Long Beach Race Week - Sailors prepare to be tested

Tracey Kenney is back as a female force in the Open 5.70s
Long Beach Race Week is set to take place from 22-24 June and will be co-hosted by the Alamitos Bay and Long Beach Yacht Clubs. Big or small, one-design or speed-rated handicaps, around the buoys or offshore ... whatever their pleasure, the best of the West will be tested by the competition, the elements and parties onshore every night Friday through Sunday. With total entries approaching 150 in a dozen or more classes, the annual event is the West Coast's largest keelboat regatta.

The leading players will be young and old and men, women and kids, including Jeff Janov of Malibu in the Farr 40 class, and Tracey Kenney of Woodland Hills, Calif. in Open 5.70s. Janov's Dark Star last year ran away in an 11-boat grand prix fleet with three wins in seven races and no finish worse than fourth.

The 5.70s will be the smallest boats but the largest class, with 21 entered and Kenney one of the favorites. She won in 2010, was second in 2011, third in 2009 and fourth in 2008---the boat's first year of competition.

'I was the first [Open 5.70] buyer in the country in 2008,' Kenney said. 'It's a very friendly fleet. I feel lucky to be a part of it.'

Her crew will be Barrett Sprout, who has been a dominant skipper in Coronado 15s.

The boat, designed in France, was Sailing World Magazine's one-design boat of the year in 2008. It's 18 feet nine inches (5.7 meters) long with two rudders, a spinnaker and retractable keel and is sailed by a crew of two or three---maximum combined weight 573 pounds.

'The boat is very conducive for sailors of all skill levels,' Kenney said. 'We have three or four women skippers just at Long Beach Race Week this year. Any one of us can be at the top of the fleet.'

Rivals are forewarned. Her boat, formerly Hat Trick, is now named Shenanigans.

'My Lido 14 was named Shenanigans,' she said with a chuckle. 'The name is special to me ... but I'm not planning on pulling any.'

Open 5.70s' start mixes with Catalina 37s' leeward gate rounding - Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week 2011

There will be three windward-leeward courses inside and outside the Long Beach Harbor breakwater, plus the popular Random Leg distance races with a fleet sailing one long haul each day. Racing will start at 1 p.m. Friday and at noon Saturday and Sunday, conditions permitting.

The post-race parties at ABYC Friday and across the inner Alamitos Bay at LBYC Saturday will start at 5 p.m., regardless of conditions. Free transportation between the clubs will be provided by the Big Red Bus.

As for the sailing, count on the vigorous southwest sea breeze to check in by race time (it's been ordered online) to support Ullman LBRW's slogan, 'Race With the Champions.'

They won't be hard to find. The face of the title sponsor, Dave Ullman himself, will be front and center to launch the weekend with his customary weather wisdom presentation Friday morning at 10 a.m. at LBYC.

Then the sailors are on their own. Almost every one of the classes will have a championship on the line---national, West Coast, Southern California, the galaxy. Based on past results, the hottest battles will be among one-designs.

In the J/105 and J/120 classes, respectively, Gary Mozer's Current Obsession2 from Beverly Hills and John Laun's Caper from San Diego will defend titles they fought to win on tiebreakers last year.

Also, John Demourkas of Santa Barbara, who won the Farr 40 East Coast championship with his Groovederci earlier this month, will join up with the J/105s on a boat of the same name.

The summer solstice is June 20, the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. Summer Sailstice is Saturday, June 23, a global holiday and the middle day of Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week, celebrating sailing held annually on the weekend closest to the summer solstice.

Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week is one of the many events participating in Summer Sailstice in all 50 U.S. states and more than 40 countries connected in a global celebration of sailing. It's free.

This year LBRW also is associated with the Sailors for the Sea program for Clean Regattas. Sailors for the Sea, based in Newport, R.I., is the only ocean conservation nonprofit focused on the sailing and boating community. Its program assists and certifies yacht clubs and regatta organizers as providing clean events that minimize impacts upon our oceans.

Long Beach Race Week website