The Del Rey Yacht Club hosted the final two installments of the five-part Berger/Stein Series Saturday and Sunday, June 10th and 11th, weekend with a race to the backside of Catalina Island and return, with an overnight stay between races.
The fourth and fifth races take on a play-off type role within the context of the series, since the last two races are back-to-back.
Coming into the “Catalina Layover,” as it is known, many of the classes are very much up for grabs and the competition typically becomes very heated and competitive for the two 35-mile one-way crossings.
In the PHRF (Pacific Handicap Racing Fleet) A1 class this was certainly the case, as first-time Berger racer Chris Slagerman was looking to maintain the pressure and take the overall win over Phil Friedman in Black Knight and Jerome Sammarcelli in Chupacabra.
Slagerman sails a fast 20-foot Viper 830 sport boat called Black Magic that rates very evenly with Chupacabra and also John Staff’s Cheetah 30 Wildcat.
In the first race of the final two, Slagerman and crew got a good jump and proceeded to battle Chupacabra head-to-head all the way to the end of the island while Staff took his chances farther outside gambling for a wind shift that would have allowed him to pop his spinnaker early, but the risk didn’t pay.
So it became a rhumb line battle of tactics and execution, with Slagerman eventually coming out on top.
“We figured rhumb line was the ticket,” said Slagerman. “We were counting on the lift the whole way there — that’s the typical scenario and we played it close to the island.
“It’s pretty much a drag race there and back. Jerome and I were maybe ten yards from each other the whole way there. It was unbelievable.”
As Slagerman rounded the end of the island towards the finish line, he was able to get some speed and create some space.
The wind died, which also worked to his favor and he was able to cross the line in front.
He went on to take first in the fifth and final race and throw out his worst finish (as the rules allow) and ended the series with two firsts and two seconds.
“We made a couple of good jibes on the inside and the boat’s real fast in light air so we built a little separation — just enough to take care of our handicap,” said Slagerman. “The crew really pulled it together. We work real solid with one another.”
In the PHRF AA class (big boats), Pendragon 4 came in second behind Sorcery, but came out on top in the overall standings.
In other classes in the Berger:
n Rick Ruskin won in the PHRF A2 division in Farr Gone;
n Avet once again was victorious in PHRF B — this boat is dominant in so many of the races it enters;
n Donna Polk took care of business in the PHRF C class sailing Eggemoggin;
n in the doublehanded class, Hard Habit, sailed by Bruce and Tim Warren, took top honors and
n in the ORCA (Offshore Racing Club of America) class Mike Leneman waxed the fleet with all firsts and one second aboard his always speedy F-31 Delta Vee.
In the Stein cruising classes it was: Mike Inmom winning in the spinnaker class aboard Faire Warning; Albert Algaze on Krazy Kat for the non-spin under 30 and Joe Cowen sailing Windsong in the non-spin over 30s.