It was off-the-beach from the start, it owned no buildings and had no staff. It seems that Jim Grimes was the founding father in the 1950s (we think) who sailed a flat-bottomed boat (was it a Skimmer?). The idea was competitive racing with no pretensions. We launched off the beach and managed our own races with the minimum of formality, but high standards of competition and sportsmanship. Racing was open to anyone on a per race day basis or through low cost annual dues ($60 in 2012). SCRA flourished for more than 50 years and was ended in a General Meeting of the membership on January 18th 2013. Many old friends gathered to celebrate sailing and mourn the passing of a great sailing club.
The racing was from noon with about 6 races back to back. The westerly sea breeze picks up in the afternoon on more than 90% of the days, so we raced year round. The Race Committee boat (powered by an outboard) was owned by SCRA and kept on a city mooring in San Juan Cove. Access was by rowing out to the mooring in a Sabot, that was kept chained to a beach bar along the access road to the Point. We took turns as RC and had a volunteer “port captain” who maintained the boat and engine. In the heyday there was also a Commodore, Secretary, Treasurer, Fleet Captains and Editor of our monthly newsletter the Masthead. Over the years parking on Santa Clara Point became congested and we moved the launch site to the public beach just north of the Bahia Hotel. We still raced in Sail Bay on 12-18 days per year.
In the 1970s the Lido and Laser fleets were the strongest, but as noted by Ray Treppa below, there were from time to time Fireballs, 470s, Finns, 505s et al. SCRA was a dues-paying member of the SD Area Yacht Clubs and represented by our Commodore at their annual dinner. SDAYC had a rotating Laser Circuit at that time – it was fun to visit different area yacht clubs each month with very competitive short-course racing.
A Sailboard fleet started in the 1980s and grew explosively to dominate the club for a decade. During this time the Laser fleet shrank and limped along with only half a dozen on the starting line. Summer race days were often held in South San Diego Bay, launching from the beach near the J street Marina in Chula Vista. Sailboard racing was active and open to all rigs, and one could change sails as the wind picked up. Several Sailboard sailors (eg., Sheila and Bob Goddard, Mary Lynn Hyde, Mitch Madruga and John Quan) became very active in leading SCRA. However, the innovation and absence of a one-design eventually fragmented the fleet. John Quan switched to a Laser and became a vibrant force for SCRA. We remember how he initiated the tradition of Salsa, Chips and Beer on the beach at Bahia Point after racing. Many a tall story was told and a friendly spirit ruled.
Vice Commodore Bruce Gresham turned the VC Summer Regatta into a summer “cruise”, car-topping Lasers and Sailboards to San Felipe for a weekend camping on the beach. This was a great success though the sailing took second place to chilling out on the beach. Subsequent years saw this event transformed into the Lawn Chair World Championships, with fierce competition for the trophies awarded to those who exerted the least effort. For example see the 1983 report from the Masthead below.
John Quan took on the running of the Laser Midwinters West for a couple of years. These were National Laser Class Regattas and the biggest was 1993 held March 6-7 in South San Diego Bay with 108 Lasers on the start line in the A fleet ! The SD Navy Yacht Club co-hosted that event. One year the RC was aboard Jack Bateman’s commercial fishing boat which towered over the Laser fleet.
As the 21st century arrived the Sailboards split off, moved their racing venue to near the Hilton Hotel on the east side of Mission Bay and formed the San Diego Windsurfing Association. Robert van Kreuningen remains the fleet captain after hosting the SCRA website for many years.
Please email Barney Rickett firstname.lastname@example.org to add to, subtract from, correct, improve this site.At about this time several SCRA members who were also members of MBYC obtained permission for us to keep the SCRA committee boat at a little-used corner of the MBYC dock. The SCRA members appreciated this hospitality from MBYC, as it greatly facilitated the RC boat preparation and maintenance. Over the next 10 years more and more SCRA Laser sailors joined MBYC allowing them to keep and launch their boats from the Club. Eventually there were so few independent SCRA members that the rationale for its existence – inexpensive racing open to all – disappeared.
Fourth Annual Lawn Chair Worlds 1983
Ray Treppa writes:
Once upon a time, a very l-o-n-g time ago there was a Sailing Club started by Jim Grimes who was sailing what looked like a flattie. Rob Pinkel, Don Van Kekrix, Ceasar Castro, and a couple others were sailing Fireballs. I bought a 470 in 1969 and Joined SCRA (The best Sailing Club) and we would race in the same fleet with the FIreballs. The 470 caught on with 6 to 10 boats racing every race day. We soon graduated to 505s with Charles Didham, Jack Bodrero, Bruce Nelson, Buddy ????, Dave Reams, Bill Guske, and several others racing regularly.
At some time I got a Lido 14 and started a fleet at SCRA. Players included Lee Bodenheimer, Ed Andreson, Ken Campbell, and we built the fleet up to about 12 boats. We also started a Finn Fleet and had 6 boats regularly. Players included John Carr, myself, Brian Ganz, and others. I was Commodore of SCRA in 1978, and then again in 1979 when Roger Howard quit SCRA a week after he was elected Commodore in 1979. I did the Newsletter for years.
The SCRA fleets travelled regularly in all classes winning many trophies at ABYC, Newport Harbor, King Harbor, Santa Cruz, Richmond YC, CBYC, SDYC, Coronado Yacht Club, and many other clubs up and down the West Coast. Sean Biehl (SCRA Race Committee chairman) and I won the SCYA Commodores Trophy in Lido 14s for SCRA at Balboa YC when I was Commodore. We bought the RC boat, couple of motors when I was Commodore (we used my address on the combo locks).
The Laser fleet grew out of the Finn Fleet with Gar Wright, Doug Kieler, Barney Rickett, Bruce Gresham, Cinda Hostetter, Brad Baum, Gary Lee, Dennis Rogers, Marc Doyle and others sailing regularly. Bruce Gresham created the “Lawn Chair World Championships) in San Felipe Mexico when the Laser Fleet travelled South. (Can’t even include the happenings at those get-togethers, “debauchery” comes to mind). SCRA has been a GREAT fleet builder and entry level Club for memberships to MBYC and SDYC since I joined in ’69. The low cost, friendly interaction, and very competitive racing has made SCRA more than just a “paper club”. Hope to make it to the dinner and visit with old friends.
Cynda Green (Hostetter) writes:
I’ve been thinking about SCRA since I got your email a week or so ago about its demise and “celebration of life” party tomorrow (1/18/2013). I’ve been trying to figure out if I could add anything beyond what you guys have already said. I write for the Pagosa Daily Post (and soon the Salida Daily Post), both in Colorado, so you would think I could find something witty to say without much effort. Also, I was thinking about San Diego a couple of days ago when it was -21 F at 6am. But now it is 45 degrees F, and all is good.
To me, SCRA was family. At the time I was involved the Laser fleet was the primary (or only?) active fleet. Here’s some trivia. My Laser was named “Underwater Taxi Service”. This came from a mis-typed card in the Assessor’s Office, where I was a boat appraiser. The actual business name was “Underwood’s Taxi Service”, which ferried people across the SD Bay to Coronado. I thought the mistake was so funny, I named my Laser after it. But then I remember that Stewart Sale’s Laser was named “Dynamo Hum” (Zappa), so I think he would win the best name prize.
Road trips. Gosh, they were all so much fun. And exhausting. Lake Arrowhead, where the wind blew like snot — in circles. It was there that I earned my only trophy for sailing Lasers: Best Death Roll.
Lawnchair Worlds. I have a great photo from that event. It’s two lawnchairs and a Corona sitting on a cooler. I think it was stolen and is now a long-running TV commercial.
Around Alameda Island. I just watched the event. I was smart enough to know I would have killed myself or my Laser competing in it. But there were events in San Diego that were also memorable. For example, the SDYC to MBYC race. Nothing like getting stuck in the kelp beds off Point Loma.
And then one time Ray Treppa convinced me to take our Lasers out into the ocean from Mission Bay. There was a huge swell. I made it out okay, but I was pretty sure I was going to crash on the jetty surfing the swell back into the bay. Pretty entertaining for Ray, but terrifying for me.
I could rat on Bruce for a number of things, like losing the RC boat anchor when he untied the float from it, and like borrowing my Laser, kicking a hole in it, duct taping it, and pretending he knew nothing about it. But I would never rat on Bruce. Nope.
Anyway, and all in all, SCRA was a great club with no pretenses. It was bare bones racing. I’m sorry to see it end, but at the same time amazed at its longevity.
I’m enjoying my life in Colorado. If you can’t live at the beach (a beach without boom boxes), then the mountains are the next best thing. Sailing is absent, but life is good. Have a great party tomorrow night, and have a drink for me.
Barney Rickett writes:
I joined SCRA in 1976 after buying a used Laser (#14465) in Oceanside. I sailed dinghies in Chichester Harbour, growing up in England and I joined at the suggestion of a friend Tim Hankins who belonged in 1968-71 and sailed a P-Cat.
I was commodore in 1992 and Laser fleet captain for several years. I used to love the “Great Race” which was from SDYC: out of SD harbor round Pt Loma north up to enter Mission Bay and finish at MBYC. Gary Lee was usually at the front. As Cynda says, below, the big question was whether to sail the shorter route inside the kelp beds or the longer safer route outside.
Some of the other sailors I remember (not mentioned elsewhere): Murray McDonnell, Bruce Nelson, Eric Robbins, Susie Ley, Gary Jobson, Randy Englund, John Schedel, Peter Inman, Kenyon Martin, Gar Wright, Dave Ridgway, Leif Ghibbsson, Bob Elliston, Doug Magde, John & Christy Porteous, Ian Storer, JJ Fetter, Giselle Camet, Alex Camet, Brian Camet,, Brian Ledbetter, Toby Kamps, Doug Hart, Jim Colgan, Jim Hecht, Nils Andersson, Dave & Steve Hochart…… what a privilege to race with them all!