A long tradition is set to return to Folsom Lake next week. Local sailors and those from afar are set to hit the water for the annual Camellia Cup Regatta on Saturday, April 20. Long referred to by boaters as the “crown jewel” of Folsom Lake, it’s a tradition that has weathered nearly six straight decades through its share of adversities, from drought conditions to inclement weather and more, none of which appear to be an issue this year.

Celebrating its 57th year, the Camellia Cup marks the official start of the boating season in the Sacramento Valley, one that looks to be bountiful when it comes to the spring and summer water supply following a strong storm season. The regatta continues to be one of the major events of the sailing season, kicking off the California Lake series of races of its type.


Hosted by the Folsom Lake Yacht Club (FLYC), the event is a colorful spectacle that provides opportunities for vivid photography and videography as competing sloops hoist multicolored spinnakers on downwind runs throughout the day. This Folsom event is unique compared to other regattas.

Not only do sailors compete in various classes of boats, but they also go head-to-head for the coveted Camellia Cup Championship title as well as the honor of being the Sacramento Valley’s best sailor.


The single-day regatta will host five different races throughout Saturday. Competitors will set sail from Folsom Lake Marina, which is on the east side of Folsom Lake at Browns Ravine, and travel a course that makes the spectacle visible from various parts of the shorelines. While a single sailboat or two is common to spot on a typical weekend at Folsom Lake, this event will decorate the waters with multiple vessels afloat throughout the day.

Before the events begin, sailors check in for the event long before sunrise on sailing day, and there is a routine skipper’s meeting prior to the official start of the event, which takes place from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.


One of the best viewing areas for spectators will be at the picnic area above Hobie Cove, which is accessible by entering Brown’s Ravine. However, the many vessels will be visible from areas such as Granite Bay, Beals Point, and others over the two-day stint.


Sailboat classes competing in the regatta routinely vary from eight to 25 feet, including Banshees, Lasers, Lido 14s, Thistles, Daysailers, Santana 20s, Catalina 22s, Capri 22s and 25s, Cal 22s and 250s, Wavelength 24s, and various types of sport and multihull boats.

Last year, Wayne Cassingham of Star, Idaho, sailed his Banshee, appropriately named “Cruizin,” to victory at Folsom. Cassingham represented the Idaho Sailing Association in the competition. He finished first in the six-boat Banshee Class to win the Open Centerboard perpetual trophy and take home his first Camellia Cup as the regatta’s overall champion.


Winning the Open Keel perpetual trophy and the Non-Spinnaker Class was Michael Rayfuse of the Folsom Lake YC on his Catalina 22, and atop the Spinnaker class on a Santana 20 was Mark Werder of FLYC. The winning Open Centerboard class boat was a Daysailer, skippered by Steve Lowry of the Fresno YC.

Historically, as many as 350 vessels have participated in the Camellia Cup. The oldest sailor to win the event was 86 years old in 2013. The youngest winner was 17 in 2008.

Looking ahead to race day. It appears Mother Nature will welcome the 57th rendition of then sailing classic.  Weather officials from the Sacramento office of the National Weather Service have forecasted sunny skies on Saturday. Forecasted temperatures show a high of 80-degrees during the day. Winds are forecasted to be south, southwest and range from 5 to 10 miles per hour.

To participate in the annual Camellia Cup, sailors can learn all the rules, entry fees, and specifics at the yacht club’s official website at www.flyc.org. 

There is no charge to spectate at the event, with the exception of entrance fees at Brown’s Ravine or other parks around the shorelines.

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan has over 25 years of professional journalism and content creation experience in which he has earned 37 professional awards. He is the co-founder/publisher of Folsom Times an All Town Media LLC product.