by Rick Roberts
The 51st Cal 20 Class Championship is set to take place from the 16th-19th August at the Long Beach Yacht Club.
Do you think sailboat racing is strictly a rich-man’s sport or that sailboats are too expensive to buy and race? Not true if we’re talking about a Cal 20. For between $1,500-$4,000 you can pick up a good used one… usually including the trailer and sails!
Friday through Sunday Long Beach Yacht Club hosts a fleet of these sturdy little boats in Long Beach Harbor for the 2012 Cal 20 Class Championship, proving that sailboat racing can be intense, competitive, fun and---best of all---not cost a fortune.
Back to defend his 2011 win is local sailor Keith Ives who is very aware of the difference in racing and maintaining his Cal 20 versus the bigger ocean racing sleds. Ives frequently skippers Bob Lane’s Andrews 63, Medicine Man, on which he has proved his driving skills in big-boat racing in several Transpac’s, Cabo and Ensenada races including the 2008 Tahiti race in which they were one of two boats that beat the elapsed time race record.
'It’s good to sail both boats,' Ives said, 'because it helps a lot in figuring time and distance. The more you sail, the better you get. I originally bought the Cal 20 because I felt that in sailing the big boat I was sometimes out of touch with the true feel of the boat.'
In the 2011 regatta going into the last day it seemed like Ives and his longtime crew Chuck Stevens had the whole thing sewn up. With an almost unbeatable 18 points they figured all they had to do was cruise to victory.
However in the next-to-last race the wind piped up out of the southwest at 15 knots accompanied by chop and whitecaps, pushing the Cal 20s to their limits. Ives and Stevens tangled with a couple of other boats at the windward mark.
'We almost took our rig down,' Ives said.
Leaving nothing to chance, Ives is always looking to improve on their performance.
'We’re hoping we have a good regatta,' Ives said, 'and we’ve been on the water in our Cal 20 a lot this year to make that happen. In fact, we’ve done more this year than any year before. We’ve been working on the hull, our rigging, new sails… and have been racing as much as possible especially in the Wet Wednesday races. Those races have been such good practice for us.'
Hoping they won’t get the heavier breezes they experienced last year, Ives said, 'We always sail a little light. Most of the boats take three people out on them. We only have the two of us and we might be about 50-75 pounds lighter, which is okay in normal breeze.'
Racing begins each day at noon and takes place near the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier between oil islands Chaffee and Freeman.