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Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week - Day 1

by Betsy Crowfoot 22 Jun 06:25 BST 21-23 June 2019
Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week day 1 © Tom Walker

Right on cue on Solstice Day, the grey skies cleared, the sun came out, and the guns fired, announcing the start of Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week. Summer has arrived in Southern California!

On Day One of Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week, competitors were treated to delightful conditions for the first of three days of racing. Seasonal 'June gloom' gave way to sunny skies and southwesterly breezes of six to ten knots, with nearly 1,000 sailors competing on windward-leeward and random-leg courses on San Pedro Bay.

Hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club and Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, LBRW is a favorite tradition of sailors for 40 years, with competitors hailing from five states plus Australia, Germany, Mexico and Canada. The event will continue through Sunday June 23.

One of many trophies and titles up for grabs this weekend is the Catalina 37 National Championship. The Catalina 37s are an elite fleet: designed for the prestigious Congressional Cup regatta, this custom keelboat exists only here in Long Beach. Racers come from far and wide to charter these one-design race boats, which are owned and maintained to identical standards by the Long Beach Sailing Foundation. This year's lineup at LBRW includes teams from San Diego to Tacoma and several ports in between, plus neighboring Arizona.

The battle for last year's National title came down to a three-way tie, as racers entered the final match of the series. That clash, between Team ABYC Juniors, LBYC's DH3 entry, and Southwestern Yacht Club, went to ABYC. But with ABYC unable to mount a defending campaign in 2019 (ABYC skipper Kevin Brown is this year's LBRW co-chair) the door was wide open for new challengers.

Hearing the call was first-timer Kyle Collins and his King Harbor Yacht Club crew. Collins is a 20-year-old, third generation seafarer from nearby San Pedro. A sailor for most of those two decades, he has competed in everything from dinghy racing to Transpac, and last year won the J/70 Youth Championship.

New to the Catalina 37 boat, Collins and the KHYC Youth Foundation team - a multigenerational co-ed effort - none-the-less launched off the start line and led the fleet from pole to pole in Race One. "These boats are so identical, it makes the racing really close," noted Collins. "The racing is really tactical, so you have to be on top of it for the start and into the first shift." They followed their win in Race One with a sixth place finish in Race Two, ending the day in third. First place went to Team D-Ives, with a 3-2 finish. After a superb recovery from an OCS in Race One, DH3 Racing rebounded to second overall, with two days of racing still ahead.

The largest fleet of the event, the Viper 640s, saw Nice Asp advance to the top of the leaderboard. Midlife Crisis edged out Minor Threat by one point in the J/70 class.

The Schock 35 Whiplash ended the day with two bullets; so did Vesper in the TP52 division. Argo and Mexican Divorce are tied for first in PHRF A, as are the Farr 40s Insanity and Blade II. Just three points separate frontrunners in PHRF B: Lugano, Rival and TBD; while Raptor holds the lead in PHRF C.

In the Random Leg Division, A Class boat Elyxir trails Deception by a small margin; DistraXion topped Random Leg B.

While Gator led the eight-boat Random Leg C fleet, Dos Amigos won points for heroic action. Skipper Bob Hubbard said he spotted a small powerboat along the race course sitting low in the water, with the two crew frantically bailing. His crew doused the spinnaker and went to the aid of the distressed boat - standing by until rescue arrived. After redress, Dos Amigos stood in second.

But much can change over the next two days, as racing continues tomorrow and Sunday, with starts at 11:55AM. Following today's post-race festivities at ABYC, is Saturday's Mount Gay Rum Party at LBYC with music, dancing, complimentary hors d'oeuvres and no host bar. Also at LBYC, complimentary coffee and espresso drinks are served each morning at the Buzz Bar, hosted by U.S. Sailing.

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