Enduring a nearly 6,000-mile flight that landed in the middle of typhoon conditions, Cal State Long Beach’s sailing team went on to capture the gold medal at the inaugural Pan-Pacific University Sailing Championship in Xiamen, China, this summer.
In its first international regatta, CSULB won all seven races, competing against 13 teams from China, Taiwan and Singapore over three days.
“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 business marketing major who headed up the contingent of five teammates. “I’m proud of the guys. There were a lot of areas where our team could have been stronger, but overall I felt we did extremely well.”
Other CSULB team members were history major Mark Ryan; John Hill, an economics major; Nicholas Santos, a business finance major; and Tyler Webb, an electrical engineering major. The sailing club is under the umbrella of CSULB’s Club Sports and Recreation program.
The first day of competition was spent in a distance race of approximately 12 miles up the coast that took nearly five hours. The final six races, three each on the last two days on the same two-mile course, changed only the angle of the race 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. “The winds were extremely shifty because we were still experiencing the tail end of a typhoon that had just gone through. We had to figure how that was going to affect our overall strategy. Even for the local teams, it was much different sailing conditions than they were used to.”
And even though arranging competitions of this kind take long-term planning, future events are already being discussed.
“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 we’re 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 because I think it 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.”