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Santa Barbara National Championship 2017

September 29, 2017 - September 30, 2017

As far as anyone knows, it will be a first for our local waters when Santa Barbara radio controlled sailboats line up to race here the weekend of September 29. The Santa Barbara is a boat that was developed, and is usually raced, on the West Coast. The major fleets are in Santa Barbara, where it originated, San Diego, San Francisco and Chicago. But 22 of these large, strikingly attractive boats will be racing in their class national championship at Tilghman on Friday and Saturday, September 29 and 30. The next day they’ll be competing in a long-distance race on the Tred Avon River.

The Santa Barbara National Championship will be held in Talbot County on September 29 and 30. These radio controlled boats under sail are a thing of beauty.

The national championship will be held on a closed course around the buoys, totally visible from shore. The Down River Distance Race will be a three-mile event, with skippers sailing their Santa Barbaras from chase boats. Both events will provide spectators with a good show. Competition in this class is intense.

Radio controlled sailboats come in many sizes, from eight-inch models of the Optimist dinghy sailed by children 14 and under, to the J-Class behemoth that averages eight feet long and weighs 100 pounds. In between are several scale models of familiar boats like 12-Meters, Stars, Solings and Lasers, which are the choice of the Tred Avon Yacht Club’s Oxford RC fleet. There are dozens more classes that have been designed just for radio controlled sailing. Prime among these is the Santa Barbara.

The hull, designed by Tom Protheroe in 1964 for sailing in windy Santa Barbara Bay, is a thing of beauty, with low freeboard and a pleasing sheer curve ending in tapered overhangs at bow and stern. The boats are two inches short of five feet overall and weigh between 23 and 28 pounds ready to sail. The sail plan (main and jib) is tall and impressive. Even more impressive is the boat’s speed. The Santa Barbara will “plane” – lift slightly and exceed its hull speed – when sailing downwind in over 12 knots of wind. The boat also loves open water. In Tilghman on September 30 there will be plenty of that.

David Brawner, who has won national championships in several RC classes, and who is a past president of the American Model Yachting Association, provided the impetus to bring the Santa Barbara nationals to Talbot County. A resident of Rock Hall, David figures he has traveled 25,000 miles to sail in half a dozen Santa Barbara regattas over the years.

“California sailors hate to sail anywhere but California,” David says. “But I suggested it was due time for them to hold their nationals in the east.” Of the 22 skippers signed up for the two events, four are from California. “Getting four guys from California to come is a big deal,” David says. “And two of them are world class. What I am mostly looking forward to is the spectacle of this dual regatta. The boats are great to sail in a breeze and gorgeous to watch.”

The Santa Barbara national championship at Tilghman on Chesapeake Yacht Club will be hosted by Dave Branning, current Fleet Captain of the TAYC Oxford RC Laser Fleet, and Elaine Hepkin. The Down River Distance Race, which starts at the head of the Tred Avon River, will be hosted by Roger and Rosemary Baldwin.

For more information, contact Roger Vaughan at vaughan.roger@gmail.com or 410-822-3946.


September 29, 2017
September 30, 2017


Talbot County
MD United States + Google Map