Thursday, June 13, 2013

J/Fest @ Cal Race Week

(Marina del Rey, CA)- Cal Race Week continues to be a highlight for many sailing teams as more and more racers discover the pleasure of late spring sailing in Marina del Rey, with afternoon breezes in the low to mid-teens, sun and perfect temperatures for racing around the buoys.  That's what the Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce proclaimed before everyone headed for the race course-- one where the boats are sailing in the shadows of the monstrous LAX Airport and having to sometimes suffer from  their noise abatement take-off procedures for such lilliputian jumbo jets like the Airbus 380!

Despite the noise to the south, the standard "sea breeze" blows most of the noise away as it fills in from the WNW and builds all day long, thanks to the mountain ranges to the east and massive amounts of concrete throughout the smog-ridden Los Angeles basin sucking in all the breeze.  The enormous benefit of this phenomenon is that sailors enjoy beautiful, crystal-clear, smog-free days along a somewhat picturesque coastline.

Furthermore, what many SoCal sailors have come to know, is that California Yacht Club has won US SAILING’s prestigious St. Petersburg trophy for excellence in race management three times in recent years! Multiple courses with separate start/finish lines minimize interference between boats in different classes and insure that most of your time on the water will be spent racing. No kidding, the Cal YC RC team does a fantastic job of keeping the pace rolling with fleets starting and finishing at the same time!

The weekend’s hospitality was a fitting complement to the on-the-water competition. There was entertainment both days, with hosted beverages on the docks after racing (yes, ice-cold, refreshing local micro-brewery beer served from a kegger on the dock!). Plus, it's hard to beat their no-host BBQ on Saturday and complimentary beverages with hors d’oeuvres at the trophy presentation on Sunday.

Enjoying every minute of the weekend were a small armada of J Teams enjoying the fine weather and fabulous hospitality.  While the regatta attracted 77 boats from around SoCal, ranging from Santa Barbara to the north and San Diego to the south, fully 38% of the fleet (29 boats) were J sailors racing one-design in J/70s, J/80s, J/109s, J/105s and J/24s.

For Saturday's racing, the wind started out in the NW quadrant and slowly backed to the WNW.  As a result, the old axiom of "left early, right late" never worked.  In fact, the strategy of the day was highly atypical for the area with "go West young man" being the order of the day.  Sunday's racing was quite radically different, too.  Despite filling in from the SW due to an enormous High pressure ridge, the wind never clocked (or did so rarely), so the breeze funneling down the coast had greater pressure and lifts coming from the left upwind (and, conversely, downwind).  As a result, the "south of the border" strategy appeared to be the order of the day.  Strange, that it was!

Course 2, north of the Marina del Rey jetties and halfway to the Santa Monica Pier, were the fleets of J/70s, J/80s and J/24s.  The J/80s produced one of the perfect scorelines, with Curt Johnson's AVET again taking the crown for their "three-peat" win in Cal Race Week by taking straight firsts for 5 pts. The battle was really for the balance of the podium with the outcome determined by the last two races on Sunday.  Taking second was Steve Wyman's NUHUNU with 3-2-2-2-3 scores for 12 pts, nipping by one point that team of BLUE JAY sailed by Bob Hayward with a 2-3-3-3-2 tally for 13 pts.   Sailing photo credits- Bronny Daniels/   For more Cal Race Week sailing information