When PBYC (Pierpoint Bay Yacht Club, Ventura) put on itsí infamous Sledgehammer Race utilizing the northern segment of the LAYC course (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Richardson Rock to port, starting and finishing at Ventura) in the late 1970ís. Mike Johnson, a local sailmaker who had crewed several times in the LAYC race, told me he would never go again because the race was too dangerous. He felt that the required dead reckoning of Richardson Rock and all the foul ground off San Miguel at night, in the always present fog, and the always present 30-35kt wind was just too marginal. According to Johnson, that was the principle reason the race was finally abandoned.
Nevertheless, we raced Emeraude, our Yankee 30 in the first two editions of the Sledgehammner and found it to be all that was advertised.
Starting at Ventura, arrival in the waters off San Miguel always occurred in the middle of the night. Pitch black and fog-bound in winds of 30-35 kts, we were always down to our smallest sail combination; lapper and double reefed main. Somehow, both years we managed with compass, depth sounder, and log to find our way between San Miguel island and Wilson rock and reef and out around Richardson Rock without running into anything or incurring any damage to our boat. Most others were not so lucky. We tacked around instead of gybing and did not set a chute at night. The boat ended up as wet below as topside.
Starting at 1100 hrs on the Saturday of Labor
Day weekend we would finish in front of the PBYC clubhouse in the wee hours
on Monday with most of the crew vowing never to do it again.