by Rich Roberts
Cal 20 Class Championship hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach, CA is being held between 11 and 14 August 2011.
Keith Ives leads the fleet - Cal 20 Class Championship 2011
Keith Ives won two of his three races Friday to lead the qualification round followed by a flock of former class champions in the next several places.
Did he feel the heat?
Ives laughed and said, 'Once you get out in front it's easy.'
Ives, sailing with Chuck Stevens as crew, is seeking his first Cal 20 title, while the gang behind him won't really apply the heat until the racing gets totally serious with seven races over Saturday and Sunday. All Friday accomplished was to separate 43 boats into Gold and Silver fleets that will return to the windward-leeward race course in the outer harbor behind the breakwater, along with enough Bronze competitors expected to top the magic level of 50 entries for the golden anniversary event.
The past winners closest behind Ives Friday - Mark Golison, Jib Kelly, Chuck Clay and Mark Gaudio - have free passes into the regatta and didn't really need to be out there Friday. Another, Chris Raab, wasn't racing but planned to when it counts.
It may not be as easy to get out in front now, but Ives and Stevens made it look that way from the git-go Friday with a 40-second victory.
'We just did a lot of rig tuning,' Ives said.
For the weekend the low key Bronze fleet will join in the fun with two races Saturday and one Sunday.
The boats were divided into four groups for Friday's qualifying, rotating match-ups so everyone would race against everybody else. The top 25, including all past winners, will go into the Gold contest, the others into the Silver.
Most of the racers would settle for Friday's conditions - five knots of wind from the south building to seven for the second and then 12 as the breeze shifted right to the southwest for the third go-round.
Golison, with wife Jennifer as crew, was pleased with his 2-3-3 string of finishes because, he said, 'The last time we'd sailed a Cal 20 was two years ago.'
He won in 2003 and 2004 in the same boat that wasn't exactly the same boat he's sailing this weekend.
'We were a two-time winner for the ugliest boat,' Golison said. 'That's why we named it Bandini Mountain.'
The boat has received an upgrade since then, including replacing the 10-year-old rigging for this event.
'It felt really good today,' Golison said. 'We were sailing a little light with just Jennifer and me, but we'll have Chris Collins with us [Saturday and Sunday].'
'Just gotta get the kinks out,' he said.
Chuck Clay, the class president who put the regatta together, finally had a chance to enjoy it with a 6-1-2 day. He and Kelly finished tied for third, two points behind Ives.
'Conditions were really interesting,' Clay said. 'It was saying 'go right' but we came back real good in one race going left. It was a great Long Beach day.'
A quick history
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.
Cal 20 Class Association website