Local Marina del Rey racers made a strong showing in the prestigious Long Beach Race Week held last week under strong, shifty winds in the waters outside Long Beach Harbor.
The race is arguably the most popular and esteemed event in Southern California yacht racing and if participation numbers make the case, then it is indeed, with 164 boats racing on three separate courses in both handicapped and one design fleets.
The first day of the series set the tone for the regatta with wind speeds blowing in the 20-knot range — gusting to 25 — challenging racers to sail fast but remain safe.
Boats were barreling around the marks at top speed barely staying upright as booms slammed and boats broached all around the three courses.
Two catamarans capsized, a J-80 ended up on the beach and a collision between a Martin 242 from the Marina del Rey fleet and a Catalina 38 caused the Martin to dismast. Martin 242 Fleet Captain Mike George was at the helm during the collision and still finished second in his class by only one point in the overall standings.
“Mike was actually racing Hull #303,” said George’s wife Denise. “He was on starboard approaching the weather mark when the big boat hit him in 22-knots of breeze.
“There was a little fiberglass damage but the boat hit directly at the shrouds. We really are lucky no one was hurt and are truly thankful we don’t race PHRF (Pacific Handicap Racing Fleet) that often.”
Throughout the week, the unpredictable wind shifted and changed speeds constantly making this event one of the more unusual and challenging Long Beach races in recent memory. Many of the participating Marina del Rey sailors at the race handled the unruly conditions skillfully and reaped the rewards in the final standing.
In the highly competitive PHRF B class the top three finishers, Arana, Black Knight and White Knight, (first, second and third respectively) all hailed from the Marina del Rey area.
Arana, skippered by John Carroll, took four firsts and two thirds to put him on top of the overall leader board.
“It was one of the shiftiest Long Beaches I can remember,” said Carroll of the conditions through the series. “On Sunday, it was shifting with pressure. It was already at 12 to 15 knots and we had a 70-degree shift at double the pressure.”
But Carroll was happy with these types of conditions, for his 27,000-pound custom racer prefers heavy air to the light winds that permeate most Marina del Rey races.
“If we can get that type of blow — we’re going to be tough to beat,” Carroll said.
Behind Arana in those same standings was Phil Friedman’s Farr 40, Black Knight, out of Del Rey Yacht Club. These two boats are often battling for the top spot and have been for nearly 20 years.
“He’s a very good sailor,” said Carroll of Friedman. “And he’s got a very good program and is always consistently at the top.”
Other Marina del Rey sailors ranked high in other classes as well. Mike Georgia finished second in the PHRF 4 grouping.
California Yacht Club’s Jeff Janov once again sailed Ripple effectively in the Schock 35 class, finishing second behind Long Beach Yacht Club’s Ray Goodwin of Whiplash, who said of the race:
“We always seem to be as fast as Ripple, who won last year, but he always wins. So we decided to get more serious this year and practice.”
Curt Johnson, also from California Yacht Club, had a strong showing in the J-80 class with a second place on the heels of a first at the recently held Cal Race Week.