Eighty-one boats were strung out over ten miles of Santa Monica Bay like a string of pearls last weekend.
It was a beautiful sight to see the narrow line of racing sailboats heading towards Topanga from Marina del Rey, all participating in the Del Rey Yacht Club Race to Topanga and Back Saturday, March 5th.
This was the second race in the Berger and Stein Series, a premiere distance race series in Santa Monica Bay.
As with the first race in January, this race was handicapped by a bad forecast from the weatherman, at least for the morning.
But just as before, the weather cooperated.
The chop was very light. The sky was blue except for a single big dark cloud hanging close to Santa Monica beach.
Aside from very brief light sprinkles of rain over the race course, the racers circled the edge of the cloud in perfect conditions.
The race started out with light air of around eight knots at “S” mark. By the time boats sailed between the Santa Monica Bell Buoy and a mark in Topanga, the breeze picked up to ten knots.
This was right at the edge of the wind line from the cloud.
From Topanga to Marina del Rey, the boats starting later benefited from the fresh breeze that picked up to 15 knots and this followed after the isolated cloud had moved on.
The cloud added a change to the typical strategy for winning this race.
The usually expected wind shifts due to the landscape were distorted by the effect of the weather.
The lift to weather on the way to Topanga was not to be found.
According to PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing Fleet) A1 winner Lee Lewis, “The big cloud gave an advantage to the boats that went out” — away from the beach.
Due to the “reaching” angles of the 17-mile course of the race, boats had a narrow range of options to get to the next mark and this caused the string-of-pearls effect as the stretched narrow line of fast and slower boats outlined the lanes of the course.
One could also see the differences in wind speed as you could observe the increased heel of the boats further ahead in the race course, compared to the straight masts of the boats behind.
The race started at 11 a.m. for the first class and most of the boats finished near 3 p.m.
The racers then proceeded to Del Rey Yacht Club for good food, drinks, and camaraderie till the evening.
Of the 81 participating in the race, 53 were in the PHRF and ORCA (Ocean Racing Catamaran Association) class, and 28 were racing in the cruising class.
Taking honors in PHRF were:
Class AA: Sorcery, Mull83 — Jacob Wood;
Class A1: Gimme Shelter, Martin 243 — Lewis, Downing and Meepos;
Class A2 Trust Me, Soverel 33 — Duncan Cameron;
In Class B: Chardonnay, Santana 30/30 — Roy and Donna Wilson; and
Class C: Ginger Lee, Santa Cruz 27 — Rosenkranz.
In the Cruiser Class:
Celebrity, Catalina 42 — Moorhead and Bilson, won the spinnaker division;
Farr Gone, Beneteau 427s — Rick Ruskin, won the non-spinnaker division in the 30-foot-and-over class; and
Maine Squeeze, Catalina 27 — Vic Smith, won in the under-30-foot class.
Complete race results are available on the web at www.delreyyachtclub.org
NEXT BERGER-STEIN — The next race — to Point Dume and back — will be held Saturday, May 14th.
The final race of the series is the Catalina and Back, a two-race weekend, Saturday and Sunday, June 11th and 12th.
Information about this race series and to receive Notice of Races, Del Rey Yacht Club, (310) 823-4664 or