Roy DISNEY's maxZ86, Pyewacket; Randall Pittman's Dubois 90, Genuine Risk, and Doug BAKER's Andrews 80, Magnitude 80, will be on the starting line for the last of four starts Feb. 11-18. All are part of the new generation of canting keel boats, and all will be seeking the record that has eluded some of the world's fastest ocean racers for 20 years.
In 1985 Richard and Camille DANIEL'S MacGregor 65, Joss, boosted by following breezes of 15 to 25 knots most of the way, raced the 1,125 nautical miles in 4 days 23 hours 0 minutes 4 seconds. Average speed: 9 1/2 knots.
That would seem easy pickings for the lead trio, but the record-shielded in part by variable conditions-has withstood challenges from the West Coast's fastest ocean racers for nearly two decades. Disney's previous Pyewacket, an R/P 74, missed by less than six hours in 2003.
Pittman, 50, lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he is chairman and CEO of Forest Health Services Corp. He keeps the boat in San Diego.
The only meeting between Genuine Risk and the new Pyewacket was earlier this year in the Maxi Worlds at Sardinia when Pittman's boat, rated faster but relatively untested at the time, beat Pyewacket boat for boat in four of five races but corrected out on handicap time only once-the latter hardly a priority for these boats.
'That's true,' said Keith LORENCE, Genuine Risk's co-helmsman from San Diego. 'That's what you build these boats for: to go as fast as possible and get there first.'
Duthie LIDGARD, Genuine Risk's boat captain, said, 'The biggest thing will be trying to keep up with Pyewacket. With the changes we have made, instead of being even with her downwind we should be slightly quicker.'
The conditions across the Gulf of California are often daunting. 'Upwind in light air, we're very fast,' Lidgard said. 'But I've heard it can be anything.'
Joss is long gone from the racing scene, but there will be another MacGregor 65 with more than a nostalgic purpose in mind: David KORY's Barking Spider 3 from the South Bay Yacht Racing Club. Kory raced last year's Transpacific Yacht Race on a Catalina 38 and logged the second fastest corrected time among 11 Aloha division entries.
The early lineup of 19 Racing Division boats and 21 Salsa Division competitors also includes Kirk Wilson's Santa Cruz 50, Bay Wolf, from Cabrillo Beach YC, which finished second in PHRF-B in 2003.
Broadway Babe is a headliner in the Salsa Division, which will feature two or three layovers and fishing competition along the way. Jim Maslon's C&C 110 from Del Rey YC was distinctive in 2003 for its blue and white spinnaker depicting an exotic dancer-Maslon's wife Laura's mother, a former vaudeville performer.