The crew aboard the author’s Moore 24, Skosh, including baby Andrei.

When we moved from Santa Cruz to Lake Chelan late last year, we were thrilled to find the Lake Chelan Sailing Association (LCSA). For $40 per year and four hours of volunteer work, our little family could make use of the many club boats that are conveniently located at the Lakeside Marina.

It took us a while to figure out that there would be no sailing until June when the lake level comes up enough to launch the boats. When we first met Russ Jones at the boat check-out in late May, we were amazed at how laid back and inviting the whole scene was — nothing to sign, no politics, just good old sailing. That’s when he told us about the one and only regatta that LCSA holds each year, the weekend after Labor Day. As people who were used to racing almost every weekend, we knew we had to be there.

Lake Chelan is a heavenly destination with the Cascades in the background, crystal clear waters, hills of fresh fruit, and a quiet little town full of charm. Once Labor Day passes, the power boats, jet skis, flotillas, and people in general seem to disappear, making way for sailboats to enjoy the lake wake and traffic free.

When everyone started showing up on Friday to launch, they were greeted by Russ, who diligently applies for the event permit every year and, by some miracle, gets the city to waive launch and parking fees for all the sailors. It was great to see the variety of boats including Moore 24s, Tasars, Flying Scots, Capris, San Juans, and a Buccaneer. A couple local people also took out the club Ranger 16 and Hunter 216. All in all, 19 boats showed up for this event, which was definitely more than we were expecting.

Russ and his wife, Debbie, are the most hospitable people you could ever meet — letting sailors camp out on their nut farm on top of the Chelan River Gorge. It was awesome to see so many tents set up underneath big chestnut trees on plush green grass. The night was spent playing music, enjoying beverages, and getting to know each other off the water.

The Bradens’ Moore 24, More Uff Da

On the water, there was a great showing from people of all ages — even the famous sailing doggie, Dakota, and one-year old baby Andrei. The marks were fixed going up and down the lake and the start/finish line was on either side of the Race Committee, the biggest sailboat on the lake, Wild Cider. We wondered how this was going to work out, but because of all the changes in wind direction, it was by far the easiest way for the committee to get as many races in as they did.

The wind here, which is usually shifty and variable, really allowed sailors to show their skills, as almost every race presented a different set of challenges. We were lucky, winds were a steady 6-8 knots with an occasional 10-knot puff on Saturday (great breeze by Lake Chelan standards). The race committee did an amazing job getting five races in — I only remember doing that many races in one day in the Laser fleet back in California. Some boats seemed to catch magic puffs and others somehow made big gains in the shifts coming off the hills. It made for some very competitive and fun sailing with the Corinthian spirit high and great sportsmanship all around. By the end of the day, we were ready to jump in the water for a nice swim and then crack a cold one.

Sunday was not what we were hoping for, but we all still made the best of it — getting one race off before calling it a day. Most of the boats that attended were road warriors and welcomed the extra time to get their boats ready for departure.

Moore 24 sailors gather post-race.

This fun-focused regatta is not a points race for most classes, although the San Juans have a perpetual trophy for this event. Protests were discouraged — with friendly conversation, or water balloons and water guns, to help guide less experienced sailors. All of the competitors showed an abundance of gratitude to their fellow sailors, race committee, and the Jones family for their hospitality and commitment to this great annual regatta.

The funniest comment of the weekend goes to the Flying Scot who managed to stay up with us Moores on Sunday and said, “I can’t believe a boat that slow makes it to Hawaii!” as he came up behind us. We all shared a chuckle and knew that while our boats may not be the same, we were all here for the same reason; to share a fun weekend of sailing on beautiful Lake Chelan.

Come join us next year for LCSA’s 50th Annual Sailing Regatta! Stay tuned at