Final curtain call

North Sails Race Week calls it a day due to lack of funding

Thursday July 8th 2004, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United States
The 20th edition of North Sails Race Week June 25-27 marked the end for this highly regarded regional regatta.

Over the past 20 years, North Sails Race Week evolved into a premier racing event on the West Coast. The regatta has been recognized for its continuous innovation and professional race and event management. Founded in 1985 by Bruce and Margo Golison, the regatta held in the waters off Long Beach had grown into one of the top regional one-design and handicap regattas in the country, and was the regatta that most West Coast sailors pointed to as their "championship event" of the year.

"We're proud of what we have accomplished over the past 20 years," Bruce Golison said. "In addition to providing a great event and world-class race management, we are proud to know that we have made our sport better with some of the innovations that we have developed over the years.

"The innovation we are most proud of, and one that is currently used worldwide in sailing, is the 'Protest Arbitration System.' We developed this system 17 years ago to streamline protest procedures. It took the sailing bureaucracy some time to accept our system, but protest arbitration works wonders, and the boat owners love it. Now it is a part of our sport forever, I would hope."

The event routinely attracted the stars of the sport, in recent years showcasing Dean Barker, Paul Cayard, Dennis Conner, Peter Isler, John Cutler, John Kostecki, Mark Reynolds, Hamish Pepper, Robbie Haines, Ed Baird, the McKee brothers, Lowell North and Buddy Melges. These sailors competed against some of the best amateur competition from Seattle to San Diego. The dependable June sea breeze was as consistent as the top tier competition.

Golison said, "This regatta has always been a highlight on the racing calendars of serious sailors up and down the coast. However, the financial and logistical hurdles are higher than ever. We frankly didn't achieve the levels of corporate sponsorship and industry support that are needed to run a top calibre, professionally managed regatta.

"For 11 years we had Audi of America and Trimble Navigation as title sponsors, along with North Sails, and they made the event financially viable. But for the past seven years corporate sponsorship of that level simply has been unavailable to us. To further complicate future viability, the majority of participating boat owners and classes have shown marked resistance to entry fee increases."

Co-manager Peter Craig of Premiere Racing said, "This was a difficult decision. Bruce Golison has consistently delivered a terrific regatta. He has worked tirelessly to keep North Sails Race Week a highlight on the West Coast racing calendar and to keep it financially viable."

Gary Weisman, president of title sponsor North Sails said, "It deeply saddens North Sails to see Race Week come to an end. Having been a key player for 18 years with the Golisons, they are to be congratulated by all for the innovative, exciting and unique approach they've brought to yacht racing. We will miss their fantastic support and the enthusiasm they brought to Southern California's premier regatta. North has always been a proud participant in such a high quality event."

North Sails Race Week fleet size ranged from 120 to- 175 boats in recent years with both one-design and PHRF racing offered. The one-design classes represented in 2004 included the Farr 40, Schock 35, J/120, J/109, J/105, Melges 24 and Santana 20. This event also served as the Pacific Coast Championships for the Farr 40 and Schock 35 classes.

"Losing North Sails Race Week is a huge loss," said Dave Ullman, a longtime competitor. "For sailing in Southern California, it is the premier regatta. Either something will have to step up to take its place or we'll be lacking a major regatta here. North Sails Race Week was the only non-yacht club-affiliated regatta. A yacht club will have trouble doing it on the scale that Golison has done it all these years. North Sails Race Week and the St. Francis Yacht Club's Big Boat Series were the two premier West Coast regattas."

John Wylie, a 1D35 owner, said, "North Sails Race Week is the measure of how you stack up with the rest of the fleet---in fact, it has become the unofficial championship regatta for Southern California. The RC work is flawless and the post race activities most enjoyable."

Dennis Case, a past class winner in the Schock 35 and J/105 classes, said, "Having no North Sails Race Week creates a big hole. We don't have enough major regattas on this coast and losing the biggest one will definitely hurt. I've been going every year for the last 10 years and on other people's boats before that."

Golison & Golison has partnered with Premiere Racing in since 2000. North Sails has been the event's title sponsor for the past 18 years. Nautica Watches, the Official Timekeeper and Day Sponsor, has been a part of this event for the past six years. Samson Rope Technologies, Raymarine and Rigworks were also official sponsors for the most recent event.

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