Late this week I entered Pacific High (my Tim Kernan designed 32' ULDB) in the remaining races of Catalina Island Series. A 10 race/5 weekend series of stop over events that transit from Long Beach, CA to Catalina Island and back from April to October sponsored by the Long Beach Yacht Club. LBYC has been hosting these races since the early 1960's and I have been participating all this time over the years starting on my dad's boat Tarentella, a 50' Enderlein designed sloop built in Sweden and launched in San Pedro in 1955.
To continue the tradition of the Washburn Boys sailing in this event my oldest son Steve joined us today as he is home now for the summer from his freshman year at the Washington University in St. Louis. We motored over this morning to Catalina to race home in the 26 NM race from Emerald Cove, Catalina to Long Beach, CA. Something we have done many times over the years as when the SoCal Westerly fills in the sailing is fabulous from Catalina back to the mainland---- (See a few posts below for a similar story from last summer of our sprint from Ship Rock back to Long Beach) Also joining us for this day of fun was Bob Kwansy, a friend of mine who I met earlier this year who has been sailing with us since last January in various events and is a pleasure to have on board.
The weather forecast promised a 10 - 15 knot westerly and even though the fleet got off to a slow start the wind did fill in for a great afternoon of sailing. But let's back up a little---
The day started by getting up at 4:30am and getting organized----- Picking up Steve, grabbing Starbuck's coffee in the thermos, icing down the waters and Gatorades and getting some deli sandwiches at the 24 hour Albertsons. Steve, Bob and I then met at Pac High at 6am for the 4 hour motor to the island. An uneventful pleasant trip where on arrival we picked up a mooring and enjoyed a 90 minute break in paradise rigging the boat, talking and relaxing.
It was one of those mornings where the westerly was not going to fill in for real until well after 1pm. The LBYC RC had their starting line set at 11am for the noon starts and got the fleet off in no winds at all with all the competitors drifting and working towards where each competitor thought best. We were extremely patient and hung tough working the rhumb line with our Code 0 sail (an upwind spinnaker) as most of the fleet sailed extra miles to the west to get the breeze first. And even though they did get the wind first the extra distance sailed was too much to overcome. Pac High was launched down low and as as the breeze filled in to her strengths we had much less distance to cover to the finish line sailing faster to boot.
But nothing in sailboat racing is a a given----- instead of an easy sail to the finish we were challenged on several levels-- shipping traffic into Long Beach Harbor made for some tactical decisions that were make or break to win the race as we had to gybe clear of a big tanker in a breeze------ and gybing Pac High in a breeze with her big Ayso in a big swell and shipping wakes is no easy task------ but Bob and my son Steve were awesome sailing mates that stepped up to the task and recovered from a wrapped Ayso 2 times and then executed a brilliant take down to a tight reach to the finish around the east end of the Long Beach Breakwater. Pac High was the 4th boat in fleet to finish behind a Santa Cruz 70. an Andrew 45 and a Farr 40. We also got home in front of a Santa Cruz 52 and a new Alan Andrews 40 foot sport boat among many other larger boats---
A treat for us was that Magic Light, a well known turboed Hobie 33 that has been very tough to beat over the years and a very well sailed boat also motored over for the race home. We hooked up side by side and exchanged the usual "hey what do you rate" pleasantries a few minutes before the start -- It looks like Pac High got the best of this race as we were fortunate to get across the finish line 3 minutes or so in front of them. Good for us as the venerable Hobie 33 has been a tough boat to beat and was a hard decision for me as an alternative when I decided to go for Tim Kernan's design to rip it up in SoCal offwind point to point racing----