by Rich Roberts
Long Beach Race Week - The concept that sailboat racing could be fun even in large fleets of keelboats wasn't original 3 1/2 decades ago, but no event that evolved from that notion lives on more vigorously than the one that has ushered summer into Southern California for 35 years.
Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week 2012
Under its prestigious title sponsor since 2005, Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week returns June 28-30 with three days of racing inside and outside the port's Federal breakwater. Each day's competition will be followed by onshore parties hosted by the organizing Long Beach and Alamitos Bay yacht clubs and minimally impeded by nighttime protest hearings long ago curtailed by friendlier in-and-out arbitration.
The West Coast's largest keelboat regatta has buoy racing for one-design and PHRF fleets on three racing areas: Alpha, Bravo and Charlie, each with its own race committee. Alpha and Bravo will be ocean courses; Charlie will be inside the breakwater between Islands Chaffee, Freeman and White.
All will be racing for a truckload of trophies for, among other goals, the Farr 40 West Coast championship, the Open 5.70 North American championship, the Catalina 37 and Olson 30 National championships, the Viper 640 Pan-American championship qualifier and points toward the J/80, J/105, J/109 and J/120 Southern California High Point Series.
All 10 of the Catalina 37s chartered from the Long Beach Sailing Foundation already have been taken by teams from as far away as Tacoma, Wash. and Scottsdale, Ariz.
The Farr 40s have their eyes on their World champs scheduled for San Francisco next year, with the locals working to raise their games. Several first competed as rivals in the venerable Schock 35s until stepping up to Farr 40s late in the last decade.
Ray Godwin, a local veteran of the fleet and LBYC member, placed third with his boat Temptress last year and was the only boat to beat Jeff Janov's Dark Star all weekend. Godwin said the competition is 'pretty congenial ... not too many protests. Most of us sailed together in Shocks---but, boy, is it competitive.'
Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week
The international Farr 40 class has an owner-driver rule---only the owner may drive---and limits the number of paid pros on board to three, except on the West Coast where only two are allowed.
'I personally don't pay anybody on board,' Godwin said.
Generally, the Farr 40s don't race offshore, with some exceptions.
'The top-level guys, all they want to do is the buoy racing,' Godwin said. 'We're one of the few that do the distance stuff. We always do [Newport to] Ensenada and some of the others.'
In fact, Gordon Leon of Rancho Palos Verdes and Zoltan Katinszky of San Pedro have entered their boats, Foil and White Knight, respectively, in this summer's Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii.
'They might be the first two to do it,' Godwin said.
Others are focused on prizes closer to shore, like the Ullman Sails LBRW Yacht Club Challenge Trophy. Teams must be comprised of three boats in different classes which can be from either a single club or from geographically recognized regions, such as the Pacific Northwest, Gulf Coast, British Columbia or Texas. Or on post-race parties all three evenings, with free shuttle boat service across Alamitos Bay between the two clubs. Then, as mentioned, speedy arbitration as an option to protest hearings that ruin the parties. Best of all, the racing promises few, if any, general recalls. Over-anxious starters are recalled by radio; proper starters may continue to race.
Free mooring assignments are available for out-of-town boats. Onshore accommodations, including event sponsor Ayres Hotel in adjacent Seal Beach, may be booked with special Race Week rates.
Otherwise, all a sailor has to do is (a) enter online and (b) sail a boat. The early discount deadline is June 10. Final entry deadline is June 25.
Long Beach Race Week