“Survive the Night” was the tag line for the 39th Annual Marina del Rey to San Diego Race and since the wind so typically shuts off for the evening during this contest, the tag is most apt.

But this year, the racers were to enjoy uncommonly steady wind conditions that kept all the boats moving along at a steady pace for most of the race, which started Saturday, July 1st.

According to Race Chair Orlando Duran it was the quickest race in over ten years, with wind speeds climbing over the 20-knot mark for some of the competitors.

The first boat in was at 3:52 a.m. Sunday, July 2nd, and the last to finish was Gary Green’s Green Dragon at 5:39 p.m.

“It was a very fast race,” said first place finisher Carl Radusch, Skipper of Sparta a 1D48.

“It was because the wind was so consistent. Our wind built up to 22-knots at one point — it gradually came down, but by midnight we were only six miles from the turning mark” [that represents the entrance to the final stretch].

Sparta was dominant in this year’s contest.

The 48-foot racer came in first in a number of different categories —first in the dash to the initial mark, first in class, first to finish and first corrected overall in PHRF (Pacific Handicap Racing Fleet).

Although they were marching along at a steady clip throughout the contest, they were still in second place for much of the race behind Chris Slagerman’s 26-foot speed machine catamaran, Phat Cat, that was reaching speeds of 18 knots, but towards the end of the race the wind died and Sparta moved past them.

Slagerman took first in his class, but couldn’t eek out an overall victory.

“We were way in front of them until ten miles before the finish,” said Slagerman. “Then the wind just shut down and they just rolled us.”

Radusch was successful for most of the contest in avoiding the windless holes that can cripple a racer’s chances, until the early morning when they neared the finish line.

He and his crew were a short distance from the finish when the wind vanished and they were reduced to a state of near motionlessness.

“It took us about four hours to do six miles,” said Radusch laughing. “But it was a great trip. Everybody refused to go to bed.

“We had a wonderful watch schedule planned, but when it came time to go on watch they just said, ‘We’re not going.’ We were so close to Point Loma at that time, they wanted to see the finish.”

At 70, Radusch is having the time of his life and enjoying great success campaigning Sparta all over Southern California with his dedicated crew.

He has been winning or placing in most of the races around the area, including the prestigious Times/Whitney/Bogart Series, where they took first place.

But the skipper will soon be retiring from his teaching position and will likely not be able to afford the expense of operating a high-end racing boat on a retired teacher’s salary, he says.

“I built myself up over a lifetime — I think I’ve had ten or 11 racing boats — and this is where I’ve envisioned myself,” said Radusch of owning Sparta. “But I’ve been sailing for 45 years and I think it’s time to give it up. I can’t really retire and have a full-out racing boat.”

However, for the time being, Sparta will continue racing the local circuit against the other top racers on the sailing scene — some of whom were competing in this race.

Curt Johnson, aboard his J-80, Avet, took first in his class (PHRF C) continuing his recent winning trend.

Johnson just had a top finish at the Cal Race Week and a second at the Long Beach Race Week, both of which are extremely competitive events.

Dan Rossen sailed Problem Child to victory in the PHRF B division and the double-handed class.

Rod Percival was once again on top in the Cruising Spinnaker division sailing Rubicon III and Faire Warning was first in the Cruising Non-Spinnaker fleet.

“It was a great race with a lot of wind,” said race chair Duran. “Pussar’s Rum was a wonderful sponsor for us.

“They donated all of the mixers for the Pussar’s Pain Killer Party, the night before, which was a great success. They also donated the skipper caps and the class trophies.”