In sailboat racing good breeze is a good thing. But too much is not so good. Such was the case this Sunday in the California Dreamin' Series Butler Cup, an ISAF Grade 3 match race hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club.
With a severe storm watch in effect and high winds, no races were able to be run. Leading the series points coming into this weekend was Nicole Breault of St. Francis Yacht Club and, as such, Breault was declared the winner of the series. The first place prize is an invitation to race in next week's Ficker Cup, 22-24 March, which she gratefully accepted.
Coming from the San Francisco area, Breault is quite experienced in racing in strong breeze. "This definitely was a brisk day,"
Breault said, "and would have shown who had the best seamanship skills. But I think it was a good decision [not to race] for these boats."
Saturday's racing was literally blown out with sustained winds around 20 knots, keeping the fleet in their slips throughout the day. Sunday dawned with strong winds but Principal Race Officer Pete Ives wanted the race committee to give it their best shot at getting some races off and had everyone head out to the race course. Unfortunately the wind was much stronger Sunday than the day before.
"It's a shame that we couldn't do this today,"
Ives said. "But I was seeing 22 to 25 knots out there and gusts over 30."
If you're a sailor, you may ask, "I've raced in worse conditions, what's the big deal?"
The Catalina 37s used in the Butler Cup, Ficker Cup and the Congressional Cup were designed for the normal Long Beach weather conditions; moderate chop and breeze of 8-15 knots and get to be quite a handful at 20 knots without the ability to reef the mainsail.
Commenting on the upcoming Ficker Cup, Breault said, "I think my expectations for how well I will do came up a bit this weekend. What time we had on the boats was valuable [Friday's practice and Sunday's attempted racing]. Also, I will have Bill Durant [LBYC] calling tactics for me which will be a tremendous advantage for us. We know any one skipper can win in a match race."
The first two weekends of the series took place at San Diego Yacht Club, Feb. 11-12, and St. Francis Yacht Club, March 3-4. In addition to Breault, skippers competing in the series were; Dan Aeling, SDYC; Eric Doyle, NHYC; Nick Dugdale , St. FYC; Bill Durant, LBYC; Dusting Durant, LBYC; Steve Lowery, CMRC; Tyler Sinks, SDYC, Bruce Stone, St. FYC and David Storrs, Pequot YC.
The event is named for Frank Butler, founder of Catalina Yachts, who in 1990 designed, built and donated the 11 Catalina 37s used for all of the match races held at LBYC. These same boats are also used for fleet race events and are available for team building and individual charters through the Long Beach Sailing Foundation.