Return of Long Beach Race Week
Published on June 26th, 2022
After pandemic cancellations in 2020 and 2021, nearly 90 teams competed in the 2022 Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week held June 24-26 in Long Beach, CA. Eight one-design fleets and PHRF A, B and C classes were on the windward-leeward course, while a squad of random leg challengers toured the bay.
For decades USLBRW has been one of the favorite regattas for sailors on the west coast, with highly fought competition, nightly parties, and weather conditions that say, ‘Hello summer!” And this edition was no exception as Mother Nature doled out three days of sunshine, breeze, dolphin sightings, and fun.
USLBRW is hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club (ABYC) and Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC) with a helping hand from California Yacht Club and an armada of volunteers. The collaboration provides for three distinct racecourses, hosting 14 different divisions.
“It’s been good to have everyone back and enjoying the regatta,” said Principal Race Officer Mark Townsend. “The Long Beach breeze really delivered and we had highly competitive racing all three days!”
Racing began June 24 with breezy conditions testing the fleet right out of the gate. Wind that gusted to 21 knots created a formidable chop, even in the inner harbor race circle ‘C.’ That didn’t stop organizers from running two races for the windward-leeward boats, and a lengthy trial for the random leg entrants.
By Day Two, the leaderboard began to solidify as the wind continued to blow. Dominating the J/111 fleet was Skeleton Key, as PHRF-C was controlled by the J/35 Rival. Shadowfax took an early hold on random leg-C while Argo4 reigned in random leg-A. The Carkeek 40 Adjudicator had rivals green with envy, with all top two finishes.
But for many classes, the racing was tight and it would come down to the final matches on the final day.
Bruce Golison’s J/70 Midlife Crisis held off an attack by Nimbus, who was OCS in Race Three. Despite a brilliant rally to a ninth-place finish in that race, Nimbus was unable to best Midlife Crisis’ all top-five finishes, and finished second overall, with Huckleberry third.
Midlife Crisis’ stellar performance earned the team both J/70 gold and the first Boat of the Day honors. Steven Proud’s J70 Swish, hailing from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in Aus., received the Furthest Traveled award.
In the Beneteau 36.7 division, Larry Smith’s PI captured gold and the High Point Series distinction. Although Rode Rage had five straight wins on days two and three, they could not overcome missing the first day, and finished six points behind PI, with Bella Vita close behind.
Three boats racked up perfect scores in USLBRW 2022: J/35 Rival in PHRF-C and the J/111 Skeleton Key, both with a lucky seven wins in seven races; plus Shadowfax, who logged three firsts in the random leg-C division.
In the end, Adjudicator triumphed in PHRF A followed by Flaquita and Pendragon IV. In PHRF B, Jim Bailey’s Destroyer took first and with sons Charlie, Danny, and William at his side, also took home the Golison and Kent Family Trophy for the highest placing boat sailed by at least three members of an immediate family. Second place in PHRF B went to Jim, with Lugano third.
Farr 40 racing was wily and wild, with Blade II and Insanity battling it out for first. But a penalty in Race Five proved a setback for Insanity which they couldn’t overcome. They finished second to Blade II, with Dark Star third.
Racing the Catalina 37s for both trophies and bragging rights on the bay, Team D-Ives Plus held off a robust challenge by Temptress to nab the title: squeezing out Temptress by two points, with Team Del Rey Yacht Club just one point astern.
For their effort, D-Ives Plus won both the Catalina 37 National Championship and Satariano One Design Boat of the Week award. In addition, Keith Ives’ accomplishment gave his colleagues a leg-up in the Team Challenge, capturing that honor alongside LBYC teammates Whiplash and Relentless.
It could be said that Bob Little and team ‘crushed’ the competition in the J/109 division, with Blue Crush edging out Fuzzy Logic by two points, and Raptor in third. Said Little, “It was super tough competition this weekend. Our contenders were super-fast boats all weekend and the competition was fierce. The win did not come easy.” The team was recognized as the J/109 Pacific Coast Champion.
Ed Feo’s Loco X advanced into first place in the Viper 640 division on Day Two and hung on to win the Pacific Coast Championship title. Tight racing in that fleet saw several changes in the leaderboard over the three-day regatta, with Geoff Fargo’s Boomslang leaping into second after a stellar Day Two which earned the team One-Design Boat of the Day trophy. They finished second with Boiling Point third, just one point over Haulin’ Asp.
PHRF Boat of the Week honors went to Ken Keiding’s ARGO4, which prevailed over a half dozen stunning and slick competitors in the random leg-A division. In over 60nm of random leg racing, it came down to one point between Argo 4 and second place Saga. Nereid finished third.
Winning the Schock 35 Pacific Coast Championship was Roderick Messinger’s Buttercup: reputed to be hull number one of the legendary Schock 35 fleet. And while Messinger may have been a newbie at USLBRW, the storied history of Buttercup was not.
Messinger, a retired lifeguard, purchased the boat in 2018 from its original owner: Dennis Conner. He reported Conner was specifically looking to sell the boat to a rookie; someone who would learn to sail, go out, and get others involved in the sport.
After changing hands, Messinger undertook extensive renovations for Buttercup, included the painstaking removal of 40 years and multiple layers of bottom paint. He said refurbishment efforts will eventually benefit his son and grandson, although for now Messinger is joyfully carrying out Conner’s wishes and the legacy of this boat.
He said he rarely sails with the same crew twice and has been actively seeking new sailors. For USLBRW, however, veteran sailors Mark Harris and Scott Serber pitched in to guide the new skipper and work with the crew. Rumor has it Buttercup is the only boat Conner never lost a race on. After three days of racing and first-overall honors in the class, indeed Buttercup’s legacy continues.
Messinger was quick to give thanks to USLBRW race organizers and committee, volunteers and ABYC and LBYC staff. “It’s not only that they have done such a great job, but it’s the whole welcoming vibe of the event,” he said. “I’m very honored to be here.”
J/111 skipper Derek Heeb concurred. “It’s an absolute pleasure to be here.” He’s only owned his J/111 Gurli for a week, so this regatta was their first. “It was a great inaugural race for the crew, and such a great venue with lots of breeze!” He added, “I also deeply appreciate Ullman’s Sails helping out with all the snags and tears the weekend brought.”
Title sponsor and Ullman Sails Newport Beach proprietor Bruce Cooper estimated that 65-percent of racers were participating in a one-design class and that is an area destined to grow. He lauded ABYC and LBYC for their management of the regatta, and added, “The cooperation of these two yacht clubs has made for a great team for many years. For anyone who missed this year’s Race Week, we’ll be back bigger and better next year!”