Rock stars descend on California
Dennis Conner, Dave Ullman, Paul Cayard and Dee Smith will be calling tactics on some of the larger boats competing Friday, Saturday and Sunday,
along with Olympic medallists Jeff Madrigali, Steve Benjamin and Ross Macdonald and America's Cup veteran Ed Baird.
The entry list---all keelboats from 20 feet up, topped by 29 J/105s---had climbed to 168 Thursday and was expected to surpass the record of 170 boats that sailed in 2000.
Conner will sail on Dale Williams' ILC 46, Wasabi, from San Francisco. Ullman, whose Melges 24 was Boat of the Week last year, will be on Brack Duker's Farr 40, Revolution. Cayard will complement the crack crew of John Kilroy's defending Farr 40 winner, Samba Pa Ti. Dee Smith, who just finished the Volvo Ocean Race on Amer Sports One, will be on Mary Coleman's Farr 40, Astra, from San Francisco.
The three-day event will be run on three courses: one inside the Long Beach outer harbor, one outside the federal breakwater and another to the east off Seal Beach. Classes will include five PHRF and eight one-design: Farr 40, J/120, 1D35, Schock 35, J/105, J/24, Melges 24 and Santana 20.
In-class competitions will include the J/120 North American Championships, Farr 40 Pacific Coast Championships, Schock 35 Pacific Coast Championships and the J/24 Western Regionals, which is a J/24 world championships qualifier.
The J/120s, 1D35s and Schock 35s will sail two races Friday at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Other classes will sail one race Friday at 4, then two each Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m., except for the J/24s and Santana 20s, which won't race Friday but will do three races Saturday and two Sunday.
Among several winners returning is Tom Carruthers, sailing Incorrigible in the largest fleet of J/105s assembled in Southern California.
"It's amazing how many good programs have come into the fleet this year," Carruthers said, citing former Schock 35 leaders Carolyn Hardy ( Mischief), Dennis Case ( Wings) and Ed Cummins ( Bold Forbes). "They know how to make boats go. If you see me on the podium again it'll be because I got lucky."
Carruthers believes there is less difference in the boats than in the crews. "We installed float lines this year and made all the boats sink down to the same level, which was a great equalizer," he said.
But Carruthers may have one advantage in tactics and strategy: Steve and Barney Flam. Steve, the son, is a local amateur who is in frequent demand on an international level. Barney, the father, has spent his life sailing these waters.
"Jeff Trask [of J/Boats] knew I was looking for a tactician," Carruthers said. "He called me up and said, 'This is your lucky day. Would you accept Steve Flam?'
"I said, 'Yeah, right.' He said, 'No, seriously, but there's a catch. You gotta take his dad with you.'
" 'The only guy who knows more about sailing in Long Beach than Steve? Yeah, I can take him.' I told the rest of the crew, 'All we have to do is see that the boat's going fast through the water. We have a couple of guys that'll know where to put us.' "
The marine forecast calls for an overnight curtain of fog to rise each morning, Friday through Sunday, bringing brisk sea breezes as triple-digit temperatures in Southern California's inland areas draw the cooler air from the ocean. Temperatures on the race courses are expected to be in the lows 70s.
Long Beach, by its location on the south coast of Greater Los Angeles opposite Santa Catalina Island, especially benefits from a funnel effect blowing through the San Pedro Channel that produces customary summer winds of 10 to 20 knots.
North Sails Race Week is produced by Golison & Golison. Premiere Racing, Inc., the event organizer for Terra Nova Trading Key West 2003, is co-producer for this event.
In addition to North Sails and Nautica Watches, North Sails Race Week is joined by supporters Team McLube and J/Boats. Nautica is a leading global
fashion and lifestyle company with products ranging from men's, women's and children's sportswear and accessories to a complete home collection.
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