The eighteenth annual Long Beach Race Week (LBRW) was held on June 23-25, 2023. This year over eighty boats participated in eleven divisions, including the Viper 640 class. The Viper locals welcomed long time Viperers Mike Hester and John Mayall from Arizona Yacht Club in #107 as well as new owner Cheyne Scoby from ABYC in #133. This event also served as the Pacific Coast Championships for the Viper 640.
Racing was held on two separate courses, with classes switching for each day. The inshore course offered smooth water behind the breakwater, while the offshore course was south of the breakwater in the open ocean. Viperers who sailed in the 2019 Worlds may remember vividly the big waves, wind and chop on the latter course.
The racing started on a sunny California Friday afternoon in perfect Long Beach conditions, with the wind building to 20+ knots by the end of the day. The Viper fleet enjoyed tight racing with Mike Shea, Gabe Ferramola and Greg Naiman in #301 scoring a 1-2, and Dan Milefchik, Steve Bloemeke and Melissa Kirby in #212 also scoring a 2-1 to end the day tied at first. Third place at the end of Friday belonged to Mike Hester with finishes of 3-4. Newcomers to the Viper were ecstatic at the downwind thrills in big breeze.
The racing on Saturday moved to the offshore course. The breeze was not as robust as Friday, eventually getting into the mid-teens. But the long rolling swell and waves gave the Vipers a chance to surf the one mile downwind legs. The first race was handily won by Jesse Oliver and Mike Oliver, sailing with Jorge Suarez as their third in #204. They seemed to hit every shift and finished nearly two minutes ahead of the next boat. The second and third races were won by Ed Feo in #287, who took the three prior races to figure out which way to aim the boat. At the end of the day Dan Milefchik stood in first, Ed Feo second, and Mike Shea third.
The final day of racing shifted to the inshore course and the breeze slowly built to twelve knots for the races (although eventually topped 20 later in the afternoon). While there was less wind, and more shifts, as well as other fleets to contend with, the racing remained tight in each of the two races, with finishes of the top four often occurring within seconds of each other. Ed Feo managed to pull out another couple of wins to take the regatta, followed by Mike Shea in second and Dan Milefchik in third.
At the post race festivities, we had the opportunity to meet potential new Viper owners. One sailing pro extolled the virtues of the Viper as “the fastest boat for the dollar spent” and a good place to learn to sail high performance craft. We agree. At Alamitos Bay we are continuing to build our fleet and have several boats available for interested potential new owners to sail. If you have any plans to be in our area and want to go sailing, get in touch!
LBRW will be on the calendar next year and we welcome all Vipers to join us. This is the same venue as the 2024 North Americans. For both regattas we can promise warm sunshine, steady breezes and with a little luck 18-20 knots from the west and big waves.