by Rich Roberts
The upbeat of multihull racing launched by the current America's Cup competition at San Francisco reaches 405 miles south to Long Beach this coming week with the International A-Class Catamaran North American Championship hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club Tuesday through Friday, Aug. 13-16.
A-Cats show stuff in Long Beach
No ballasted monohull 'lead mines' here. The A-Cats are the fastest singlehanded racing multihulls in the world with speeds measured as fast as 24 knots.
The difference here is this won't be match racing like up north but fleet racing, with 18 boats from across the continent scheduled for 10 races over the four days, starting at 1 p.m. each day on windward-leeward courses either inside or outside the breakwater, conditions permitting.
Early in the AC challenger trials, there is still skepticism whether multihulls can be match-raced competitively.
If the boats are close to equal, ABYC veteran multihull sailor John Williams once said, 'I think it would be an exciting America's Cup. A match race is between two equal boats.'
Another ABYC member, Jay Glaser, who crewed for Randy Smyth when they won silver in the 1984 Olympics on these same waters, has said, 'To say you can't match race in multihulls, that's not true. The people that don't sail them have to be educated.'
Meantime, Glaser will be fleet racing his A-Cat this week, along with Bruce Mahoney of Houston, Tex., who was 12th in last year's 74-boat class worlds at Islamorada, Fla. and is the highest American finisher competing here. The event was won by Mischa Heemserk of the Netherlands and dominated by Australians.
Also in the hunt: Mark Struble of San Diego, who was 24th in those worlds and has won recent competitions staged by ABYC.
Another local favorite would be ABYC's Pete Melvin, who won the A-Cat worlds at Long Beach in 1997 and France in 2005 but is tied up this summer monitoring Artemis New Zealand in the America's Cup. He was the lead designer of the Kiwi boat, confident that multihulls can be match-raced.