While much of the East Coast battened hatches and boarded windows in anticipation of Hurricane Irene, I was busy gathering my storm supplies for the 2011 Balboa Yacht Club & Newport Harbor Yacht Club Long Point Invitational Race Week. As always, I brought along my Excedrin Migraine, Tums Ultra 1000, drinking water and 7UPs for the forecasted rum squalls.
This not being my first rodeo, I seem to be better preparing for this event each year. Over the last two years, I have attended both breakfasts at Moonstone and Whites, navigated past the "Tree ring" toss at Moonstone, stayed dry during the beach landing at Whites and been physically able to attend the party on Saturday Night.
I do not get it. Three years ago we won this event overall and now, with the ability to stay away from the rum squalls, we have finished in the lower part of the fleet.
The constant of the event is the people and the scenery. This is what truly makes this event the mother of all sailing events in Southern California. This year we had everything from Dr. Laura Schlessinger's newly built Kantana to the return of the Rolex Rangers aboard the 1939 built Chubasco, skippered by Craig Cadwalader.
Now blend in Payson Infelise's Mile High Club with John Garrison's Checkmate, and you have the ingredients of the perfect weekend. Making sure everything stays together throughout the weekend year after year are the two yacht clubs' sailing administrators, BYC's Becky Lenhart and NHYC's Jennifer Lancaster.
Becky and Jennifer are the ones who deserve all the credit for making this the best event of the year.
This year's event, from Aug. 26 to Aug. 28, was challenging in many ways. Friday's forecast of no wind turned out to be incorrect, piping up over 20 knots by the finish. The fastest way to the finish line was to "Go fast and go straight," and not beat up the beach. I have to eat a lot of crow on this one because I was using every hand signal I know to convince the boat on our weather hip to tack and head up the beach.
"Sorry about that bird signal I used, commodore!"
Saturday started with the breeze up and a couple of boats throwing reefs in their mains. When, 10 minutes from the starting gun, the wind disappeared and we frantically started shaking the reefs out and changing back to our larger headsails.
The racecourse is from Long Point around Bird Rock, at the Isthmus, and return. This race is one of my favorite races of the year, and I have done very well in this race over the years with a big headache. This year, the only headache I had was that the wind stopped and shifted 180 degrees, and I was on the wrong side of the racecourse.
Sunday's race was perfect: hot sunny skies with large thunderhead clouds and 15 knots of breeze. We hit the starting line at full speed and right on time.
We set our 3A spinnaker and were looking good all the way to the finish line. For most of the race I could read the home port from the Amanate transom until we were about a quarter of a mile from the finish at the Newport Pier, when the wind decided to stop. Oh well! It was time for a cold beverage and a recap from the weekend.
First lesson learned by a crew member aboard Condor: Never take a close-up photo of a buffalo. They don't like it and will send you home in a helicopter. My understanding is that the crew member is OK and just took a big hit in the credit card for the taxi service home.
Quote of the weekend: "I am just glad we ran out of beer on the way home."
It's been another fantastic summer in Newport Harbor, and I am already looking forward to next year. Remember to read my blog site at lenboseyachts.blogspot.com to keep updated on the weekly dredging and my unedited stories.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.