PBC Annual Model Boat Regatta

2020 Regatta Dates Are Set!

February 8 - February 9, 2020
San Diego, California

Competitors and spectators delight in a successful weekend of racing at the third annual PBC Model Yacht Race sponsored by Kroova.

Competitors and spectators delight in a successful weekend of racing at the third annual PBC Model Yacht Race sponsored by Kroova.

a regatta like no other

Imagine a regatta where the boats are all made up and the race results don’t matter. Include sinking ships, foiling trimarans, daring rescues, and you end up with something that resembles the PBC Annual Yacht Race.

This annual event, hosted by Kroova LLC, requires that all competitors build boats that conform to a simple set of rules. The boats must move under sail power alone, they must be designed and built without the aid of computers, they can only use two servos, and the product of their height, length, and width can be no larger than one cubic meter. Competitors have all year to build fully operational model sailboats that will compete over two days in a series of races.

Keep in mind, this is far from your everyday junkyard boat race. The pool of participants is made up of industry professionals including yacht designers, composite experts, sail makers, and pro sailors. Months in advance, competitors diligently sketch and design finely tuned, high performance racing machines. Theoretical questions of sail plan, hull shape, and the pros and cons of various composite materials are hotly debated.

Boats Racing.JPG

On Friday, the day before the event, a steady stream of competitors begin to trickle in to the host venue – none other than the Kroova office affectionately referred to as “PBC” (”Pacific Beach Composites”) –  which features a build shop, a couch to crash on, and a seemingly endless supply of energy drinks. Some competitors arrive via complementary airport pickup and others via longboard from down the street, all toting various scraps of fiberglass, wood, carbon and heaps of epoxy. Builds vary in states of completion from barely recognizable to nearly operational and the desperate rush to ‘finish’ traditionally takes all night. Hanging in the kitchen, posted on simple printer paper, is a quote from Nikola Tesla that reads, “I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.”

Perhaps the most refreshing and amusing aspect of the overtly absurd event is the format for determining the overall results.  The sailing instructions read as follows: “The results of the regatta will be determined by popular vote, hopefully guided by racing results. There is no guarantee that winning every race will result in a first place finish.”

At the conclusion of racing on Sunday, competitors, spectators, friends, and innocent bystanders gather on the beach to discuss and vote. (The SIs make no mention of restrictions on who is eligible to vote. Consequently all who are present are invited to participate.)

The Annual PBC Yacht Race is undoubtedly absurd, at times irrational, and for a few days a year, notoriously all-consuming. And despite the long nights, disastrous mistakes, and critical failures, the event is a welcome reminder of the incredible potential of the human mind.

View a full video recap of the 2018 Regatta here.

2020 Race Documents can be found here.