Good Conditions, Great Times At Conclusion Of Long Beach Race Week

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If there were any dusty sailors, following Saturday night’s Mount Gay Rum party at Long Beach Yacht Club, it wasn’t evident in the level of racing on the final day of Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week (LBRW).

Competitors greeted the day head-on, with tight racing in 14 classes on three windward-leeward and random leg courses.

Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC) unseated LBRW co-host Alamitos Bay Yacht Club (ABYC) in the Yacht Club Challenge. The trophy is awarded based on the cumulative score of a team of three boats, competing in different classes – one of which must be a Catalina 37. LBYC edged out ABYC by a slim .02 points thanks to a strong performance by Bruce Cooper and his J/70 crew, Medicine Man, and Dave Hood, who clinched his fourth Catalina 37 National Championship title today, in a dog-eat-dog battle with Chuck Clay’s ABYC team.

Insanity won in the Farr 40s, and Jim held off Caper by one point, in J/120s.

One sailor on Code Blue defied the Marine Department’s Shark Advisory against swimming and went for an inadvertent dip at the windward mark. Skipper Robert Marcus and his Code Blue crew were able to retrieve the man and regain some lost ground, to capture the Schock 35 National Championship title.

Marcus noted a revival in the Schock 35 class has been fueled by new boat ownership, and having their own one-design class in LBRW has made, “a huge difference in attracting new owners.” The invigorated class is ramping up with new rules and a program going forward, including future participation in LBRW.

While racing was extremely close in most divisions, including PHRF A where Picosa beat Mexican Divorce by just one point, with E-Ticket two points behind; in other categories the dominance was indisputable. Venom put the squeeze on the 16-boat Viper 640 fleet, while Relapse controlled the Flying Tigers with six bullets and one second place finish. Victor Wild’s Fox outwitted five rivals in the Fast 50s division, and Valkyrie slayed the Sportboat fleet.

Reigning J/70 World Champion Flojito y Cooperando handsomely won the J/70 division, with Bruce Golison’s Midlife Crisis in second and Catapult, owned by Joel Ronning, third. The upcoming J/70 World Championship regatta slated for San Francisco in September, brought LBRW its largest J/70 fleet to date. Winner Julian Fernandez Neckelmann said he had raced LBRW “many times” in the Farr 40 division, but was glad to return with Flojito y Cooperando to tune up for the Worlds saying, “LBRW is a fantastic regatta. It’s a lot of fun and although we expected more breeze, we need to sail in all conditions, so it’s good practice.”

This burgeoning fleet drew several big guns including World Champion Bill Hardesty, on Flojito y Cooperando, and John Kostecki – Olympic medalist, America’s Cup champion, and Rolex Yachtsman of the Year – on Catapult; adding cachet, but also challenge.

“The competition is very tough,” admitted Corinthian sailor Geroge Hershman. Racing in his first regatta on a new J/70 Solarcoaster, he said, “We have a steep learning curve, but I like seeing how I stack up against the pros.” Hershmann has competed in LBRW in other divisions, and his company Swinerton Renewable Engery is a leading sponsor. “As a renewable energy service company, supporting a sport that is environmentally friendly, like sailing, is important to us. And it’s always been a great regatta, with great sailing and a lot of fun.” Herschmann acknowledged the pro talent provides an excellent learning opportunity for Corinthian racers. In that division Chris Raab and Dale Williams proved superlative, in Sugoi.

Some of the most rousing competition took place in the Catalina 37 fleet, where David Hood and his LBYC team struggled to defend their National Championship title.

Going into Sunday’s races, Hood was one point ahead of the rival ABYC Team, but a challenging first race of the day put ABYC and LBYC in a tie. Going into the final race of the regatta, “we were in full match race mode,” said Hood. “We tried to stay close to ABYC, but there was a lot of great racing by the other teams too.”

“It was a chess match, and not your normal Long Beach conditions,” added LBYC tactician Randy Smith. The impact of the marine layer saw the left hand of the course favored more than usual, resulting in “a tricky weekend” compounded by a “minefield of kelp.”

Meanwhile, ABYC had enjoyed a great start in the day’s first race and a promising finish. But the final race was “really intense” said co-skipper Chuck Clay. “It was a full-on tacking duel” with ABYC and LBYC so intent on covering each other, “we dug ourselves to the back of the fleet.” At one point LBYC and ABYC were in seventh and eighth places, in the nine-boat fleet: nearly sacrificing their podium places to a second LBYC team skippered by John Shadden.

But Hood had a better set at the top mark, and “stretched it out” Clay admitted. “It was a super tight regatta, but a lot of fun.”

Hood’s finish helped LBYC triumph in the Yacht Club Challenge. But despite the rivalries, members of both clubs – who have joined forces to help organize and host LBRW since 1980 – celebrated side by side along with races from up and down the coast, on the pool deck of LBYC.

Lise Evaul, who has sailed in LBRW upwards of 25 years, echoed the sentiments of many sailors when she said, “LBRW is fantastic because as sailors, we have a lot of friends in ports near and far that we don’t get see day-to-day. But you know your sailing family will be here every year: everyone comes. And the racing is fantastic too. ABYC and LBYC race committees really care about the sailors and put together good, square courses and great competition, the kind of racing the sailors have come to LBRW for.”.

Ullman Sails LBRW is hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club and Alamitos Bay Yacht Club. Next year’s event will be held June 23 to 25, 2017.

For complete results please go to www.lbrw.org. You can also visit Long Beach Race Week on Facebook, and follow online @lbraceweek #UllmanLBRW.

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