Seven races, seven wins. One gold medal. Those were the results of Cal State Long Beach’s (CSULB) sailing team’s efforts when it recently competed at the first-ever Pan-Pacific University Sailing Championship in Xiamen, China. It was CSULB’s first-ever international regatta.
“We did win every race, but I would say the top five teams were all pretty competitive,” said CSULB sailing team president Shane Young, a senior business marketing major from Long Beach who headed up the contingent of five. “I’m proud of the guys and I’m glad we took who we took, but as a team we still have room for improvement. There were a lot of areas where our team could have been stronger, like teamwork on the boat and communication and things like problem-solving, but overall I felt we did extremely well.”
Other members of CSULB’s five-person team who competed in the championship event were Mark Ryan, a junior history major from Long Beach; John Hill, a junior economics major from Burlington, Vt.; Nicholas Santos, a junior business finance major from Lomita; and Tyler Webb, a junior electrical engineering major from Los Angeles. The sailing club is under the umbrella of CSULB’s Club Sports and Recreation program.
Competing against 13 teams from China, Taiwan and Singapore over the course of three days, CSULB finished first in all seven races. The first day of competition was spent in a distance race, which was approximately 12 miles up the coast and took nearly five hours. The final six races, three each on the last two days on the same two-mile course, had only the angle of the race change depending on the wind conditions.
“When we showed up, we didn’t know the pattern of the venue at all and even the local competitors struggled with that,” said Young, whose team as well as all others competed on the larger J/80, a fixed keel one-design sportsboat certified for offshore sailing and normally crewed by three to five people. “There was like a 4-knot current every day and the winds were extremely shifty because we were still experiencing the tail-end of a typhoon that had just gone through. So you had to figure how that was going to affect your overall strategy.
“We really had to watch for new pressure coming and watch the water. As soon as that new pressure hits, you kind of have to try and anticipate if you’re going to be lifted or headed,” he continued. “So there were a lot of factors to consider, especially since we were new to the venue. Even for the local teams, it was much different sailing conditions than they were used to.”
Just arriving in China was a bit challenging for the team from Long Beach as the pilot had to land in nearly typhoon conditions.
“The first day when we flew in, we had a wild landing because we had to do so in very windy conditions, but the pilot did a good job,” said Young. “And it was pouring rain from the airport to our hotel and in one of the rooms water was coming out of the light socket and dripping down the walls. None of us had ever seen anything like that before.”
Two days later, they were in a sailing competition, faced with dealing with some of the after effects of the typhoon.
“The air and the water were shifting,” said Young. “The typhoon made a big difference on the air and then the water had tidal swells, so we had to get used to what time high and low tide were and figure out which was across the course the current was going to pull our boat, but I think we handled it well.”
And while the competition and trip were great experiences in themselves, there is a bigger picture involved when it comes to bringing the two nations together in the future.
“We’re working on trying to make something happen,” said Mary Barton, president of the Long Beach-Qingdao Association, who was responsible for arranging the trip for the CSULB team. “It’s complicated, but were planning as a sister city group to do more in this arena and we are working with the U.S.-China Yachting Association to make more things like this happen and perhaps bring Chinese sailors here to the United States. There are plans for bigger and better things in the future.”
“Hopefully this will turn out to be an annual thing,” said Young, “and we can get other colleges from SoCal or from around the country who want to do it. This could really become more of an international regatta. I’m very glad we did this for the experience and I think it also helped us grow as sailors. We all had a good experience, but nine days was a fair amount of time in China for us and I think we all got a little homesick.”
For additional information about the CSULB Sailing Team, e-mail the team captain at firstname.lastname@example.org.