by Rich Roberts
64th Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race provides the perfect mix of fun and adventure as racers decide whether to head off-shore for stronger winds or to sail the rhumb line towards the finish.
Lorenzo Berho at helm of Peligroso for start of 2010 race - Newport to Ensenada 2011
How important is the start of a 125.5-nautical mile sailboat race? For people watching Friday's 12 noon getaway of the 64th Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race from a vantage point, getting off the line first will seem a pretty big deal.
The faster boats especially will be fighting one another and the clock over every mile. Last year Lorenzo Berho's Peligroso was the first monohull to finish but just missed the biggest prize, the President of USA trophy awarded to the boat posting the best corrected handicap time in the race.
Instead, that went to the bright yellow Taxi Dancer, a Reichel/Pugh 68 owned by Dick Compton, Jim Yabsley and Tom Parker of Santa Barbara. Peligroso finished about 11 minutes ahead of Taxi Dancer, but Peligroso owed Taxi Dancer 81 1/2 minutes and thus lost overall by 70 minutes.
Dennis Conner's Stars and Stripes also posed a threat. Taxi Dancer owed time to the dark blue Farr 60 but corrected out by less than 12 minutes behind Peligroso.
Sailing Weather Service's forecast for Friday sponsored by North Sails and Southern Spars is for a west-northwesterly wind up to nine knots---virtually the rhumb (direct) line to Todos Santos Bay all along the entire Southern California and Baja California coasts. Stronger breeze is expected offshore, but a lighter patch of wind of three to six knots will separate the sea breeze near the coast from the gradient wind farther offshore.
Friday will see the week's high temperature of 77F. At the time of this report there were 175 entries in 13 classes measuring up to 70 feet.
Berho, a Mexico City businessman in his first N2E race, settled for partial satisfaction last year.
'We are the first boat from Mexico to finish first in the Maxi class,' he said.
He acquired the boat after its original owner, Mike Campbell of Long Beach, died in 2008. Campbell named it Peligroso ('dangerous' in Spanish) which suited its new owner fine. In 2010 Peligroso trailed only the big multihulls, where H.L. Enloe's front running Loe Real suffered a similar clockback to Bill Gibbs's smaller Afterburner by 26 minutes.
Gibbs, the president of the Ocean Racing Catamaran Association, said, 'Ensenada has been an interesting race for us. In 11 attempts we have broken three times and been first to finish three times. This time we weren't first to finish but we won.'
Non-sailors can check out for themselves how serious sailing can be by viewing the 10-minute sequences of starts from the Balboa Pier, the beach and the bluffs above Corona Del Mar State Beach that the racers will pass on their way south into a full moonlit night.
In the Maxi class, Peligroso, with a rating of minus-123 seconds per mile, and Taxi Dancer (-84) will again match up with Conner's Stars and Stripes (-63), Alex Oberschmidt's R/P 50, Staghound (-51); Los Trees Gordos LLC's It's OK (-57); Bob Lane's Andrews 63, Medicine Man (-99), and Per Petterson's Dencho 70, Alchemy (-84).
Taxi Dancer sets their chute in front of Staghound – LBRW day 3
In PHRF A class there also will be a competitive group of Farr 40s stretching out from their familiar around-the-buoys format to offshore racing, as they have often the last few years: David Voss's Piranha, Ray Godwin's Temptress, Dennis Rosene's Radical Departure and Zoltan Katinszky's White Knight.
'Hey, we've made the run to Cabo … twice,' Voss said. 'For a race boat it's a perfectly good overnight boat [with a] nice big central area down below.'
The 40s have agreed to race with masthead spinnakers rather than smaller fractional kites. They'll all rate minus-6.
'It's figuring to be a pretty quick race,' Voss said. 'Current modeling shows us getting in before sunrise [Saturday].'
The monohull elapsed time record for the race is 10 hours 37 minutes 50 seconds by Doug Baker's Magnitude 80 in 2009. The virtually untouchable multihull record is six hours 46 minutes 40 seconds by the late Steve Fossett on the 60-foot Stars and Stripes catamaran in 1998, the only boat ever to finish before sundown on the same day it started.
Cruising class boats may use their engines between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. during the race, but a vessel’s speed in knots may not exceed its hull speed while the engine is in gear propelling the boat.
No boats will be scored as finishing after 11:00 a.m. Sunday. The traditionally upbeat awards ceremony is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.
The race is sponsored by the City of Newport Beach, Pirates Lair, the Log, Mount Gay Rum, Vessel Assist, Sailing Spoken Here, West Marine, Marriott Newport Beach Hotel and Spa, Visit Newport Beach, Hornblower Cruises and Events, North Sails and Ruby's Diner.
Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race Website