Friday, June 27, 2014

Long Beach Race Week Preview

J/120 class starting at Long Beach (Long Beach, CA)- One of the long-standing classic sailing weeks on the California racing calendar has been Long Beach Race Week, taking place this week from June 27th to 29th.  With many one-design classes and a number of offshore classes, the event provides a mix of sailing that is unique in the SoCal region.  While one-designs may be doing the standard windward-leewards, the offshore boats have a choice of “random-leg” courses or the basic buoy-racing like the one-design boats.

The mix of classes and types of racing continues to attract many sailors to the event, with 139 boats participating this year.  Long Beach YC does a fantastic job of rolling out the red carpet (particularly around their famous pool right on the harbor) and host a lot of fun, entertaining events every evening.  In addition, LBYC’s volunteer crew of Race Committee’s and PRO’s do an admirable job of getting races off in just about any weather condition.

For the J/70s, it’s their first West Coast Championship and sixteen teams will by vying for some of the last qualifying slots in the 2014 J/70 Worlds in Newport, RI.  With three boats each from San Francisco Bay and from San Diego and the rest from the Los Angles basin (Santa Barbara YC, Cal YC, Kings Harbor YC, Balboa YC and Newport Harbor YC), the fleet will enjoy some close racing amongst some very experienced J/70 teams.  In fact, there are two year veterans already from the first Key West Race Week participating- David Ullman on USA 32 as well as Bennet Greenwald sailing PERSEVERANCE.  While they will be tough contenders, there’s no question several other J/70 teams have climbed the learning-curve quite quickly in this easy-to-sail one-design speedster.  Amongst those teams are SOGGY DOLLAR (Dave Vieregg), ZUNI BEAR (Rich Bergmann), JENNIFER (Chris Kostanecki), SLOOP JOHN B (Tom Garrett), ZERO TO 60 (Karl Pomeroy), PERFECT WIFE (Chris Andersen), GO-RILLA (Dan Gribble), CAKE (Scott Deardorff) and JAYA (Craig Tallman).

With seven boats, the J/120s are well-represented with teams from all over Southern California.  Virtually all of them have been winners or on the podium in the last year or so, including CAPER (John Laun), J-ALMIGHTY (Mike Hatch), SHENANIGANS (Gary Winton), JIM (John Snook), CC RIDER (Chuck Nichols), POLE DANCER (Tom & Terri Mock) and ADIOS (Peter Bretschger).

The eight boat J/24 class has seen a significant resurgence in participation with several top teams in the mix, past West Coast Champions as well as North American Champions.  Topping the list may be Pat Toole’s 3 BIG DOGS Team from Santa Barbara YC.  Nevertheless, top local team, Susie Taylor on TAKE FIVE from California YC, will surely challenge them.  The long-distance travelers must be Mike Johnson’s PEARL team from Seattle YC.

The J/80s will see returning champion Curt Johnson from Cal YC guiding the might AVET towards a defense of their title.  Look for Steve Wyman’s Dana Point YC team on NUHUNU giving them a run-for-the-money as well as Mark Hunter’s IN-APPROPRIATE.

The J/105s will see the return of two of SoCal’s top teams, including local talents Gary Mozer on CURRENT OBSESSION 2 and Rick Goebel’s SANITY crew from San Diego, the recent San Diego NOOD overall winners.  While last year the SANITY crew seemed to have the upper hand in breezes over 10-12 kts, the tables may have shifted since the San Diego NOOD where SANITY won with over 7 bullets on their scorecard in light winds.

The half-dozen J/109s have past winners Tom Brott on ELECTRA from Seal Beach YC as well as John Schulze from Balboa YC on LINSTAR.

In the PHRF Handicap world, the two biggest fleets in the regatta are PHRF Racing (27 boats) and PHRF Random Leg (26 boats).  In the PHRF Racing fleet, we find two J/111s matched up perfectly on handicap rating (at 42 PHRF each) against two J/124s.  Who comes out on top on that one is anyone’s guess, most likely a “horses-for-courses” result depending on breeze.  The 111s are presented by Bill Webster & Mike Moorhead’s JATO and also Glenn Griley’s STAMPEDE, both from King Harbor YC.  The 124s have Seth Hall’s famous blue MARISOL and Tim Harmon’s CIRRUS representing them.  In addition to this duel, another 35 footer duel is forming between the J/35 RIVAL (Bill Boatner) and the J/105 KESTREL (Bill Moore).  Finally, in the Random Leg class, the J/80 SLOOP DOGG will be sailed by Chris Smith from Arizona YC.  For more Long Beach Race Week sailing information