The Jessica Uniack Beach to Bay Race 2011 hosted by the Alamitos Bay Fleet of Long Beach, has come to a close at Long Beach Yacht Club. The event which is now part of the Long Beach Sea Festival, featured 156 sailors ranging from age six to fifteen sailing 146 boats in various classes.
It's fun to sail and, even though the rest of the message isn't popular, it's even more fun to win.
'Yes, definitely,' Sofia Maranto conceded through a non-stop grin after receiving the top prize in the 24th Jessica Uniack Memorial Beach to Bay Race Thursday.
The slight 13-year-old blonde from the Dana Point Yacht Club led 76 boy and girl rivals in the Naples Sabot C3 class over a five-mile course from Long Beach's downtown Shoreline Marina to the finish line off the Long Beach Yacht Club inside Alamitos Bay.
The race was launched in 1988 and in 1995 was renamed in honor of Jessica Uniack, a tireless volunteer and supporter of junior sailing. When she died her husband Bill and her sons Alex and Billy carried on her work. Alex, holding Jessica's youngest grandson, assisted in the awards ceremony.
His mother's mission in sailing, Uniack said, was 'to get the parents involved. It takes the parents to get the kids here. It's only as good as the parents make it.'
The sailing conditions were less than ideal at the start, but the organizers planned it that way to finish the race before the afternoon sea breeze arrived, since few of the youngsters had experience in handling their tiny Naples Sabots, Lasers, Laser Radials and two-person CFJ dinghies on the outer harbor. The race started in a mild reaching wind of three to four knots, then increased to six to seven knots as the sun broke through the morning overcast and the wind swung aft from the southwest.
Maranto, whose 11-year-old sister Lily also finished well in 11th place, used her knowledge of the course from two past races to her benefit. Their class led off the series of class starts.
'I started behind everybody else,' Maranto said. 'I went out a little farther and they went down [along] the beach.'
But when her rivals had to come out halfway to the Alamitos Bay jetty to pass the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Maranto was in charge.
Another feminine contestant---Mila Bakker, 15, of Alamitos Bay YC---was the first to finish overall, sailing a Laser Radial.
Rob Rice of ABYC won the Laser full-rig class for the third consecutive year, following two wins in Sabots---and he's still only 15. Class winners
Sabot A (6 boats)---R.J. Ivory, Alamitos Bay YC.
Sabot B (4)---Noah LaBarba, ABYC.
Sabot C1 (9)---Scott Fairbanks, ABYC.
Sabot C2 (13)---Ryan Ayale, ABYC.
Sabot C3 (77)---Sofia Maranto, Dana Point YC.
Laser (8)---Robert Rice, ABYC.
Laser Radial (6)---Mila Bakker, ABYC.
Optimist (17)---Chance Weston, Cabrillo Beach YC.
CFJ (6)---Cole Dean/Charlie Gustafson, Long Beach YC Long Beach Yacht Club website