For Mel Richley, a regular in the Beer Cans for the past 23 years, family and friends are what the series is all about. Last summer, Richley counted 42 friends aboard his 48-foot boat Amante one evening. "Now we put a limit of 30 on the number of people we allow aboard," says Richley, who races with his wife, Rickie.
Richley, a winning sailor who takes most races quite seriously, says: "These races are just for fun. If we were racing seriously, we'd have a crew of 10 people on board--not 30."
All the evening races are operated under the Sundown Rule, which requires the first boat of the fleet to cross the finish line before sundown. "It's a safety factor," says Gronbach, "so that you don't have boats out there after dark."
Races usually begin around 6 or 6:30 p.m., and most boats take about an hour and a half to complete the course. "When daylight-saving time ends, it is always extremely disappointing," Gronbach says, "because we have to stop racing. I enjoy the races so much I wish we had daylight-saving time all year round. For me, it is a natural high."