Fifty boats set sail for Catalina Island Saturday and Sunday, June 9th and 10th, as part of the final two installments of the Berger/Stein Series, hosted by the Del Rey Yacht Club (DRYC) in Marina del Rey. Race four sent the boats over to the island and race five sent them back.
Winds were on the nose for the sailors who made the crossing and it was hard upwind work for crews that might have been hoping for a relaxing beam reach with just enough tacking to get an even tan.
“It was a hard beat over to the West End, then fluky winds down the back side of Catalina ending just inside the entrance to Cat Harbor — this was a very long and hard race,” said Donna Wilson, of Chardonnay, which took first overall in the B class. “The race back was a spinnaker run from the West End all the way to Marina del Rey, with a few light spots in Santa Monica Bay.”
While 50 boats is a good turnout for a local race, especially one that involves a two-day commitment, some wish that there were more consistency of participation within the classes throughout the series, particularly in the Berger (race division).
Certain sailors have privately griped that the overall placement doesn’t mean what it could if racers were committed to the event as a whole. Since the series is run over the course of six months, many boats that race in the first contest, understandably, due to personal scheduling, family etc., aren’t present in the last race.
In other series that run over the course of two or three days, teams get up for winning the event because they’ve committed themselves to a weekend full of races where every start counts and wins equal momentum. These types of races have more of a “playoff” feel, and some think the Berger/Stein could be the most exciting series of them all if it were approached more as a five-part event that culminates with the grand finale of a Catalina crossing. as opposed to four separate entities.
“Most series are held over two days, so the boats are committed in a short time frame,” said Wilson, who raced in all five races.Ý”A series over six months makes it very hard to plan for crew and is more susceptible to conflicts in schedules.
“Also, for the small boats, the Catalina layover race is very difficult because the boats don’t have room to sleep the crew comfortably. An example is the sport boat fleet — the J-80s have very little room below for anything except sails.
“It might be a much better ‘series’ if the Catalina layover was one race, like in the past, and then the participants could use that as their throw-out.”
Last year there were individual classes where a taste of that sentiment was felt. In the sport boat class, a Martin 243, a Viper and a Cheetah 30 were all similarly rated and became vested in winning the entire series. Some boats performed better on certain courses and knew they had to “make hay while the sun was shining” because another race in the series might not involve conditions that were as suitable. The skipper of the Martin knew he might not fare as well on the long Catalina races and worked hard to be competitive before that.
But what the Berger might lack in this area, it certainly makes up for in unique courses and well-run events by DRYC. The five random leg races are always well received by participating competitors and the first of the year is the unofficial start of the yachting season.
This past January, the first installment once again boasted record numbers at the start line with racers coming from all over Southern California.
The Berger class AA had no overall winner because none of the boats competed in three or more races. Class A1 and Sport Class had a major dropout also, with only Ghost II, and Avet, respectively,Ýcompleting five races — and the last two by themselves.
Class A2, B, and C were the most competitive and Fast Lane won the A2 class with eight points, Chardonnay won B class with four points (best score), and Rubicon III won class C with eight points.
The Berger Overall of all the PHRF (Pacific Handicap Racing Fleet) classes went to Chardonnay for the fourth time since 2001 (2001, 2004, 2005, 2007).
The Stein Spinnaker classÝover 30 feet went to Celerity with 11 points, Non-Spinnaker over 30 feet went to Bellezza with five points. Non-Spinnaker under 30 feet went to Windsong.
The ORCA (Ocean Racing Catamaran Association) class winner was Delta Vee with ten points.