Countdown to Long Beach Race Week
Published on June 15th, 2023
The 18th edition of Long Beach Race Week (LBRW) is scheduled for June 22-25 in Long Beach, CA. Hosted by the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club (ABYC) and the Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC), LBRW is open to multiple classes and this year will hold the Catalina 37 National Championship, the Schock 35 Pacific Coast Championship, the Viper 640 Pacific Coast Championship, and the J/70, J/80, J/105, J/109, and J/120 Southern California High Point Series. Competing for the first time is the Melges 15 class.
Kevin Thomas, from Long Beach and a member of the ABYC, purchased his Melges 15 last fall and is one of sixteen competitors registered to date who will be racing in the fleet. He’s raced LBRW for over thirty years on many boats including CF37, Melges 24, J/109, J/105, Viper 640 and J/70. This year he will be sailing with his crew of eleven years, Helen Burdett – they did their first LBRW together in 2007.
“The local fleet is just getting started and we’ll get a chance to sail with a couple of the guys from the Pacific Northwest and Tahoe area who have had their boats longer, so we hope to learn from them,” Thomas said.
“The Melges 15 has been raced a lot more on the east coast so we’re behind the curve here on how to make the boats go fast so it’ll be good to race against so many other boats. With the Long Beach breeze there’ll be a lot of planing downwind which I’m looking forward to; Long Beach is a great place for this boat.”
Jim Murrell, who was formerly involved in the Farr 40 class, has been racing his J/70 Huckleberry for the past five years and was J/70 class president for two years, helping to bring the J/70 Worlds to Marina del Rey in 2021. Murrell took third in class last year and is looking forward to great competition.
“We’re looking forward to the J/70 class hopefully being the biggest one design class with 20+ boats,” Murrell smiled. “Traditionally, for whatever reason, Californians and J/70 people are always late to sign up so I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a significant number of entries!
“I really like the competition in the J/70 fleet, it’s got a lot of top-level competition, it’s affordable so you can be competitive at a much lower budget while also having a lot of fun.”
Bob Marcus, owner/skipper of the Schock 35 Code Blue, has been attending LBRW since 1989, when the regatta was known as Golison Race Week. He may have missed a couple of years since then, but he figures he has competed in some 33 events. Early on he raced PHRF on J105s, Catalina 37s, and for the last twelve years on the Schock 35, enjoying the one design aspect of the class.
“It’s a venerable class, it’s got a lot of history, and the competition has always been tough,” Marcus said. “LBRW is a premier regatta, race management is always fantastic and there’s been a lot of innovation over the years throughout various incarnations of the race. Best of all the competition has been really tough, the regatta brings out the best in everybody.”
Competitors can look forward to some of the best sailing conditions in the country next week, notes John Busch, PRO.
“One of the nice things about racing in Long Beach is that we have a consistent wind that blows through about 10-12 knots on a daily basis from the southwest,” he said. “The temperature will be warm, and the competition is always tight, fierce and a lot of fun. This year we will have two racing circles; the inside circle, which is inside the breakwater, and the outside circle for the bigger boats to give them more runway.”
Busch has been involved with LBRW from its early beginnings, from a race management perspective, as a racer and also a race official. He cites that the event is more than just getting out on the water.
“One of the many nice things about LBRW is that you get to catch up with your buddies after racing at either the ABYC or LBYC – the two clubs host parties and the competitors really enjoy how we put the social events together. The regatta is as much about the parties as it is about getting together with people you haven’t seen in a while and having some fun partying at night. We put on a world-class regatta on the water and that’s what we’re known for!”
The event is grateful to the generosity and support of its 2023 sponsors including Ullman Sails, Evans, Clarke Marine Insurance, Cabrillo Boat Shop, The Oriana Shea Group, Tom Walker Photography, Pirates Lair, Durant Design and Construction, and Mount Gay Rum.
Conditions permitting, it is expected that two races will be sailed in most classes on Friday, three races on Saturday, and two races on Sunday.
Parties featuring music and dancing will be hosted by ABYC on Friday night, then Saturday & Sunday night at LBYC. Prize giving will be held at LBYC on Sunday at 5:30 PM.
Source: Michelle Slade, LBRW