June in Southern California is synonyms with a few things. June Gloom, summer break (I wish kids were on year round school), south swells and Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week (LBRW). LBRW has been a staple in this area for many years and still attracts a plethora of boats and good sailors.
My first LBRW was on board an X79 when I was 15 years old. To put that in reference, I turned 40 on Monday. Back then the party was at the Pink Palace Hotel, and at 15, I was introduced to one of the most fun regatta parties I have ever been witness to. Fast forward to 2018 and the Pink Palace has just been demolished to make way for a gentrified shopping and eating complex. Times are changing.
One thing that has not changed at LBRW is the Schock 35 fleet. They are still coming out in numbers to compete in their classic one design fleet. This year nine showed up and battled it out for bragging rights on the course in front of Seal Beach, with Code Blue the winner..
LBRW always seems to offer up some decent wind and interesting pool parties and 2018 did not disappoint. The wind this year was a bit different as it came more from the south and made for some interesting conditions, especially inside the breakwater. Team GBU (Catalina 37) won the pool party for sure. They had the most crew members in the pool at closing time Saturday, so they dominated that award.
I was back on the Viper 640 with Ed Feo and his Loco X. Not sure it the X represents 10 for the amount of Locomotion’s he has had, or the amount of Vipers we have gone through. We flew in my old teammate from the FNG days, Evan Hoffman, to round out the 3 person team. The Viper 640 is an extremely fun boat and with the 2019 Worlds coming to the LBC it will surely increase the participation within the fleet.
Right now the Viper 640 fleet in So Cal is comprised of a variety of skill levels and personalities. This was really apparent on the dock after Day 1 when I got to witness some “fun” antics between two competitors. What really makes the group good to sail with is in the evening, when everyone gets together around a keg to discuss what worked and what did not work. Tim Carter, Viper legend in these parts, runs the fleet and organizes these moments, and I for one, really appreciate it. The Saturday Keg debrief really helped me get an idea of how to move forward for the weekend. The information from Steve Flam (It’s All Good) and Geoff Fargo’s team was crucial in helping us get up to pace. It had been a while since Loco X has raced and we were a bit rusty to say the least. Evan and I took some time to get our footing and technique down, and some of our fleet management could have been a bit better. By Sunday we felt that we were almost back to par and were mixing it up with the big boys again.
The top of the Viper fleet is competitive and the guys seem to have the boats dialed in. Coming in from Santa Barbara is my favorite team to root for, Boomslang. Geoff Fargo (owner of Boomslang) campaigns his Viper continuously and travels all over to race. Geoff is a younger guy in the sport and represents the kind of people we need involved to make sailing move forward. He has a young fun crew and races hard without losing sight of why he is there. I do feel almost bad for tacking on you guys Sunday but hey, we were just trying to move up the ladder in our own fight.
The racing came down to the final day with Nice ASP, It’s All Good and the Boomslang all within in touching distance of the top spot. Mike Pentecost (owner of Nice ASP) was fired up Saturday night and I could see it in his eyes he was gunning for the win. He came out Sunday and sailed hard. The first race on Sunday saw us (surprisingly) leading the fleet for two of the three mark rounding’s. Just behind us were Last Call and Nice ASP. The final beat we could not decide who to cover and lost out to Last Call who rounded the last mark just in front. One bad gybe on the way down and Nice ASP managed to nick us at the finish. We were a bit disappointed but realized that our lack of sharpness cost us this one. You cannot underestimate the value of practice and time in a boat.
Nice ASP came out winners by one point. One Design Racing at it’s best! Everyone was happy and congratulatory, and unlike another one design fleet, we did not have dubious protests within the top boats doing their best to win it off the water. Another great aspect of the Viper 640 fleet that keeps me coming back! Photo Thanks to Tom Walker
– Keith Magnussen