McNish Classic Yacht Race celebrates 45 years


OXNARD, Calif. — Wooden sailboats up and down the coast took part in the 45th McNish Classic Yacht Race, hosted by the Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club in the Channel Islands harbor on Saturday.

Long-time volunteer Brenda Dickmann said: “It really is the highlight of the harbor for me, and the yacht club, all the sailors, nothing better than this race.”

It is named after longtime sailor Dick McNish who brought his Jersey Mike crew subs out for lunch.

“It’s 45th year, it’s been a lot of years, I don’t know if I could do 5 more to make 50, that would be nice,” the 95-year-old said, “It’s a great day, hopefully the wind is 10-15 and we’ll have a great race.”

McNish’s classic yacht is the Cheerio II.

“Cheerio is fine, she’s always ready to go.”

Cheerio II is a 1931 yawl, meaning it’s a two-masted sailboat, once owned by screen legend Errol Flynn.

The PCYC yacht club crew and friends also consider McNish a legend.

Kevin Dickmann has moved away, but returns to Oxnard to Captain the Cheerio II and spend time with McNish.

“He embodies what a sailor is, what a yacht club is and the love of wooden boats, which is why we are here today.”

An all-wooden motorboat also served as the starting boat.

The race began with a staggered start from Silver Strand Beach.

This is when the slower sailboats leave earlier than the faster ones.

PCYC member Flo Beck usually accompanies, but this time she watched from the shore.

“What I love is the excitement when we run, Dick loves the water.”

They had to contend with some weekend traffic in the Channel Islands harbor as they sailed through the sea layer.

The Mcnish Classic persevered during the COVID precautions.

Some people collect T-shirts from every race.

The winning sailor wins his weight in champagne and that day CF Koehler, of San Diego won on a sloop, with one mast, named Sally.

But all of the sailors who have competed in the annual race generally feel like a winner just by competing on race day.


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