Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week 2016 – Like the parting of the Red Sea, the overcast skies opened just long enough for Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week (LBRW) to pull off the first two races of the annual three-day event. With the sun came the breeze: a modest six to 10 knots, but enough for lively and competitive racing.
This popular regatta is co-hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club (ABYC) and Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC) – who coincidentally ended the day in first and second places (respectively) in the coveted Yacht Club Challenge.
“The pressure’s on!” said Chuck Clay, co-captain of Team ABYC. His club has won the Yacht Club Challenge five times since 2008 and is the current defending champion.
Awarded “based on cumulative scoring of teams composed of three yachts competing in three separate classes,” the Yacht Club Challenge rules stipulate one of the boats must be a Catalina 37. But because there are just nine of these particular one-design keelboats participating, they double-up. Team ABYC is competing as part of four different teams, putting the pressure on, according to Clay. “They’re all banking on us to do well.”
“It’s a fun one to win, for bragging rights – especially between ABYC and LBYC,” added Clay. “We have a great rivalry: we’re very competitive on the water, but friendly ashore.” ABYC’s strategy is, he continued, “you sail your own race the first two days and let the chips fall as they may,” and on the last day, count the points and hone in on who you have to beat.
While many of the Catalina 37 competitors sail these custom boats in weekly beer can races, ABYC does not. “Once a year, we just show up for this and kick butt,” Clay taunted.
They finished the day with a slight two-point margin over LBYC, with a second LBYC team a close third.
Another 100-plus boats are also competing in LBRW, on three different windward-leeward and random leg courses. LBRW has been a popular event since 1980, with “tight racing and fun parties” according to race organizers – who go to great lengths to discourage protests. In addition to on-the-water atonement, the clubs mandate any protest first go through arbitration. “The parties are a lot more fun than the protest room,” reminded ABYC Commodore Latham Bell. At press time only one protest was being heard, pertaining to two Farr 40s; one other had been withdrawn.
In PHRF B class the J/35 Rival took two bullets while Relapse got the gun twice in Flying Tigers. Elsewhere results were mixed: please visit website for a full tally of scores and event details; go to Long Beach Race Week
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by Betsy Crowfoot