Turkey Day Regatta - Birds on the line

Photo by Rich Roberts / photo boat captain Chuck Benedict - Turkey Day Regatta 2011
Vann Wilson, Jay Golison, Keith Ives, Chris Raab and Henry Sprague, among them over the years, have won enough glittering hardware to sink the Queen Mary, that resides at the far end of the outer Long Beach Harbor that is their sailing home.

Trophies aren't the target this weekend in Alamitos Bay Yacht Club's annual Turkey Day Regatta - everyone sails for the birds.

'We've won our share of turkeys,' said Golison, a member of a successful local racing family who won two of the four Laser class races Saturday to occupy third place among 35 boats.

Wilson is first with a steady string of 4-1-2-5 for a five-point lead over another veteran, Charlie Buckingham of Newport Harbor YC, but that contest could tighten in the last three races Sunday when the racers discard their worst finishes. Golison will toss his 14th in Race 3 over his shoulder like a wishbone. Golison and Buckingham had no double-digit finishes on a sunny but bone-chilling (for Southern California) 60-degree day.

Two other familiar skippers---Keith Ives and Chris Raab---share first place in Cal 20s with identical scorecards of a first, second, third and fourth. Ives and crew Chuck Stevens won the Cal 20 Class Championships on the same waters in August.

Henry Sprague leads the Finn class with no wins but four deuces.

Photo by Rich Roberts / photo boat captain Chuck Benedict -

There are 247 boats and 317 sailors from Seattle to San Diego in the 18 classes. All the winners will receive a bonus bird to take home; others will get pies or game hens.

Sailing for turkeys instead of trophies has been an ABYC holiday institution since 1948. The Naples Sabots and Lido 14s are racing inside on Alamitos Bay; the Lasers and everybody else are competing on two courses outside. Racing will start at noon Sunday.

Vann and Golison couldn't say how many Turkey Day Regattas they had sailed, except that Wilson, 55, hasn't missed many since he moved to Long Beach 25 years ago, and Golison, 56, only knows that 'I started in Sabots when I was old enough.'

What they do know from years of sailing Lasers is that it's good to be big when it's windy but frustrating in light wind---and vice versa. Saturday started at 8 knots until whitecaps arrived in 12 knots by mid-afternoon.

Even then it was puffy and shifty from the southwest.

'If it stayed light, my money would be on Jay,' Vann, the slightly heavier of the pair, said later.

Instead, Golison said, 'I was out of gas for that [third] race, but in the last one I went the other way [from most of the fleet], and it was good. I looked under the boom and it was OK.'

So, from a 14th to a first, he was back in the hunt. Sunday it's all about the birds.

67th Turkey Day Regatta 2014 - Alamitos Bay Yacht Club - Long Beach, Calif.
Rich Roberts

Class leaders
(after 1 of 2 2 days)

Alpha course

CAL 20 (7)---Tie between Keith Ives/Chuck Stevens, Alamitos Bay YC, and Chris Raab/Jamie DeWolfe, ABYC, 1-4-2-3, 10.

FORMULA 18 (8)---Craig Yandow/Terence Seaman, ABYC, 3-1-4-3, 11.

INTERNATIONAL 14 (4)---Jerome White/Manuel Ingele, St. Francis YC, 5-DNC-2-1, 8.

VIPER 640 (8)---Tim Carter/Rachel Ellis, ABYC, 4-1-1-1., 7.

INTERNATIONAL MOTH (7)---Eric Aakhus, Balboa YC, 1-1-2-1, 5.

MERCURY (12)---Chris Messano/Doug Baird, Cabrillo Beach YC, 2-1-1-1, 5.

FINN (7)---Henry Sprague, US Finn Assn., 2-2-2-1, 8.

29ER (16)---Patrick Snow/Storm Brown, San Diego YC, 2-3-1-2, 8./

CORONADO 15 (5)---John Richardson/Mark Brazil, South Coast Corinthian YC, 6-1-1-2, 10.

Bravo course

LASER FULL (35) –Vann Wilson, ABYC, 4-1-2-5, 12.

LASER RADIAL (44)---Mitchell Kiss, Macatawa Bay YC (Mich.), 1-1-1-1, 4.

Bay course

NAPLES SABOT A (18)---Jack Ryan, San Diego YC, 4-3-1-2, 10.

SABOT B (14)---Rebecca McElvain, San Diego YC, 1-4-1-7, 13.

SABOT C-1 (12)---Willem Perry, Mission Bay YC, 2-1-1, 4.

SABOT C-2 (10)---Jack Plavan, San Diego YC, 1-1-1, 3.

SABOT C-3 (18)---Taisei Hatter, San Diego YC, 4-1-4, 9.

LIDO 14-A (14))---Mark Ryan/crew unknown, ABYC, 6-1-1-2, 10.

LIDO 14-B (8)---Tracy Conn/Bill Moore, ABYC, 1-4-1-1, 7.

Full Results here