While griping about ailing participation in the racing world can be heard thoughout the sailing blog universe, chat rooms and endless yacht club conversations, the Del Rey Yacht Club continues to rack up more competitors year after year with the first race of the season, the Berger/Stein Series.

Saturday, January 6th, 133 boats crowded the start line area, making for an all-time record number of entrants in the event.

Some of the most reputable racing yachts in Southern California were in attendance including Doug Baker’s 80-foot maxi Magnitude 80, which will be sailing in the upcoming Marina del Rey to Puerto Vallarta Race and is a regular Transpac racer, and Medicine Man, which is also another prominent long distance yacht from the Southern California area.

From the local ranks, but no less distinguished, were Pendragon and the gracefully aging 83-foot Sorcery, who finished first place in her class.

“It was the biggest year ever,” said delighted race supervisor and competitor Roberto Cordero. “There was a lot of competition in all the classes.”

On the eve of the contest, many of the competitors were at the Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Club awards dinner at Del Rey Yacht Club (DRYC) and the casual conversation regarding the race amongst many of the sailors had to do with whether the high winds of the past week were going to blow through the Marina del Rey to Malibu course.

Some felt that 20 knots or more were likely and there was some excitement brewing, but the day would be just the opposite of these speculations — flat calm and little breeze.

“The wind was opposite of the forecast,” said a surprised Cordero. “Completely opposite. We were expecting north winds and thought maybe it would die down and then pick up from the west, but it stayed from the south and went even further south. It was weird.”

It was a strange day for weather patterns around the area as they were mostly contrasting.

Out at Catalina Island ridge, it was blowing 16-knots. Santa Barbara Island was clocking 31. In some parts of Long Beach, there were reports of 12-knots.

But for much of the day in the Santa Monica Bay, there was barely enough wind to move the fleet forward.

The AA Class had 11 purebred racers at the line loaded with horsepower with no wind to drive them. Their massive sails could only move them at a snail’s pace and the contest would be one of patience and light air tactics instead of the adrenaline filled, rail-in-the-water thrill ride that some expected.

Magnitude 80 was leagues in front of the pack and finished more than a half an hour in front of everyone, but they owed Sorcery many minutes and finished second on corrected time.

In the B class, it was a tight battle of the Farr designs. The top five finishers were all Farr boats and the top three finished within about three minutes of each other on corrected time.

DRYC’s own Phil Friedman took first place in his Farr 39, Black Night adding to a long list of Berger wins.

In other classes: Bill Worthington’s Pequot won in the A2 class; Larry Travis’ Athena in the Sport class; and Roy & Donna Wilson’s Chardonnay in the B class.

Mike George was reportedly sailing Jim Durden’s Zip and took first in the C class and David Collins took first in the somewhat depleted ORCA division sailing Hiper.

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