All Roads lead to Long Beach

Interview with Phillip Infelise
By Andrew Kerr


AK: Tell u a little about the Long Beach venue for the upcoming Nationals. 

Just like you Andrew, I have sailed in many of the more popular venues around the World (and some not so popular like the Accra, Ghana to Lome, Togo Race, an African version of the Ensenada Race) and I still believe that Long Beach offers the most consistent conditions I can imagine. I can’t think of an overall better venue for our 2004 Nationals The combination of having a host like Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, flat water and good breeze, a major Tune-up Regatta on the same site in late June.... it should all lead up to a fantastic Nationals. We already know that boats will be coming from 3 Countries, and at least 9 States. 40 Boats is not out of the question. A short distance from the Club to the Race Course will maximize both on and off the water activities. We have been pointing toward this Venue for Nationals for five years and I can’t wait to welcome everyone! 



AK: You have grown up and sailed in Long Beach your whole life – tell us about the conditions that we can expect for both Golison/North Sails Race week (June 26th/ 27th) and the Nationals.

Wait, don’t accuse me of having grown up quite yet, though AARP is hot on my trail. Summer time in Long Beach typically leads to very predictable conditions, unless there are intervening weather patterns that we can’t for see this far out. 

Late June conditions will be ideal and very consistent and that’s why Bruce runs his Regatta at this time – usually 8-12 knots for Race One, 12-14 for Race Two and then 14-17 for Race Three, depending on how late in the day racing runs. For the Class Nationals in August, there will usually be a little more funkiness to the First Race conditions, perhaps a slight delay as the Southeasterly transitions to the Westerly as the land heats up. Races Two and Three each day should be in ideal LB conditions at 12-14 knots and sometimes more. Obviously, the “Inside-the-Breakwater” commitment means flat water so that the “Lake Sailors” should compete on even basis with the “Ocean Sailors” and in the first one or two races of the day everyone may think they are back at Huntington Lake. More wind in Race Three will remind you that you are in Long Beach and might even tempt some Blades out. To get a flavor for those Race Three conditions, come out a few days early and we can get a start in the Long Beach Yacht Club Wed Night Races. And the practice Races on Thursday afternoon.




AK: Any advice for first time participants in the Nationals and also first timers to the Long Beach area. 

Don’t miss it! Perfect weather and wind. All that SoCal has to offer nearby in a small town atmosphere of Belmont Shore and the “Peninsula.” No where but Nationals can a Class member get more racing in such a short period, have the chance to get every speed and rigging hint possible from the Class experts, meet and greet sailors from all over the country and just flat out have a great time. We are trying to smooth the way from everyone by arranging all the logistics for you – just tell us what you need. First timers will leave with great memories of both the venue and the Regatta itself.

AK: Tell us about what is planned for racing and on shore activities. 


Bruce and I are working closely with a crack team at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club to make this a first rate Regatta. We want it to be the best Nationals in anyone’s recent memory. Nicole Moffat at ABYC has every detail of the shore-side management well in hand. Mark Townsend will provide World Class Race Management so that course alignment and length will never be an issue. 

On Shore, we are making it a Prix Fixe Regatta to overcome the lack of camping facilities in this swanky end of Long Beach. Ample dinners are provided nightly with a special surprise on Friday the 13th and a real Luau atmosphere on Saturday, including live music. The Schedule of Events is posted, as is a Pre-Entry Survey so that you can tell us what you need to make this your best nationals experience ever. We hope that we can rustle up enough interest to break the 40 boat barrier!

AK : The wonder of local knowledge – how important will it be and what can an out of town do to get up to speed quickly with the conditions ? 

If we get the conditions that we expect, local knowledge will be of little help. Fair, flat water, very little shiftiness other than a persistent move from left to right throughout the day, current not an issue. Best advice is to come and play at the Golison/North Sails Regatta as it will be the absolute best Tune-Up Regatta for Nationals. Can’t help but benefit from 20 boats on the line on the same courses you will sail for Nationals. 



But you must Avoid the Cone! (Or the Funnel of Fickleness. Maybe the Shaft of Shiftiness. The Angle of Anquish). In other words, dispense of the old Long Beach creed of “Go Right to Win” and be willing to flirt with the left, particularly before the westerly is fully built in. But either right or left will work far better than Ping-Ponging up the middle as it will seem (and be true) that boats on both sides of you are picking up lifts while you are in forever sailing in headers. It has a lot to do with the middle opening in the Breakwater that deflects the breeze to either side and does a vacuum job on the middle. That means a premium will be on picking the correct part of the line, getting off clean and holding your lane while opening up your options to bang right or left. This will be a boat speed and fleet management regatta as it will not take more than a day or two of practice to figure out the shifts.

AK: Tell us about a couple of your favorite Long Beach sailing experiences. 

I’ve raced in Long Beach since the late 60s so that is a lot of ground to cover – there were so many Catalina Island Series memories, Wed Night Racing when it used to pull in hundreds of boats, the old Whitney Series Races when we fools used to even pound our way out to San Nicholas Island with 40 knots on the nose... and loved it! But here are my Top Four:

  Winning the Island Series IOR Fleet in a little CF-27. We planned it for years, knowing that races in both directions always started earlier in the day than the wind did. We sensed that a light air rocket could get a big enough lead to withstand the pounding when the breeze filled. So we asked Alan Andrews to optimize “Ribbet” to an IOR rating and we had at the Big Boys, in the days when there were a whole lot of them. We won every race on the returns from the Island since we could leave the Fleet behind us in the early morning zephyrs and then surf our way to the finish. Pissed off lots of people (hey, don’t we still do that?) and they then outlawed anything under 30 in IOR in LB, but we won in a romp.

In the same CF, we were heading up to LA for a Whitney Series race with a monster breeze blowing of the land. We hit planing speeds under main only by the time we passed ABYC and when we left the jetty and turned dead downwind with flat water and 30 knots of breeze, we just knew we had to see what would happen with a kite up. Exactly what you would think happened! Burst of speed like the boat has never seen for three minutes on a full plane......and then the Rig snapped. Quite a story ensued, but a thrill we will never forget. Walter still has the top 7’ of the rig in his house.

Sailing in the Congressional Cup with a very young (18), unknown Kiwi.... now world renown, Chris Dickson. And winning it.



Finally, in 1999, during the Golly Regatta with all of my best sailing buddies aboard crewing for me (Pete, Jeff, Walter, the famous Weeger Bros) and Payson doing bow, we smoked the Catalina 37 Match Racing Fleet to win the Nationals with Five straight bullets, showing our utter stupidity by port tacking the start in the last race with everything to lose and nothing to gain. No guts, no Glory!

AK : Many thanks Phillip, we are looking forward to a great time for the class in Long Beach.