|Alamitos Bay Yacht Club Rolls Out Red Carpet for 2012 SCYA Midwinters|
|Written by Peter Beardsley|
|Thursday, 23 February 2012 01:29|
Feb. 18-19, 2012
For those who pay close attention to the front page and class news, you know that Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach, California, will be hosting the 2014 Viper North Americans. Outside the fleets in Arizona, San Diego and Seattle, allegedly no east coast Viperers have made the trip to the L.A. area. Sure, we've all read about the legendary sailing conditions in Southern California, listened to the Beach Boys classic “California Girls”, heard of the infamous “Timbo”, maybe even staged our own Speedpuck photo with a thumbs up, a smirk and a wink. But we haven't visited, and we should. So I did...
2012 SCYA Midwinter champion Tim "Timbo" Carter. Photo courtesy Rich Roberts.
Every President's Day weekend, clubs from Santa Barbara to San Diego play host to the largest regatta in the United States (and maybe the world): the SCYA Midwinters. 100 one design classes spread out over 20+ clubs for two days of racing to kick off the west coast season. Thanks to the efforts of Tim Carter and the generosity of Kevin and Garett Brown, I was able to fly out on a week's notice from New York to L.A. for nearly half the cost of a plane ticket to Miami and borrow Viper 38. And why not? With no work on Monday, a bleak ski season in the northeast, and no good frostbiting opportunities that weekend in Larchmont, it was an easy call to go race against 10 Vipers in idyllic conditions. If racing in Miami is like preparation for racing in heaven (in the oft spoken words of Justin Scott), then racing in Long Beach is like Buddha's nirvana. You're free from clouds, free from cold, not left wanting for wind or beer or hospitality, achieving inner peace while humming along on a run, save for the occasional interruption by a barking sea lion. It's paradise, and yet despite this, the locals insisted on "apologizing" for the "lousy", "unpredictable" "winter weather" on Saturday, when the wind only reached 11 knots and was 100 degrees farther left than the summer conditions that we'll have in 2.5 years. Those guys are seriously spoiled.
For those who have never been to ABYC, it looks a lot like Severn Sailing Association or Cedar Point Yacht Club, except a bit larger, with palm trees, larger parking lots, beaches, a professional bartender and a gorgeous widow's walk that overlooks the harbor and race area. In true California style, you're allowed to walk through the club with your hat on while talking on your cell phone with bare (but not sandy) feet. The folks are friendly and the race management is top notch, with several Olympic trials and world championships under their belts, including the 2012 F-18 Worlds. In short: it's a club that loves its one design sailing, doesn't put on pretensions and runs a first class program, with everything a sailor could possibly need.
And oh yes, there was racing too, only a one-mile sail from the yacht club, past the jetty and into San Pedro Bay. An 8-mile long breakwater protects the coastline and course from the famous west coast swells, and takes away what I thought would have been a major local advantage, leaving plenty of playground for the many fleets on two separate starting areas. Saturday's SSE breeze was a bit atypical and brought the fleet on the first beat close to the shore of Island Chaffee, a man-made mass for a sizable oil-rig, which placed a premium on boathandling for a quick set and gybe away from the shore. Getting too far right meant dodging lulls creating by the lee of several anchored tankers, so keeping your head up was key. Greg Jackson's Arizona team aboard Heroin started like a scalded cat with a 2,1 in the lighter conditions. Once the breeze filled, local teams headed by Timbo and Jim Sears caught fire. On Sunday, the RC completed another three races in a windier southwester that touched the mid teens and inspired a rare modified Olympic course for the final race, with challenging reaches for those accustomed to only windward-leewards. New owner Ed Feo figured things out on Sunday rolling a 2,1,3 to move into third overall, two points behind Sears and four points behind the 2012 SCYA Midwinter Champion, California fleet captain Tim Carter.
Jim Sears and team aboard FNG lead Nigel Brownett on Sunday. FNG = "Friendly New Guy"...expletive deleted.
As for me, I was happy to be out there with my pick-up crew, neither of whom had sailed a Viper before, soaking in the sun and learning a bit about the area. I think people would have been just as friendly even if we hadn't won the longest distance traveled award, but we'll have to find out for sure again in 2013 and 2014, since hey, what else are you going to do President's Day weekend in the northeast? And for anyone who was on the fence about the 2014 North Americans, start figuring out how to put multiple Vipers on the back of a flatbed truck, or consider investing in those new Rondar multi-boat Viper trailers -- or else the sea lions will hunt you down.