by Rick Roberts
California Dreamin’ Series 2013 third and final stop will begin this Saturday with the 2013 Long Beach Yacht Club Butler Cup Stop Number Two ISAF Grade Three match race hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club.
Dustin Durant (sitting at helm) guns to sweep the California Dreamin’ Series 2013 at Long Beach YC Butler Cup
The three-regatta series began last October with the 2012 LBYC Butler Cup Stop Number One which was won by Dustin Durant, LBYC. The second regatta, the San Diego Yacht Club Stop, Jan. 12-13, was also won by Durant with Dan Aeling, SDYC, finishing the regatta in second place.
Durant and his Long Beach Match Racing team have quite a bit of experience on the Long Beach Sailing Foundation-owned Catalina 37s used in the Butler Cup, Ficker Cup and Congressional Cup. But they experienced a learning curve when they began to compete in other One-Design boats such as the J/22s used by San Diego YC and St. Francis YC.
'I think the California Dreamin’ Series is a good stepping stone to the bigger tougher events,' Durant said. 'In our first Cal Dreamin’ Series a few years ago I think we ended up third. Last year [we finished] second and this year we have won every regatta in the series so far. Our goal is to be the first team to win all three events.'
In February, Durant jumped from 43 to 31 in the world’s match race rankings with his win in the Grade Two ISAF North America and Caribbean Nation’s Cup in Bridgetown, Barbados and is now ranked number three nationally.
That performance opened doors and he was given an invitation to compete in the Grade Two Ficker Cup, April 5-7---also hosted by LBYC--- with the first place prize being an invitation to compete in the Grade One Congressional Cup, April 8-13.
'We have done a great job advancing and have become very versatile when it comes to switching boats and techniques. We made some mistakes in the San Diego regatta, however we were still able to walk away with a win due to our 7-0 first day.'
After this weekend only three skippers will have competed in all three regattas; Durant, David Storrs, Pequot Yacht Club and Bruce Stone, St. Francis Yacht Club. The other five skippers who plan to make another Durant win as difficult as possible are Aeling; Carson Reynolds, Balboa Yacht Club; Dave Hood, LBYC; Shala Lawrence, SDYC and Peter Holz, Chicago Yacht Club.
Durant has a formidable lead in the series over second place Storrs who is the only one that mathematically has a shot of upsetting Durant’s chances.
Currently ranked number six in the nation Storrs is the only East Coast entry and at 68 years old says he is here to do his best in a regatta he enjoys.
'The Butler Cup is perhaps my favorite match racing event,' said Storrs, 'with great people, a great club and great management… and it’s a lot warmer than Connecticut is this time of year.
'Durant will be hard to catch but we look forward to doing well in the third and final event of the California Dreamin’ Series.
'We’ve got a great team with Chicago’s Steph Roble who made it to the final four to almost qualify for the 2012 Olympic women’s match racing team. Steve Flam who has done a lot of match racing at the top of the sport, Paul Turang, John Costanza and Bobbie Sterbins who all bring a lot of critical big boat experience to the Catalina 37.'
Chicago’s Peter Holz and his team started their first full season as a team this year at the San Diego event having sailed at Chicago Yacht Club and the Chicago Match Race Center.
'I have been match racing for about five years now, and started skippering last summer. Myself, along with Volvo Ocean Race Team Sanya member Andres Soriano, founded Windy City Racing which focuses on surrounding itself with youth sailors from around the U.S.
'After a tough first day [in San Diego] we ended up fifth overall, which was not the desired result but a good one. We are looking to build up our team, training at Chicago Match Race Center where I will be interning and sailing as often as possible.
'We are a team mostly comprised of college students and young sailors with a season goal of breaking into the top 75 in the world. We are looking forward to sailing the 37s and believe they will bring us new challenges that will strengthen our team chemistry.'
Currently sitting in third place in the series points is San Francisco Bay Area sailor Bruce Stone who has been competing in Southern California match race regattas since the 2009 Ficker Cup.
Having had numerous first and second place finishes racing J/105s and J/22s Stone is getting quite good at match racing the Catalina 37s.
'Our best finish in the Cat 37s has been third in last October’s Butler Cup,' Stone said. Our goal is to win this event and send everyone else packing!'
Races will be held just off of the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier and start at approximately 12 noon both Saturday and Sunday, weather conditions permitting. Spectators can watch the racing action from the pier with self-pay parking available in the pier’s parking lot.
The event is named for Frank Butler, founder of Catalina Yachts, who in 1990 designed, built and donated the 11 Catalina 37s used for all of the match races held at LBYC. These same boats are also used for fleet race events and are available for team building and individual charters through the Long Beach Sailing Foundation.
Long Beach Yacht Club website