California Yacht Club

One Wednesday Night:

Sailing World

California Yacht Club

Courtesy of Tom Leweck

California YC
Marina del Rey, Calif.

What's going on here? It's August 12, the height of the Southern California Summer season, and I'm freezing my buns off. There are probably 20 of us aboard Jay Steinberg's Andrews 52 Margaritaville—some of the guys bring their girlfriends, so it's hard to keep track—but Jay's the only one smart enough to be wearing long-sleeved trou. Where's Al Gore when you need him?

There are 83 entries in the California YC’s Sunset Series tonight, divided into the usual seven classes. In spite of the marine layer and unseasonably cold temperatures, it’s a pretty nice night with 8 to 10 knots of breeze and flat water.

Jerry is the designated tactician tonight and sets up for a start at the committee boat end of the line in our eight-boat class. But somehow Jerry overlooks the fierce revelry between two of the Farr 40s in our class—one of which was perfectly happy to be head-to-wind at the gun if in doing so he could shut the door his adversary. And that's exactly what he did, peeling off the other Farr 40 at the committee boat. The fact that we got peeled off too was an added bonus.
So we start a bit late, but quickly find a lane to the right side, where we stumble onto a bit more pressure. Two-thirds of the way up the 2.5-mile beat we are back in the hunt.

The good news is that we were now just a boat length behind John MacLaurin's bright red Davidson 52, Pendragon IV. The bad news is that nothing much changes after we both round the weather mark, hoist kites, and run down to the harbor entrance. Once inside of Marina del Rey there are no passing lanes on the way to the finish line in front of CYC. We are second across the line behind the red boat, finishing the 6.9-mile race in just over an hour.

For many boats that would be the end of the story, but not for the Margarittaville crew. For us, the race is just the start of the fun. As soon as the sails are folded we break out the bowl of Margaritas, and the dock party begins. No one leaves that party early.

But even the dock party is not the final act of the night. From there it's off to Cal Yacht Club to collect our prize. Unfortunately, tonight it's for third place. That damn Farr 40 who was head-to-wind at the start won the race. We'll get him next week.
—Tom Leweck