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Top honors to Staghound and J/105 Perseverance

LONG BEACH, Calif.—Boat for boat one-design or racing PHRF by the clock, winning can be equally satisfying, as Bennett Greenwald and Alec Oberschmidt of San Diego can tell you after Acura’s presentation of Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week, co-hosted by the Long Beach and Alamitos Bay Yacht Clubs.

Greenwald, who joined the J/105 class with Perseverance just this past year, fought off the regatta’s largest fleet of 15 boats by winning five of seven races —including the last four in a row over Saturday and Sunday—for his first victory and a bonus award as the regatta’s Boat of the Week for winning the most competitive class.

As for Oberschmidt, his Staghound, a Reichel/Pugh 50, is seldom first to finish but he often walks away with the flashiest trophies, as he did again Sunday by coming from behind to trump some bigger and faster boats in the premier Fast 50 class on handicap time, plus claim PHRF Boat of the Week honors and first place in the four-event Ullman Sails Inshore Championship for 2007.

Staghound’s tactician, Artie Means, noted that one of their adversaries, Roger Sturgeon’s new Rosebud, “is a rocket ship,” and that “it’s hard to call it a race with five minutes an hour in time difference between boats. But in both races today we sailed a great first leg and were right with ‘em at the windward mark.”

From there, Rosebud and its near-peers like Mike Campbell and Dale Williams’ powerful Peligroso could only look over their shoulders and count the time.

Greenwald’s task was more straightforward: to defend a lead of one point lead over Alex Rasmussen’s Free Enterprise and two points over Jeff Janos’s Invisible through the last two races Sunday.

“All we were trying to do was come off the line with a little speed,” Greenwald said. “In the first race we found the left [side of the course] was better, and in the second the sun came out so we played the shifts.”

The wind started at 4-5 knots under a marine layer and built to 9-10 by the end of racing in mid-afternoon—not up to par for Long Beach but better than the first two days.

“It’s not often light and lumpy here,” Greenwald said. “But it was a good challenge and a great regatta. And today I got yelled at less by my crew than yesterday.”

Rosebud was still in shakedown mode but, after missing the first day, its overall wins in the regatta’s last five races even after giving away heavy chunks of handicap time established it as a threat in the Transpacific Yacht Race next month.

There were 131 boats in 17 classes competing on three race courses—two outside and one inside the breakwater. With all those starts—some quite aggressive–there were no general recalls.

Other notable winners included Dirk Freeland’s Skian Dhu with four wins and no finish worse than third among seven Farr 40s; Gary Mozer’s Current Obsession in a tight J/109 battle settled by a tiebreaker over Tony Wetherbee’s Commotion, and John Paquin’s domination of the new Flying Tiger 10 class with five first and two seconds.

Freeland was a happy but low-key winner.

“I sail with my friends, but a couple of them happen to be pretty good sailors,” he said.

Two others are Freeland’s wife Jill and tactician Jeff Grange’s wife Caroline.

“We’re just a bunch of family guys,” Freeland said, adding that he has no ambition to race in the Farr 40 Worlds in Europe this year. “This is my worlds.”

Mozer’s team had to win the last race and put a boat between his and Commotion.

“We passed him on the downwind leg and at the second leeward gate we put [John Schulze's] Linstar between us,” Mozer said. “We finished a boat length ahead of Linstar and a couple in front of Commotion.”

Paquin had the new eight-boat Flying Tiger fleet under control from the outset with four consecutive wins and is optimistic about the future of the class, whose boats are built in China.

“It’ll be around for awhile,” he said. “It’s a fast boat, it planes and it’s easy to sail.”

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