The smiles outshone the hazy California sunshine today, as friends from the West Coast and beyond reconnected at Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week (LBRW).

The docks were abuzz with handshakes and hugs, and the joyful sounds of friends reuniting, at the opener of this popular three-day regatta, which is hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club (ABYC) and Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC).

“We are all ‘frenemies,’” explained Lesley MacDonald, as she compared notes with Susan Miller-Dijkman: “friends on land, and rivals on the water,” – to which Miller-Dijkman added, “Very competitive rivals!”

Commodores of the host clubs were among the many competing frenemies. “We have been sailing together, and against each other, about 20 years,” said John Fleishman, LBYC commodore, who is racing in the Catalina 37 fleet against ABYC commodore Chuck Clay, and eight other boats.

“We’re having fun with it!” Clay exclaimed.

The fun and friendship factor of the regatta has made it a perennial favorite among sailors nationwide: and legendary for meetups and hook-ups. Regatta Co-chair Jennifer Kuritz met her husband Steve at LBRW; they’ve been married 17 years. Charles Goggin and Anne Eggers met at LBRW in 2009; he proposed the following year. In fact the event is so notorious, it caught the eye of US SAILING ‘The Beat’ producer/host Katy Nastro.

“The Beat highlights the sport of sailing in a fun, approachable way,” said Nastro. “We heard LBRW was a great regatta where a lot of people come from all over and have a long history; people who have been racing against each other forever, or haven’t seen each other each other in 20 years, and reconnect. It’s an aspect of sailing we don’t touch upon enough: how sailors form these lifelong bonds and friendships.”

She added, “I love all the different classes of boats here, and that the boats are mixed gender. The weather has been great and there’s wind!”

But the handshakes weren’t the only action of the day. Winds were in the low to mid-teens, with choppy seas on the outside courses, providing optimal conditions for spirited racing.

Dave Hood took an early lead in the Catalina 37 fleet with two bullets, as did the J/109 Electra; J/80 Avet; J/120 Caper; Viper 640 Hot Mess; and Rival, in the PHRF 3 fleet. So did Code Blue, in the resurging Schock 35 class – which has not competed in LBRW since 2010. Random leg sailors completed one race; the large J/70 fleet pulled off two races, after a drifting mark caused a race to be abandoned. Bruce Golison’s Midlife Crisis sits at the top of that fleet.

Racing continues Saturday and Sunday, June 27 and 28, on courses off Long Beach, Calif. among the 128 competitors from the US, Canada and Mexico. Festivities continue as well, with the Mt Gay Rum Party Saturday 5-9PM and Sunday’s prize-giving, post-racing; both at LBYC.

For more: http://www.lbrw.org/home