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Desert Oasis Racing

The AYC Birthday Regatta and 15th Leukemia Cup (January 16-18) promises to serve up three days of blue-sky racing

While landlocked Arizona isn’t exactly a sailing Mecca, this isn’t stopping the Arizona Yacht Club (AYC– arizonayachtclub.org) from celebrating its 55th anniversary in style. The AYC Birthday Regatta and 15th Leukemia Cup (January 16-18) promises to serve up three days of blue-sky racing and “desert hospitality” on the waters of Lake Pleasant for sailors competing in a wide-variety of one design, PHRF (both spinnaker and non-spinnaker) and multihull classes, as well as a cruising division. More than 200 sailors racing aboard 70-plus boats are expected to participate in an event that can legitimately be billed as a wilderness sailing experience. 

The Leukemia Cup racing takes place on Saturday, January 17, with raised monies befitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “For me, there are three things that are just great about the event,” says Dave Scobie of Sage Marine, a multi-year veteran of the event who sails a Sage 17 pocket-cruiser. “First is the incorporation of the Leukemia Cup and gathering funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Second is [that] the AYC does a great job organizing the event from registration, [race committee] and evening activities. Third are the people—great bunch of folks there to enjoy sailing.”

Participating racers can look forward to warm days, plenty of breeze and the rather unusual (for a regatta) nighttime symphony of howling coyotes and daytime sights of saguaro and ocotillo cacti, all against the dramatic backdrop of Arizona’s Black Mountains. “Lake Pleasant is a great location,” says Scobie. “The winds are predictable—strong in the morning from the south, then around noon, the wind dies for about an hour and shifts to the north and builds.” This makes for dynamic conditions—from rail-in-the-water smiles and excitement to desert drifters—that test different skill sets, all while benefitting a great cause and celebrating a fine sailing institution.

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