Lasers streaked across Folsom Lake during the Folsom Lake Yacht Club’s 57th Camellia Cup regatta Saturday afternoon, but it was not the lasers most are familiar with unless you are in the sport of sailing. Winning the cup was San Francisco’s Elliot Drake of CFYC who sailed in the nine-boat Laser class. It was the second occasion in the venerable cup’s history that a Laser skipper was declared regatta champion.

Elliot posted two firsts in moderate to light breezes, then finished third in the final race before winds died. Despite sailing in conditions that varied from 10 knots to nothing, the Laser fleet was true to its reputation of being full of skilled sailors. They battled aggressively across the lake in a Laser light show of masterful sailing.


At the starting line in the first race, the Laser fleet forced Santa Rosa sailor Courtney Clamp of the Richmond Yacht Club over early, but she recovered and clawed back to take third. Hanging tight with Drake throughout the regatta was San Jose’s Toshinari Takayanagi of RYC who was second in the first two races and nipped Drake for first in the final of three races sailed by the Lasers. Takayanagi’s heroics were too little and too late to prevent Drake from getting his name engraved on the Centerboard Perpetual Trophy and the Camellia Cup.  

Keelboat champion was FLYC’s Gary Preston of Sacramento whose Hunter 270 crew noticed a late change of course shortly before the start of the second race and sailed a reaching course in a fresh breeze to the southwest, while then-keelboat-leader FLYC’s Phil Hodgson from Rescue, on a Wavelength 24, missed the course change and charged in brisk breezes toward the wrong mark. By the time Hodgson noticed his error it was too late, as the shifting winds had weakened and he was too far the wrong way to get back and overtake Preston.

Elliot Drake leads the Laser fleet at Camellia Cup 2024 on Folsom Lake. Photos by Laura-Ann Charlot.

Multihull Champion was Granite Bay’s Jon Kim, sailing his Corsair F24 with no competition. Winner of the four-boat Open Keel Blue Fleet was Gold Country Yacht Club’s Don Hare on a Catalina 22 from Roseville. The Open Centerboard class winner was Granite Bay’s Douglas McWilliams, sailing a Flying Dutchman and representing the Lake Washington Sailing Club. Finishing atop the five-boat Banshee class was El Dorado Hills’ Kerry Johnson of FLYC who traded races with Folsom’s Jeff Nelson of FLYC who was leading in the third race and was only 30 yards from the finish line when the race’s two-hour time limit expired.

Soon after the start of the third race, “the wind shut off like a switch” said FLYC Principal Race Officer Mark Werder. He held the other fleets “hoping for wind that never came” then watched the Banshees struggle back toward the finish line in a drifter whose winds, Werder said, “never returned.”


Twenty-six sailboats competed in six classes in the 57th Camellia Cup, the longest-running sailboat regatta in the Sacramento Valley.


A smaller version of Camellia Cup is run by the Sacramento Model Yacht Club, competing with 8.5-foot-long replicas of America’s Cup J-class yachts of the 1930s. 

This year’s Model Yacht CamCup was moved to Bridgeway Lakes in West Sacramento due to high water on Folsom Lake. Winning the fifth running of the model yacht version of CamCup at Bridgeway Lakes, during 10 races held in fresh breezes, was Paul Brown of Elk Grove.

FLYC Commodore Rob Cram presents the 2024 Camellia Cup to Champion Sailor Elliot Drake. Photos by: Laura-Ann Charlot
57th Camellia Cup Results:
E. Drake, CFYC – 5 pts (CamCup Champion, Centerboard Champion)
T. Takayanagi, RYC, Voyager – 5 pts
C. Clamp, RYC – 14 pts
C. Simenstad, RYC – 15 pts
R. O’Brien, CAF – 15 pts
I. Schillebeeckx, RYC, Nico – 17 pts
T. Burden, RYC, Seven of Nine – 20 pts
M. Sloane, SSC, Humble Pie – 20 pts
S. Aguilar, LWSC, Single With Baggage – 27 pts
K. Johnson, FLYC, Blue Light Special – 3 pts
J. Nelson, FLYC, Herkimer – 3 pts
R. Cram, FLYC, Yahoo! – 6 pts
J. Gouveia, FLYC, Nauti Buoy – 9 pts
O. Biondi, FLYC, Blue’s Clews – 9 pts
Open Centerboard
D. McWilliams, LWYC, Flying Dutchman, Longshot – 3 pts
R. Craig, RYC, Lido 14, Glory  – 3 pts
Open Keel – Blue
D. Hare, GCYC, C22, No Cat Hare – 3 pts
M. Rayfuse, FLYC, C22, Sirius – 3 pts
D. Hewitt, FLYC, C22, Shark Bait – 6 pts
M. Shaw, FLYC, Vagabond 17, Slipaway – 9 pts
Open Keel – Red
G. Preston, FLYC, Hunter 270, Charmed Life – 3 pts (Keelboat Champion)
B. Curran, FLYC, Catalina 250, Malahat – 6 pts
P. Hodgson, FLYC, WL24, Te Natura – 7 pts
M. Fitzgerald, FLYC, Capri 22, Layla – 7 pts
S. Young, FLYC, Hunter 23.5, PuraVida – 8 pts
J. Kim, FLYC, Corsair F24, After You – 2 pts (Multihull Champion)
J Class (Model Yachts)
P. Brown, SMYC, Svea – 11 pts (Model Yacht Champion)
D. Robinson, SMYC, Svea – 19 pts
J. Hancock, SMYC,  Svea-  29 pts
G. Novak, SMYC, Svea – 31 pts
B. Eger, Svea – 52 pts
Elliot Drake, 2024 Camellia Cup Champion. Photos by Laura-Ann Charlot.
Elliot Drake rounds mark #2 during the 2024 Camellia Cup on Folsom Lake. Photos by Laura-Ann Charlot
Elliot Drake trims his sail while rounding mark #2 on Folsom Lake. Photos by Laura-Ann Charlot
John Poimiroo
Author: John Poimiroo

John Poimiroo is an award winning freelance writer and a resident of El Dorado Hills.