June 09th, 2022
ABYC Memorial Day Regatta 2022
Wētās have raced in the Memorial Day Regatta at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach in the past and we attempted to get a fleet again for this year. Alas, only Bruce Fleming and Bob Shirley registered and so, Wētās were put into the Portsmouth fleet. That is the bad news. The good news is that no other boats registered in the Portsmouth fleet, so the RC magnanimously gave the Wētās an OD start despite only having two boats.
Bob arrived from Ventura and assembled his boat on Friday and took a local friend of his out for a sail. The high winds and flat seas behind the federal breakwater made for fantastic sailing. The two old men felt like reckless teenagers as they sped around Long Beach Harbor. It turned out to be the best sailing of the weekend.
Bruce arrived early Saturday morning after driving up from Sandy Eggo county and frenetically assembled his boat in time to sail out to the 12:00 p.m. start of the first of four races. It was a typical SoCal May Gray day with the wind about 8 - 10 knots from the southwest occasionally puffing up to 12. Enough to move along nicely but not enough to allow the Wētās to frolic. Bruce properly trounced Bob, taking bullets in all 4 races. Ever the gentleman, he even waited for Bob to catch up a few times instead of sailing over the horizon. It seems that Bruce was much faster than Bob upwind. Even though Bob was able to match Bruce’s speed downwind, it was too little, too late.
Some of the wind models predicted much stronger winds for Sunday. There were gale warnings for the outside waters and small craft advisories for the coastal waters. Bruce and Bob excitedly anticipated getting to have some exciting sailing on Sunday. And, indeed, the morning was sunny and the wind started filling in early. But, when the first of three races started at noon, the wind was still in the 8-10 knot range, and there it stayed for the rest of the afternoon. SoCal’s jealous nemesis, Catalina Eddy, just wouldn’t let his girlfriend, Onshore Flo, come in and satisfy the racers.
Bob seem to have gained a little bit of speed and, combined with Bruce’s good natured sandbagging, was able to win 2 of the 3 races on Sunday. But, overall, it was clear that Bruce was much faster and easily won the regatta.
ABYC is a wonderful venue for Wētās. Typically, Long Beach has strong westerlies (like on Friday) and flat water behind the federal breakwater which is over a mile offshore. ABYC has great facilities including two hoists, a launch ramp, and a soft beach, all of which are perfect for racing Wētās. West Coasters really need to make an effort to get there for the Memorial Day Regatta next year. Or, maybe even the Labor Day Regatta this year. The fact that they gave us a start with only two boats indicates that we will always have a fleet in the future if we want one.
By Bob Shirley
Photos Bruce Fleming