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World’s longest river race sets sail on Saturday

Absolutely the coolest thing about the Mug Race is that anybody who can get to the banks of the St. Johns on Saturday can watch for free.

Absolutely the coolest thing about the Mug Race is that anybody who can get to the banks of the St. Johns on Saturday morning can watch for free.

You’re in luck this weekend.

The 61st Mug, sponsored by the Rudder Club of Jacksonville, sets sail tomorrow.

A May tradition, the Mug is the world’s longest river race for sailboats at 38.5 miles

As always race runs on the St. Johns River from Palatka down river to the Rudder Club’s headquarters at the Buckman Bridge (I-295) in Orange Park.

Not your usual boat race

Programmed as a pursuit race, the Mug begins with a staggered start with the slowest boats starting first.

In order to win, the fastest boats must catch and pass the slower ones. All boats are handicapped using the Rudder Club’s time on distance formula.

Even though there are many styles of boats entered – from keelboats to spinnakers – two rules apply to them all.

One is that no mast can be taller than 44 feet, the clearance of the Shands Bridge at Green Cove Springs, the lowest bridge on the course.

The other is that use of onboard engines is strictly forbidden.

If the wind dies, or you luff, you’re allowed to either scull with an oar or put a swimmer in the water to tow the boat.

Combine the skill of racing in tight formation with the rainbow colors of the sails, and you have a spectacle to keep you entertained for the whole morning.

The first boat to cross the finish line wins the Mug Trophy, usually awarded around 10:30 a.m.

  • Commodore’s Trophy – First Rudder Club boat to finish
  • Palatka Chamber of Commerce Trophy – First multihull cruiser to finish
  • Sullivan E. Howard Trophy – First dinghy (non cruising class monohull) to finish
  • Archie Markland Trophy – First monohull cruiser to finish
  • Bobbie Lee Johnson Trophy – First all-female crewed boat to finish
  • Youngest Sailor Trophy – First boat to finish with skipper and all crew under the age of 19
  • Colin MacKenzie Memorial Trophy – First Putnam County resident to finish
  • Corinthian Trophy – Last boat to finish
  • Sportsman’s Trophy – Best sportsman, exemplary race behavior

In addition, the Mug awards over 80 class trophies.

About the Rudder Club

One of the best kept secrets in Greater Jacksonville, the Rudder Club was founded in the 1940s.

The club’s goal is the provide members an affordale place to moor their boats and enjoy the sport of sailing.

All kinds of sailors from recreational to professional are invited to join the Rudder Club.

From buying and maintaining a boat to boating classes for kids as young as eight, the club offers hands-on training with its own fleet of boats as well as a year-round formal and informal races.

61st Annual Mug Race

  • Sat., May 3. Staggered starts beginning at 7:25 a.m. in Palatka
  • Admission: FREE & open to the public
  • Park it on the banks of the St. Johns to watch.
  • Sponsored by the Rudder Club of Jacksonville
  • 8533 Malaga Avenue
  • Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Phone/FAX: 904-264-4094
  • E-Mail:
  • Office Hours:Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Bar Hours:Saturday 12 noon-6 p.m., Sunday 1-5 p.m.


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OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years and knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design. Contact:

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