Appearing in Latitude 38, November 2021
After a one-year hiatus, Nationals one design action returns to the Express 37 fleet. Held October 1 to 3, and hosted by the Berkeley Yacht Club, the competition attracted seven crews for three days of buoy racing, plus a long course Saturday afternoon. Eclipse (PacCup), Elan (SSS), Limitless (PacCup), Mudshark (PresYC), pHatJack (SBYC), Spindrift V (RYC) and Stewball (BYC) traversed the course in sunny day, light wind and generally smooth water.
Extending his winning streak post-Rolex Big Boat Series is Shawn Ivie on Limitless. Nearly perfect at 1-1-1-2-1-1, Ivie says that Andy Schwenk (Spindrift V) and Jack Peurach (Elan) kept him focused throughout the competition. “They remind you not to make a mistake, or you’ll easily trade positions at the finish line.”
Ivie’s crew is a mix of sailors and friends with whom he has sailed with, and against, on various boats and events over the years. The San Francisco Bay team is accented by local talent Angie Liebert, Will Paxton as tactician, and others. This is Ivie’s fifth Nationals, and fourth to race Limitless. His first year at the event was 2015, crewing aboard both Mudshark and Bullet. “The competition is, and has always been, some the best one design racing I’ve experienced. The fleet is evolving with new owners up north, like Andy Schwenk, and in other regions there is Liz Hopkins on Pazuzu, plus more.”
Taking a second overall was Schwenk, with 3-2-4-1-2-3. Things livened up for race 4 Saturday with boats ignoring the 1980s disco rule: “No parking on the dance floor.” A cluster east of the start had some turning to sidewise tactics in light wind. Bucking that tide was Schwenk, swinging wide his boat dance partners to skirt the mash up. Could be that his contrarian moves put him in the right frame of mind, carrying that winning way to a first over the line.
Also doing the dance hustle was Jack Peurach of Elan, capped by a shirtless foredeck, Hicham Mejjaty. Veteran of Express 37 racing since 2011, Peurach offered, “Our crew work got better and better as the regatta went on. Going into the final two races, only 5-points separated third place from seventh place. I think our precision spinnaker sets and takedowns made the difference for us on Sunday, as we were able to get ourselves into third spot.” Team Elan rallied to a 6-8-2-3-3-2.
Notably absent from the waltz weekend was longtime racer Kame Richards of Golden Moon. His boat up for sale at present, Richards instead attracted racer attention at the Saturday dinner table--recounting an elegant history of e37 Nationals over the years. Those in the room are now privy to the fleet’s alternate prize, initiated in YEAR. Crafted of cardboard and featuring duct tape accordion-fold reveal name plates, each year’s winning skipper has been memorialized here in felt-tip marker or BIC pen. To crown things, the award is accented by the people’s timepiece--a busted Timex watch.
Schwenk gives props to the host site, “Berkeley Yacht Club volunteers and staff put on a first class regatta. Great courses, square lines, and getting the races off on schedule. Delicious Paella, continental breakfast, free moorage, plenty of parking--we’re coming back for their midwinter sailing.” Adds Peurach, “The fleet attracts some really strong sailors, so competition is fierce but has a great community. The Nationals at BYC is a highlight of the season, and for the last few years we've been fortunate to have boats travel all the way from So. Cal. for this regatta.”
The Express 37 was designed by Carl Schumacher. He commissioned builder Terry Alsberg, who was already producing the popular Express 27. From 1984 to 1988, The Alsberg Brothers Boatworks in Santa Cruz, California, pumped out a total 65 vessels. No longer in production, the Express 37 model finished first, second and third while debuting during the 1985 Transpacific Yacht Race.