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Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race - Two duel for honors

by Rich Roberts on 29 Apr 2012
Medicine Man’s crew celebrates Maxi class win on corrected handicap time. Newport-Ensenada Yacht Race Rich Roberts © http://www.UnderTheSunPhotos.com

The first two boats to finish the Lexus Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race Saturday did so by---say what?---using their engines.

It was legal because Tom Madden's Stella Maris and Jim Updike's Quiver competed in the Cruising classes, which allow limited motoring when the wind doesn't blow, as it hadn't for the first part of the Newport Ocean Sailing Association's 65th annual chase from Newport Beach.


But Tom Holthus' Bad Pak and Bob Lane's Medicine Man won honors the old-fashioned way while competing in the Maxi class---Bad Pak as the first finisher that sailed all the way and Medicine Man with the Maxis' best corrected handicap time.

Bad Pak, an STP 65, owed its Andrews 63 rival 42 seconds a mile for the 125-nautical mile race, but as they labored to the line in breathless breeze of 1 to 2 knots Medicine Man finished only 12 minutes and 6 seconds behind to outscore the big black boat by an hour and 15 minutes.

Holthus said, 'We knew they'd kill us on corrected time but we're proud of what we did.'

For a few hours Saturday it appeared that Lane might win the new title sponsor's prize of a two-year lease on a 2013 Lexus GS 350 for the best corrected handicap time by a non-cruiser.

But before long, as the breeze picked up, David Lawson's Beneteau 373, Endeavor, slipped in with a corrected time about 10 minutes better of 19:50:02---although that time wasn't guaranteed to hold up, either, until the finishing deadline falls at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Bad Pak made a strong comeback from an awful start Friday when another Maxi rival, Taxi Dancer, forced it off the starting line behind the pin-end committee boat as Medicine Man built an early lead. 'This is a new boat for me,' Holthus said. 'I sailed J/145s with the same name the last two years.' He plans to do the next Transpacific Yacht Race in 2013. Lane said, 'It was a good race with Bad Pak. We were hoping we would finish around midnight.' As the two boats ventured 35 miles offshore into wind as strong as 11 knots, it became a boat-for-boat, lead-swapping battle that lasted until the end. But then, Holthus said, 'It cut off completely 45 miles out.'

Finally, Bad Pak---an acronym formed by the first initials of Holthus' children---found its way across through a dissolving fog at about 7:48 a.m., nearly 12 minutes ahead of Med Man creeping in from the opposite side. The time of day was critical to the Cruisers, who in a reverse of the starting program were started an hour ahead of the other classes, although they would still lose the option of firing up their engines after 8 a.m.

As it was, Madden's 46-foot Stella Maris from Newport Beach finished at 6:43:44 a.m., leading Quiver and a few other Cruisers that also beat the deadline. '

The best wind we saw was about 10 knots south of Dana Point,' Madden said, 'and about 30 miles off the northern tip of the Coronado Islands it shut down to 2 to 3 knots.' It was Madden's third race in a Cruising class and 'the first time I ever used my engine,' he said. 'But when our VMG (velocity-made-good calculation) dipped to 1.2 it was below our break-even point for not motoring.'

In other words, a time penalty would hurt less than struggling to sail.

At mid-day Saturday it was not clear how many of the starters had dropped out in dying winds, but at least one seemed to pick a better option. Dana Coelhy, sailing his Peterson 37, Gunslinger, from American Legion YC, radioed in late Friday that he was heading for Avalon on Santa Catalina Island.

Needless to say, the monohull elapsed time record of 10 hours 37 minutes 50 seconds by Doug Baker's Magnitude 80 in 2009 and the virtually untouchable multihull record of 6 hours 46 minutes 40 seconds set by the late Steve Fossett on the 60-foot Stars & Stripes catamaran in 1998 were safe for another year.

First boats to finish
Non-cruising 1. Bad Pak (Maxi/STP 65), Tom Holthus, San Diego YC, 19 hours 48 minutes 19 seconds.
2. Medicine Man (Maxi/Andrews 63), Bob Lane, Long Beach YC, 20:00:25.
3. Afterburner (ORCA/52 multihull), Bill Gibbs, Pierpont Bay YC, 21:19:15.

Cruising 1.
Stella Maris (CRUZ-GA; Hylas46), Tom Madden, Bahia Corinthian YC, 19:33:44.
2. Quiver (CRUZ-SA; Beneteau 46), Jim Updike, South Shore YC, 19:47:58.
3. Macchalis (CRUZ-GB; Beneteau 400), Kevin Spainhour, South Bay YRC, 20:17:40.
4. Parc Place (CRUZ-SA; Hunter 49), Michael Kidd, South Bay YRC, 21:22:38.

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