by Rich Roberts
A pair of onlookers summed up the state of the 50th Cal 20 Class Championship hosted by the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club after Saturday's racing.
Cal 20 Class Championship 2011
'Oh, my God!' shrilled a proud mom. 'I can't believe it. This is so thrilling.'
And the ABYC commodore, Jeff Merrill, punned with a straight face: 'The Ives have it.'
Keith Ives, 41, and crew Chuck Stevens, sailing Rubber Dog, jumped into first place on Day 2 by winning the first of four races on a string of 1-8-3-5 consistency.
Then big brother Jeff Ives, 48, on Bravura with crew Phil Soma, won two of the next three with a little less consistency (12-1-11-1) to sit eight points behind with three races remaining Sunday.
The event has topped its goal of 50 boats for the 50th championship, totaling 53 after final Bronze class entries were filed Saturday. Following Friday's qualifying races there are 25 boats in the championship Gold fleet, 20 in the Silver--- -and eight in the Bronze group enjoying a more recreational approach with only three races overall.
The Ives family is an institution in Long Beach sailing, led by father Pete who not only races recreationally but has long been involved in the administrative side off the water and the jurisdictional side as a judge on the water.
'I taught [Keith] some of what he knows,' Jeff Ives said. 'We help each other.'
But will they be knocking heads Sunday?
'We try to stay away from match racing with each other,' Jeff said. 'He's too good.'
Soma has been sailing with Jeff Ives for 'about 25 years,' he said, starting as kids on the Ives family boat.
Then it was Keith's turn to talk: 'Boy, that was [Jeff's] best day of sailing in his life, I think.'
In fact, Jeff will have a battle to stay in second place, with three others---Kenny Dair of Cabrillo Beach YC, Cal 20 class president Chuck Clay of ABYC and Mark Golison of ABYC only one, three and four points behind. Golison, who won the only race the Ives brothers didn't, and Clay are past class champions.
One thing they all agreed on was that Saturday was tough racing. The warm wind started at eight knots but stayed south and never built into the double figures of typical Long Beach sea breeze as it did in Friday's qualifying rounds.
'What a fluky day,' Keith Ives said, 'really shifty. The wakes [from weekend cruisers] were everywhere.'
Another former champion, Chris Raab, is competing in the Silver class with those who, like Tiger Woods, missed the cut Friday. Raab, also a world-class sailor in Lasers, could easily outperform the rest of the Silver group, but in an act of class he assigned the steering to his crew, Tom Armbruster while he pulled ropes and such.
'He'd never had a tiller in his hand,' Raab said, grinning.
They are tied for fourth.
'If I would have listened to him we might have done better,' Armbruster said.
The California 20 was designed by C. William Lapworth in 1960 and went into production in 1961. It quickly became the most popular of the Cal line of fiberglass sailboats; 1,945 were built. Most of the production occurred throughout the 60s when the Jensen Marine factory in Costa Mesa, Calif. was turning out as many as one boat a day.
A lot of people wanted an active, simple, inexpensive one-design class boat that wasn't going to be outdated by the next measurement rule change. Today the Cal 20 enjoys popularity throughout North America as both a competitive and fun one-design racer and a stable and forgiving day sailer. The beauty of the Cal 20 is its simplicity. It can be raced with just two people in lighter air and three people in moderate to heavier winds. Even today the resale value of a good, clean Cal 20 is approximately what the same boat might have cost new 30 years ago.
In recent years some owners have spent up to $15,000 on performance modifications, especially streamlining the lead keel, slicking up the hull and running control lines below deck. Nowadays the class by-laws dictate measurements, including keel and rudder profiles.