Southern California’s centerpiece regatta, The Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week began the 1st full Summer Day of 2018 in ideal summer like pattern. The fog that persisted during the prior couple days burned back by midday, leaving behind ideal warm, sunny conditions over a bed of flat warm blue sea. Joining the annual celebration this year for their second straight year, the PAC52 class, wrapping up the SoCal Portion of their 5 stop West Coast Grand Prix Tour.
The same contingent which enjoyed very tight racing just a few weeks prior at the California Yacht Club’s Cal Race Week up the coast a piece, were in attendance. Local boats, David Team’s Vesper and Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio, along with Tom Holthus’s San Diego based BadPak, Frank Slootman’s San Francisco based Invisible Hand and all the way from the Jersey area, Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s Interlodge. Interlodge’s owner was back at the helm after last regatta’s health issues and all were glad to see him.
With two races on the schedule, the racing got underway at 13:00 hours with building WSW winds in the 3-5 knot range at the bottom of the course. Vesper got off to another great light wind jump and was lead boat in tight formation at the weather mark, which was already seeing the famed Long Beach winds begin to build. In hot pursuit, Invisible Hand and Rio with Interlodge then BadPak just behind. Invisible Hand’s downwind performance kicked into gear on the 1st jaunt to the leeward gates but an uncharacteristic lengthy take down allowed RIO an opening which she gladly took. RIO would chose the left gate and head back up on the right side, which was seeing a favorable right hand shift. The 3 others would follow RIO to the right.
At the weather mark, RIO would maintain a minimal advantage over Vesper and a gaining Invisible Hand, then Interlodge and BadPak. The charge down the course saw most boats gybing early and getting back to the left. Excitement ensued at the finish as RIO charged past Invisible Hand with a nice cushion, which in turn lead Invisible Hand to focus on Vesper, pulling off a starboard right away move sending Vesper off course and slowing them down. Interlodge would cross 36 seconds later with BadPak slightly behind.
Race 2 would begin in brisker conditions, 12-13 knots and another 10 degree shift to the right. The committee boat side heavily favored and all boats not named BadPak cleared the anchor rode and quickly flopped onto port. In the brisker conditions. BadPak would soon join the fleet on the right side.
At the weather mark, a very tight bunching would see Invisible Hand just in front of Vesper who had snuck in again from below the layline, with Interlodge and RIO nipping at her heels.
BadPak’s luck again was on the bad side as she stalled luffing attempting to get over the weather mark, creating residual issues with the following set. All boats would quickly gybe to get back to the left. Invisible Hand would use her downwind afterburners to put some boat lengths between her and the fleet by the bottom gate, Vesper 15 seconds behind followed by RIO Interlodge and BadPak. Vesper would again take a lower layline course up to the final weather mark, but come in behind Invisible Hand, which was really starting to enjoy the building winds. The 3 other boats, led by Interlodge would round a good ways back, but in a tight group that had RIO the BadPak close behind. Invisble Hand would not be caught despite Vesper valiant efforts, the Silver Steed enjoying a 17 second delta for the bullet. Yet back up the track the 3 remaining boats were locked in a dead heat, all charging towards the finish fully powered. And as they crossed the line in a photo finish, RIO would just surge ahead of Interlodge for a 1 second edge and a 4 second edge over BadPak.
The day would end with a bullet apiece for Invisible Hand and RIO Scores for regatta thus far
3 Races are scheduled for Saturday and 2 on Sunday