by Rich Roberts
For Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week, running Friday through Sunday, 'Race with the champions' is the lure - with the prospect that if you do it often enough, you'll become one.
2013 Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week
It worked for Larry Spencer, who recalled his first Olson 30 Nationals in 1990 when 'I didn't do very well. There were 27 boats and I finished 26th.' But persistence paid off. Now, at age 55, he has won seven Nationals, including last year when his Blue Star swept all seven races in this competition. 'We'll just see if we can do it one more time,' he said.
The Oxnard sailor from Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club is among 153 current entries and all 14 monohull winners returning this year to the West Coast's largest keelboat regatta. Online entry has expired but late entries may be filed in person at the Long Beach Yacht Club on Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. or Friday from 8 until 10 a.m.
The regatta is co-hosted by the adjacent LBYC and Alamitos Bay Yacht Clubs.
Prominent are six J/Boat one-design classes, including the local J/70s debut; the aggressive Farr 40s led by Jeff Janov's Dark Star, the three-time West Coast class champion; ocean racers like Peter Tong's OEX, a Santa Cruz 68, and Bob Lane's Medicine Man, an Andrews 63, in the Random Leg distance class, and feisty small-boat groups of 25 Vipers and a dozen Open 5.70s.
Among the titles at stake: the Open 5.70 North American championship, Catalina 37 national championship, Olson 30 national championship, Farr 40 West Coast championship and Viper 640 Pan-American championship qualifier. Also, the regatta is part of the Southern California High Point Series for the J/80, J/105, J/109 and J/120 classes.
All 10 of the Long Beach Sailing Foundation's Catalina 37s, better known for world-class Congressional Cup match racing, have been chartered for fleet racing by teams from Arizona, Washington state and throughout California. Chuck Clay's ABYC team is defending champion.
Spencer heads the seven-boat Olson 30 fleet, with veteran big boat racer Todd Downey on board for tactics and other tips. He's not counting on repeating his sweep.'It was the first time a boat in the Olson 30 Nationals swept every race,' he said. 'Every year a sleeper shows up.'
Racing will be on three courses in the Long Beach outer harbor set inside and outside the port's Federal breakwater. Each day's competition will be followed by onshore parties hosted by the yacht clubs with free shuttle boat service across Alamitos Bay between the two clubs. Parties will be at ABYC Friday night and LBYC the next two nights.
The forecast fits the onset of summer with temperatures warming to as high as 86F. and moderate southwest winds of seven to nine knots.