The Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce would have been proud. It was the kind of weekend that vacation brochures write about and why Southern California — especially Marina del Rey — is experiencing a booming housing market. Where else would you want to live? Or vacation?

If you were lucky enough to know someone with a boat or if you have one of your own, this was the weekend to go sailing (or motoring, if you must).

On Saturday, June 12th, shorts and T-shirts were the uniform of the day as cruising and racing boats headed out the Marina main channel. Not everyone was racing. There were quite a number of women’s teams out practicing for the upcoming Women On Water! (WOW!) Regatta coming Saturday and Sunday, July 10th and 11th.

Out in the bay, California Yacht Club was putting on its annual King of Spain Regatta for the International Star class.

Del Rey Yacht Club and Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club were starting one of the two concluding races of the William Berger and Mac Jones Performance Handicap racing Fleet and the Ocean Racing Catamaran Associations (PHRF/ORCA) and the Bill Stein Cruiser races.

At their start, the Berger/Jones/Stein group — ten classes in all — encountered the beginnings of whitecaps signifying nine or so knots of breeze for their 36-nautical mile race to Catalina Island. Actually, the cruisers finished at the Northwest end, lopping six miles off their course.

That was so the heavier and slower cruising boats could start their engines at the turn around on the back (Hawaii) side of the island and thus make it to the barbecue at Cat Harbor before sunset.

I remember many occasions when the “we’re-going-to-finish” diehards eked out 1 a.m. finishes in next-to-nothing night breezes by the time they made it around to Cat Harbor. These were usually boats vying for a class trophy and they wouldn’t quit unless the other competitors did. Do the names Superstar and Ghost I ring any bells?

On Sunday, June 13th, starting at the Northwest end of the Island at Eagle Rock, all the classes raced back to the Marina del Rey Harbor entrance. At my deadline, only the Stein Cruiser results were published.

Spies reported the first boat spotted was the Lee Lewis/JoAnn Meepos/Mike Downing Gimme Shelter, a Martin 243, of Del Rey Yacht Club. It’s quite a feat for a PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing Fleet) A1 class boat rating 54 to beat the PHRF AA boats with ratings of minus 54. To say nothing of the trimarans.

Principle race officer (PRO) Sterling Tallman reported all boats had checked in on both days by 7:30 p.m.

“On the race over, Saturday, the white caps at the start died and then picked up again near the island,” he said. He was very pleased with the turnout. “We had 63 boats. Up from 48 last year and 35 the year before.”

There were an extra hundred people. A lot of entrants didn’t sign up until the day before, which is unusual for an overnight race. Since the race organizers had sent provisions over earlier for the barbecue at the club’s Cat Harbor facility, they scurried to go shopping again.

He also heard words dear to the heart of a race officer: “This was a real good race. Everyone is happy.” “Best race in years.”

The Howards, who raced their Carmagnole, a Beneteau 40.7, confirmed the high level of excitement among the racers after Saturday’s race. The Catalina and Return races are unique, with the accomplishment of racing across the channel, the holiday atmosphere of spending the night in the harbor and then racing back.

We can report the class standings for the Overall Stein Series:

Cruiser Spinnaker, 11 entries for the entire five race series

1. Freedom Too, Allan Freedman, SMWYC 6-1-1-3-3 (14 points)

2. Duchess, Ron Jacobs, DRYC 3-4-6-1-2 (16)

3. Mahal, Van Heel Family, PYC 4-DNC (did not compete)/12-4-2-1 (23)

Cruiser 30 Feet and Over, 21 entries:

1. Vianne, Sandy Sinclair, DRYC 1-11-7-5-4 (28.1 points)

2. Ta Dah, Jeff Allen, DRYC, 2-6-11-7-2 (28.2)

3. Aumakua, Michael McLean, DRYC 4-DNC/22-1-4-1 (32)

4. Bella, Gary Speck, SCCYC 7-8-6-6-DNF (Did not finish)/8 (35)

5. Camelot IV, Jim Doherty, SCCYC 3-7-DNC/22-2-3 (37)

Cruiser Under 30 Feet, 11 entries:

1. Felicidad, Ben Kaplan, PSSA 3-1-3-2-4 (13)

2. Sunshine, Lenny Gordon, PSSA 1-2-4- DNS/5-3 (15)

3. Shhpritzz, Gerald Sobel, WSA 2- DNC/12-DNC/12-DNS/5-1 (32)

KING OF SPAIN — Olympic Trials 4th place Star Class overall winner Eric Doyle swooped in from Newport Harbor Yacht Club to outdistance rivals with a score of 1-1-2-3-1 in CYC’s King of Spain Regatta for the International Star. Doyle also won the event in 1998.

The 2003 winner, Eric Lidecis, from Bahia Corinthian YC, was second with 2-2-4-4-3 for 15 points to Doyle’s eight points.

Jim Buckingham, also from NHYC was third with 5-6-1-2-2 for 16 points tying with Doug Smith from St. Francis YC 3-4-3-1-5 for 16.1. Smith had bested the 11-boat Star fleet in Cal Race Week held the week before. Lidecis had had an uncharacteristic sixth with a DNS (did not start) in that one.

After Saturday’s whitecaps, Sunday was characterized by southerly wind in the seven-to-ten-knot range and generally flat water.

Since the 22.5-foot Star is a two-person boat, usually both the driver and crew are listed, as the crew is essential in any win. For some reason only the helmsman was listed in the official results list this year.

Byron Nelson, in seventh place with 37 points, was the highest-placing local racer. CYC commodore Craig Leeds advised us that Nelson raced with his son David.

Another CYC father-son combo was out there, this time in separate boats. Son Craig Steele came in ahead of dad Doug, 52 points to 57.1. The extra 0.1 was because dad lost the tie with Rick Peters, who didn’t sail Sunday but had posted three seventh places Saturday.

California Yacht Club again called on port captain Bill Moore to chair the regatta and to perform principle race officer duties.

The history of this event started with CYC member Owen Churchill, a 1932 Olympic Gold Medalist who had won the King of Spain six times, the last in 1937. The perpetual trophy nn a replica of a Spanish galleon — really was dedicated by a king — King Alphonse of Spain in 1928. The trophy was meant for winners of Olympic class boats. In the late ’70s, it was redeeded for the International Star Class.

CATALINA CONSERVANCY REGATTA — Racing against seven Southern California yacht clubs, the Del Rey Yacht Club team led by Lee Lewis won the Catalina Conservancy Regatta. The Long Beach Yacht Club regatta was held in Catalina 37s Sunday, June 6th, and is part of a yearlong series of yacht club challenges.

The DRYC team, local talent plus Congressional Cup and Transpac veterans, had never sailed together as a team.

In the second race, “right after our first gybe from the first top mark of the race we lost our Genoa sheet in the water,” said three-time Congressional Cup skipper Steve Steiner. “Lee’s tone elevated a few decibels due to the fact that we were in first place and had no way to go back to weather.”

“These are not your normal racing boats where you have an extra sheet down below, these are charter vessels and come with a checkout sheet and that’s it. Bill (Worthington) came up with the idea of using the tail of the main halyard for our spare jib sheet, ” said Steiner in an e-mail.

The rest of the team: Mike Downing, Doug Weitz, Jonathan Blinderman, JoAnn Meepos, and Steve Comstock.

Claudia Wainer, sailing for Blue Water Cruising Club, winner of many Cat 37 and Schock 35 events and a past DRYC racer, was only one point behind for second. Balboa Yacht club was third with 13 points.

CYC won last year but did not compete this year.

HAVE YOU NOTICED AN UNUSUAL BOAT? — There is an exceptionally colorful 36-foot white, green and red wooden ketch called Asgard III visible on Admiralty Way between the library and Bali Way in the parking lot. She is flying flags from Canada, Ireland, Novia Scotia and the United States.

The story goes that she is taking off cross-country (on a trailer) with the intention of embarking off Cape Breton, Canada, and sailing to Ireland accompanied by a ten-man rowing team.

The leader of this expedition is an engaging Irishman with a bent for theater by the name of Brian ó h-Eachtuigheirn — pronounced Breen O-hock-tear-an.

He has in fact founded Irish and/or Celtic art centers in New York, Hollywood, Ireland, Nova Scotia and Marina del Rey. He is also a licensed lawyer.

He bills this as an artistic and theatrical adventure to publicize and promote his goal of reviving the Gaelic language in Ireland.

CYC commodore Craig Leeds even hosted a fun reception for Brian Thursday, June 10th, to help promote this endeavor. The fact that Leeds is a rower may have contributed to his enthusiasm. Leeds likened Brian and his friends “to a fun improvisational group.”

To see photos and read Brian’s paean to the Gaelic language and more background about what seems such an improbable undertaking, see his gaelicadventure.org Web site.

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