I trekked out to Long Beach for the second straight year for SCYA Midwinters.  Does two years make a habit?  Maybe, and as SCYA Midwinters shows, not all habits are bad.  The forecast was “terrible”, so naturally that meant Santa Ana winds in the morning caused brief Race Committee panic, and a nervous Timbo wondering whether there’d be any sailing at all.  I thought Southern California people were supposed to be relaxed?  The seabreeze filled, though “only” to 10-12 knots in the afternoon.  The sea lions were angry and the winds were shifty, and the temperature was “too warm” in the mid 70s.  Did that stop anyone from serving hot chili after racing?  No. Did we “only” manage four races?  Yes.  #CaliforniaSailingProblems.

The SCYA Midwinters is a funny event — despite the reputation of Southern California as a year-round sailing destination, the reality is of course that some times of year are better than others, and the period between late November and early February is the less desirable time.  Of course, that does mean that eight to nine months out of the year these guys have excellent sailing conditions at a beautiful venue, but in any event, SCYA Midwinters is the unofficial “start” of the year’s sailing season, with hundreds of boats racing at dozens of clubs.  Alamitos Bay YC, home to the Viper 640 fleet, also hosts the F18s, A-Cats, International 14s, 505s, Finns, Lasers, Cal 20s, Lido 14s, and

Coronado 15s — it’s not quite the HPDO of the west coast, but the variety of the fleet and the interfleet mixing on the course is a bit familiar.   Less familiar are the sea lions barking at you from tanker moorings, the palm trees with snow capped peaks at Big Bear Mountain (visible on Saturday with no haze, and with Catalina Island clear as day 180 degrees in the other direction), and of course, the lengthy expanse of beach that gives the city its name.


Photo courtesy Rich Roberts: A Cats, Finns and Vipers, oh my!

Sunday’s conditions started off from the east, with gusts into the high teens, an unusual direction that most knew would never last, and because this is Southern California, it didn’t.  Eventually a lighter SE wind filled to allow for three more races to round out the series.  As for the results, Jim “Jimbo” Sears pulled the double-double, winning both the regatta and the party on Saturday night.  In the words of local sailing journalist Rich Roberts:

Once upon recent times the local sailing community was warned that ‘the Vipers are coming,’ and now it’s fair to say they’ve arrived.  Jim Sears is sold, even more so after winning the eight-boat Viper 640 class by a single point over class newcomer Kevin Taugher in Alamitos Bay Yacht Club’s share of the 84th Southern California Yachting Association Midwinter Regatta Saturday and Sunday.  ‘It was fun,’ said Sears, 46, an Emmy-nominated co-host of the award-winning talk show ‘The Doctors’ who bought his boat only two years ago and recently joined ABYC to compete in the class. ‘That’s why I joined,’ Sears said. ‘This weekend there were several guys that had just gotten boats, but it was real tight racing.’  The Viper 640 website pitches that ‘at 21 feet long and only 748 pounds, the Viper 640 combines the stiffness of a keelboat with the acceleration and planning abilities of a dinghy.’  Taugher won the last two races, but Sears held onto second each time to net 11 points. Taugher, with three firsts to Sears’ two, would have won a tiebreaker.  ‘It was fun,’ Sears said.  Asked if his TV career interfered with his racing, crew Rachel Ellis interjected, ‘It may be the other way around.’ [Photo of Jimbo and team from Sunday above, courtesy Rich Roberts]

Roberts hit the nail on the head — the racing was reasonably close on courses that averaged 30 minutes in length, with a few leeward mark roundings on Sunday that had the entire fleet arrive simultaneously.  Jimbo and team found ways of turning lemons into lemonade all weekend, but might have lost the title if the Taugher team had been able to keep all crewmembers in the boat on Saturday, causing an unexpected DNF.  As for me, I just like the chance to spend the holiday weekend with old and new friends.  The competition in SoCal will only get hotter as the summer progressed, with local aces from a variety of fleets, Jay Golison and Steve Flam, teaming up on a new boat, the rest of the King Harbor YC new Vipers arriving to make the SoCal fleet nearly 20 strong, and a large group expected at San Diego NOODs and Long Beach Race Week.

(editor addition/correction from Timbo to Peter )

Nice write up Peter……  “sea lions”  not seals..    We are sort of between the seals…..there are elephant seals near Santa Barbara that are popular with the white sharks, and US Goverment SEALS in San Diego that are un-popular with Al Queda… real harbor seals are not in huge populations, but around..   we just had a mega pod of bottlenose dolphin go by..  7 miles long by 5 miles wide!!!!!  headed north to watch the cup.

Come back soon!!    Want me to find a ride for LBRW??



Rk. # Skipper Crew Club 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Tot Net
1st 148 James Sears Rachel Ellis Alamitos Bay YC 2 1 3 1 (4) 2 2 15 11
2nd 1148 Kevin Taugher Chuck Tripp Alamitos Bay YC 1 3 (DNF) 4 2 1 1 21 12
3rd 64 Tom Hudson Sean Plomteau Anacapa YC 4 2 4 2 1 (5) 3 21 16
4th 187 Timothy Carter S. Bloemeke/B.  Johnson Alamitos Bay YC 3 4 1 (5) 5 3 5 26 21
5th 34 Glenn VanHeel N. Brownett/P. Beardsley Alamitos Bay YC 5 (6) 5 3 6 4 4 33 27
6th 173 Glenn Griley Kindred Spirit King Harbor YC (6) 5 2 6 3 6 6 34 28
7th 149 Larry Scarbrough Mark Stewart King Harbor YC 7 (8) 6 7 8 8 8 52 44
8th 133 Dale Bull Jason Brooks Mission Bay YC 8 7 (DNF) 8 7 7 7 53 44