Bella Donna

Stands at the U.S. Open Golf Tournament can be seen from the Bella Donna in Stillwater Cove.

I’m convinced sailors are connected by no more than three degrees of separation.

Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other. But sailors are more closely connected.

Last weekend I continued to prove my three-degree theory while attending the U.S. Open Golf Tournament in Pebble Beach.

The golf tournament is played overlooking Monterey’s Stillwater Cove. The seaweed laden cove is a “bucket list” destination. According to Stillwater Cove Yacht Club history, it was a favorite anchorage for Howard Hughes’s yacht Southern Cross back in 1928. Ginger Rogers sailed a dinghy in the cove, and Liz Taylor and Nicky Hilton enjoyed the view. The Club’s staff commodore Richard Outten grew up in Long Beach and learned to sail in Alamitos Bay.

During the U.S. Open, a beautiful blue hulled aluminum 70-foot catamaran seems to photo bomb images of the greatest golfers. Turns out, the vessel’s captain, South African John Smit, met Long Beach catamaran owner Barbara Hounsell in Mexico recently. The beautiful French-built yacht with a full fly bridge, Bella Donna, is understated elegance. The Reno, Nev.-based owners made their money in software design and cruise aboard about 10 weeks a year. The mooring was a choice viewing spot for the 119th Open.

But wait — there is yet another Long Beach connection. Remember world-champion women’s surfer Jericho Poppler-Bartlow’s daughter Raquel "Rocky" Dakota and her season on Bravo TV’s "Below Deck?" Well, one of the charter guests that season was the son of Bella Donna’s owners.

Long Beach Race Week

There will be no better place to test my three degrees of separation theory than this weekend’s Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week.

Hands down this is the wildest regatta on the West Coast. Hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club and Long Beach Yacht Club, LBRW is the favorite regatta for sailors who want to race all day and party all night.

More than 100 teams have entered the June 21 to 23 event, which draws sailors from Arizona to Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Starting at 12:55 p.m. Friday, June 21, competitors will vie in a series of seven windward/leeward or three random leg races, in both one-design and PHRF fleets. Racing continues Saturday and Sunday, June 22 and 23, beginning at 11:55 a.m.

Sailing for championship trophies are the Schock 35 fleet (6 entries) and Catalina 37s (all 11 boats have been chartered), Farr 40 (7 entries), TP52 (6 entries) and J/70 (18 entries) classes, while a Viper 640 fleet (21 entries) takes advantage of Ullman Sails LBRW to tune-up their skills in advance of their August World Championships.

Prizes a-plenty are the name of the game at Ullman Sails LBRW. Boat of the Day and daily awards are presented to Friday and Saturday winners in each established fleet, in addition to overall series awards.

For the highest placing boat sailed by at least three immediate family members, there’s the Kent Golison Family Trophy; while the Travel Trophy is given to the boat owner traveling the furthest to compete. The Satariano Boat of the Week award recognizes the one-design class winner of the tightest, most competitive division; and the PHRF Boat of the Week prize goes to the same, in their category.

Plus, a battle for honors in the Yacht Club Challenge is sure to ensue: awarded to the club whose team has the lowest combined score in Catalina 37 and two other divisions.

LBRW is also renowned for exceptional nightlife. Parties hosted from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday at ABYC and at LBYC from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday include music and entertainment, food, drinks and cash bar. Sunday’s post-race festivities and prize-giving begin at 4 p.m.  at LBYC.

From the free gourmet coffee at the U.S. Sailing-sponsored Buzz Bar in the mornings, to special charter deals from The Moorings, to yacht club capers in the evening, and last call on Second Street: Ullmans Sails LBRW is the favorite regatta of sailboat racers for four decades.

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