It’s a tradition that has weathered nearly six straight decades and overcame its share of adversities, from drought conditions, inclement weather and more. Through it all, the annual Camellia Cup continues to be one a crown jewel of Folsom Lake that sails into action this week.

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Celebrating its 56th year, the Camellia Cup marks the official start of boating season in the Sacramento Valley. The latest version of this event should be a banner year with Folsom Lake still on the rise, being fueled by record snow and rainfall for months to come. 

As the historical weather seems to have cleared the region, just in time for this famed competition that will bring  50 or more sailing vessels upon the water and is a joy for residents to see from the shorelines all weekend long.

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“For sailors in the Sacramento area, this is the start of the sailing season,” said John Poimiroo of the Folsom Lake Yacht Club. “At this event, there are some really experienced competitors. It is a great way to improve your sailing ability and it is great for people who love sailing.”

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 in the way of regattas compared to other competitions. 

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

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The two-day affair traditionally several races throughout the day on both Saturday and Sunday. Competitors will set sail from Browns Ravine Marina, which is on the east side of Folsom Lake, and travel a course that will make the spectacle visible from various parts of the shorelines. 

According to Poimiroo, entries are up for this year’s event already and the excitement around it is brewing.

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“We have strong early registrations, so this should be a good race, “ said Poimiroo. “Water levels are typical of Folsom Lake this time of year. This year, however, any draw down will be minor as there’s abundant storage in the snowpack.”

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

The start of the race and throughout the day, plenty of viewing and photo opportunities become available as Folsom’s blue waters are decorated with a fleet of vessels that are visible from the shores of Folsom and Granite Bay throughout the afternoon.

One concern organizers have this year and plan to address is the water temperature. Due to the snowpack, temperatures in the lake are much colder that in recent years. 

“As more snowmelt will be running through the lake and that will continue longer into the year than usual. This means, boaters of all kinds need to be mindful of wearing personal floatation devices. This is particularly important to those swimming in the American River his year as well. The ultra-cold temps will last well into summer.”

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 of Granite Bay, Beals Point and others over the two-day stint.

Sailboat classes competing in the regatta 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. 

Model sailboats from the Sacramento Model Yacht Club will compete separately near Hobie Cove on Saturday and Sunday. 

Last year, Camellia Cup ended in rare fashio, with two different teams finishing in a tie for the title of the 2022 event championship. The husband-and- wife team of Steve and Pat Galeria from Lincoln shared the honors with Sacramento’s Charles Witcher.

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.

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 standard entry fee into the various state parks to access 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.