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J/Crews collect Newport to Ensenada Race silver!

by J/Boats 3 May 2019 03:49 PDT 26-28 April 2019
Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race © Event Media

Remarkably, the second major event of the Southern California offshore season also started off with a whimper. This year's Newport to Ensenada Race was not the "fast forward" downwind sleigh ride of year's past.

Instead, it started off quite light, especially overnight, but then as the fleet made their way down the coastline the onshore sea breezes and northerly flows kicked in for a sunny, breezy finish for most boats.

The legendary 125nm "wind sprint" that starts off the piers at Newport Beach, CA is a simple race course; after the start, just head south down the California/ Mexican coastline to a finish inside Toto Santos Bay, off the lovely Hotel Coral and Marina in Ensenada.

The 72nd annual edition of the race was perhaps most frustrating for the "maxi's and the fleet of ULDB 70s. However, for the mid-size boats in the 35 to 45 foot range, it all worked out quite well on handicap scoring; in particular, for many of the dozen J/Teams.

One of the leading navigators described this year's event: "the race was tricky as heck, but we just looked to sail the shortest possible course, going just outside the Coronado's for a bit, then jibed into shore and staying left. VMG all the way and just drive."

For many in the light winds race, finding VMG (Velocity Made Good) was the difference between winning or ending up experiencing VNDG (Velocity No Dang Good) instead.

Commenting on their second place finish on their second offshore outing on the brand new J/121 BLUE FLASH was owner Scott Grealish: "We knew we had a bad start. And, it's obvious we were slow the first hour. I think the combination of being short handed with two new guys affected us; so, we were not quick off the line, setting the zero, etc. Plus, we are still learning how to trim that setup. We improved and gained over the next few hours with no real condition changes.

In the end, we took second in class to the Andrews 40 by four minutes corrected. They beat us in the Cabo Race, too (first overall), so we respect their program.

Our eleven-boat class sailed in light 0-10.0 kts TWS and all Code Zero/ A1 spinnaker sailing conditions. We all finished within 2% on our elapsed times! Incredibly, a pretty well-sailed offshore fleet!

We sailed with four and found the water ballast very useful on the small zero at 8.0 kts TWS, 80-105 TWA. We think the staysail under the Code Zero is slower at 6-8.0 kts TWS. But, we never got more wind to really test this combination further.

There was a "Catalina Eddy" sailing condition during the night. That meant there was a periodic phasing of colder, stronger breeze forward from offshore; followed by warmer, lighter gradient veered breeze (60 degrees!)! So, we sailed the A1 spinnaker in both VMG mode and hotter sailing angle modes (the phases were too quick to merit gybing with two on deck, but fully crewed we would've). During daylight, we got to two boat test-sail against the Farr 40s, trying both modes.

Our take-away was that the J/121 can be fast sailed deep on the A1 (TWA 148-152, TWS 6-8 kts) with all weight forward and two crew to leeward. Paradoxically, this reverses at TWS 9-10 kts, where hotter angles are better."

Meanwhile, Terri Manok's all-female team on the J/120 Pole Dancer also had a successful offshore experience on their way to Ensenada. Her crew members were American, Irish, Canadian, and a New Zealander. They won the Caroline Starr Trophy for Best Corrected All Female Crew as well as the Carlos Avila Escoto Trophy for the Best Corrected J/120.

"We stayed out of the fray and got a good start," said Manok. "It was a long race, but had a wonderful group of ladies to sail with. And, we had fun!"

"The girls" on Manok's Pole Dancer persevered, stuck to their guns, and pulled off a podium finish against a large class of veteran offshore racers, taking the bronze in the PHRF A Spinnaker class, just 20 minutes from silver! You go girls, great sailing!

Rudolph Hasl's crew from San Diego YC sailed their J/145 Palaemon in the PHRF ULDB A Class and, despite the light, shifty, streaky winds, pulled off a fourth place in a fleet filled with all-carbon offshore racers, mostly super-fast TP52s.

Then, in PHRF ULDB C Class, Doug and Jack Jorgensen's J/111 Picosa got on the podium by taking third in class, while Seth Hall's J/124 Marisol took fourth. That was a great result for both boats in the 24-hour sprint down the Mexican coastline.

In PHRF ULDB D Class, Juan Lois' J/105 Rocinante won class honors while fellow stablemates, Brian Kerr's J/92 Double Down took the silver; a great celebration was had by these two J/teams at the top of the podium!

In the shorter Newport to San Diego Race (the "sunset sail"), Robert Pace's J/145 Andiamo 2 took the bronze in the PHRF A class of fifteen boats, the largest of any class in the entire event!

In the even shorter Newport to Dana Point Race (the "day sail"), it was a near clean sweep of the top five by J/Crews! Winning was Jock McGraw's J/22 Tekeela, followed by Charles Brewer's J/124 Heartbeat 4 in third place, Marty Henehan's J/92 Firewater in fourth place, and taking sixth place was the Newport Harbor YC's youth team on the J/70 Sloop John B, skippered by Tom Garret.

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