RCYC members have built a well-regarded racing program over the decades, with an emphasis on longer distance racing. Currently, the racing program features three flagship events, the RCYC Frostbite regatta held in March, the RCYC Medium Distance race held in May, and the two-day RCYC Long Distance Race held in September. In addition, the club sponsors several beer can races for the racing community, as well as casual intra-club races for our members. Whether you are a hard-core racer, or simply prefer fun competition among friends, RCYC racing provides something for everyone, at all levels of interest and skill. Entry to all club races is free to members.

I. History of RCYC Racing

Coming soon.

II. RCYC Frostbite Regatta

RCYC kicks off the racing season with this traditional one-day regatta held in March. Races are held on the river in front of the club, and generally consist of 4-5 short races around marks set by the club race committee, followed by a BBQ social event at the clubhouse. This regatta is often challenging due to the early spring conditions, which means strong current and unsettled winds, and the presence of many fishing boats.

III. RCYC Medium Distance Race

This challenging race starts right at the RCYC breakwater, and heads upriver against the still-strong May current, past several islands, under the I-205 bridge, to round a special mark near Lady Island at the entrance to the Columbia River Gorge, then back to the finish line at the breakwater, for a total distance of approximately 15 miles. Often the winner is the boat that most ably uses current relief found behind several wing dams and islands. In many years, the conditions make it difficult for some or all competitors to finish before time expires. But win, lose or finish, everyone seems to have a grand time, and to enjoy the post-race BBQ at the club house.

IV. Harry Brault Memorial Long Distance Race

This two-day race in early September is considered the ne plus ultra of long distance racing on the river. Starting just past the confluence of the Willamette River with the Columbia, the racers beat downriver against the prevailing northwesterlies approximately 15 miles to round the northern tip of Sand Island, near the City of St. Helens, to finish with a brief but usually thrilling spinnaker run at the Sand Island docks. Hundreds of sailors convene on the docks for a post-race party, and most spend the night either camping on the island or snug in their berths. The next morning the racers arise (some the worse for the night’s festivities, alas), and the next leg starts, racing downriver to round the northern tip of Sand Island, and the beginning of what is often a 15-mile spinnaker duel back upriver. A classic event, the Long Distance is a fitting culmination to the summer racing season.

V. Overview of Racing on the Columbia River

The RCYC racing program is only one part of the larger Portland-area racing community, which offers year-round races and events. Here is a brief overview of the larger racing community.

A number of clubs organize races on the river. Their efforts are coordinated by an umbrella organization, the Oregon Corinthian Sailing Association (OCSA), which hosts the main website, OCSA also publishes the racebook and local racing rules, provides a protest resolution process, offers training events and lectures, and hosts the big year-end awards party, the Tropical Party, in November. All boats that race in the scored events listed in the OCSA Racebook must be members of OCSA. Membership is very cheap (currently $20). Individual clubs also charge fees, either to enter individual races or regattas, or for membership (which usually entails free entry into races).

RCYC is one of at least five clubs that run local races, each of which specializes in particular types of races or events.

• The Small Yacht Sailing Club of Oregon (SYSCO) runs three race series from April to August, focusing on short-course buoy racing during the week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays evenings. Membership in SYSCO is inexpensive (currently $120 per year) and gains members free entry into dozens of races. Best bang for the buck.
• The Portland Yacht Club (PYC) offers several weekend regattas, including Opening Day and two fall regattas.
• The Corinthian Yacht Club of Oregon (CYC) organizes the Oregon Offshore race, from Astoria to Victoria, BC, and specializes in offshore races. CYC also hosts the Sail on Sundays (SOS) series, which runs from October to March, and offers casual races on Sunday afternoons starting right outside the RCYC breakwater. SOS has no entry fees, and is a great way to keep away the winter blues or gain racing and boathandling skills without committing to a formal race.
• The Willamette Sailing Club (WSC) offers dinghy racing on the Willamette River for youth and adult sailors, but also sometimes operates dinghy and keelboat races on the Columbia.
• Beer Cans. The clubs rotate hosting beer cans on Saturday afternoons during most weekends of the summer. A great way to get some experience racing in a casual environment without all the stress and fuss. Free to all.