What to bring when sailing Vanguard 15s on Clipper Cove

Ensuring that the cold never bothers you anyway

Al Sargent
Jun 17, 2014 · 6 min read

Our Vanguard 15 racing venue of Clipper Cove, at Treasure Island Sailing Center (TISC), on Treasure Island, can have a range of conditions. And not when you’d expect, either: we’ve had shorts days in April, and wetsuit-and-dry top days in August. If you’re showing up to race, you want to ensure you have gear that covers the full spectrum of possible conditions so you’re ready to put everything you have into sailing the boat, and have a good time doing so.

It’s hard to overemphasize how wet a Vanguard 15 can be when sailing upwind in breeze. If you’re sailing the boat flat and hiking out hard, you’re inches above the water, planing upwind at maybe 5 or 6 knots, with the breeze carrying the spray at you at 20 knots apparent. Imagine getting sprayed down with a saltwater firehose for five minutes, and you get the idea. It’s a lot of fun, but it helps to be dressed for it.

As for gear, here’s what I bring, starting from roughly bottom to top:

One crew in our fleet wears a neoprene kiteboarding jacket over her full wetsuit. She’s never bummed on cold windy days. If you’re often cold even with a full wetsuit, this is a good choice to consider.

Bring a beach towel so you can change in the parking lot at TISC. There are changing rooms available, but since they’re a bit of a hike from the parking lot, most folks just change at their car.

To ensure I don’t forget anything, before packing I lay out all my gear in a line, ordered by the bottom-most article of clothing (boots) to the topmost (hat). This might seem obsessive, but nothing’s worse than showing up on race day without a key item.

In my lifejacket pockets I stuff in a few things to help with contingencies:

In my top I sometimes carry a bar to stuff down and/or share with my crew between races. (We only get a couple of minutes between races, so stuff down is quite a literal term.)

In the halyard bags, I’ll pack a water bottle each for my crew and myself. We almost always need a few gulps of water after a race. Bike bottles work well since you can use them to squirt the spray of your sunglasses.

I’ll also bring sunscreen, lip balm, a headlamp (for unrigging if we race very late), and a warm jacket or two to wear at dinner after racing. I don’t bring these out onto the water and leave them in my car.

I carry all the above in a plastic crate with a lid, so that after racing I can just dump all the wet clothes into the bin, put the lid on, and the car doesn’t collect funky smells. I also toss in a sneaker ball or two into the bin to further reduce the funky smell.

Post racing, I like to toss my sailing gear into mesh bags, so they don’t get torn up, and wash them in washing machine on a cold, gentle cycle. I also toss my mainsheet and jibsheet into a mesh bag and into the wash to get the salt off and keep them running smoothly. I’ll let all these drip dry.

I’ll also put my leatherman/SOG tool (as well as any fastpins) into an old tupperware container of white vinegar, available from any grocery store, to remove any existing rust and keep any new rust from forming on them.

So there you have it. What do you think? Anything in addition or instead of this list?

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