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1 May 2006, 01:18 pm
Pyewacket And Mad Max The Big Winners
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LEXUS Newport To Ensenada Yacht Race 2006
Ensenada, Mexico

The maxZ86 Pyewacket brought joy to its former owner and a Hobie 33 named Mad Max set the bar for efficiency among 461 boats, but accounts of the wind starved 59th Lexus Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race also addressed some who were scored DNF - did not finish.
The latter included Windquest, Doug DEVOS' (USA) maxZ86 from Michigan that started well with an eye on the race record; 83 year old Vic STERN (USA) of Long Beach, sailing the venerable catamaran Imi Loa in its 44th race to Baja California, and Dennis CONNER (USA), who has turned nostalgically to wooden boats in the wake of his America's Cup days.

Meanwhile, Roy DISNEY (USA), who donated Pyewacket to the Orange Coast College School of Sailing & Seamanship last year, was in Baltimore over the weekend racing on Paul CAYARD's Pirates of the Caribbean in Saturday's Volvo Ocean Race In Port race. Pyewacket, although one of the fastest monohulls in the world when DISNEY owned it, was an unknown factor for this race after reducing its ballast and sail area and taking on a new crew of mostly non-professionals.

Slow But Impressive Win

But the two year old boat, sailing faster than what little wind there was, led the way in 17 hours, 8 minutes and 20 seconds - well off the record of 10:44:54 set by its predecessor Pyewacket 77 in 2003, but impressive by the nearly three hour margin of its victory over Doug BAKER's (USA) runner up Magnitude 80.

'Oh, I couldn't be more pleased,' DISNEY said by phone Sunday. 'First I'd read the report that Windquest was leading at the start and I thought, 'Gee, maybe we slowed that boat too much.' But I see now it's still very fast.'

Windquest, Imi Loa and CONNER's chartered schooner, the 78 year old 82 foot Kelpie, dropped out, as did 106 others who either saw they were not going to make Sunday's 1100 local time deadline for finishing, or finish in time to get to work Monday morning. Specific reasons were not immediately known.

Even some who did complete the 125 nautical miles were not official finishers, including cruising class boats that finished under motor power in daylight, a violation of the class rules, and were resignedly scored THWI - the hell with it.

Mad Max Picks Up The Honours

Max ROSENBERG's (USA) Mad Max, with a rating of 69 seconds per mile, was the overall winner in corrected handicap time. For perspective, Pyewacket's rating was minus 270, meaning it owed Mad Max 339 seconds per mile or almost twelve hours for the race. The Hobie 33 from the King Harbour Yacht Club in Redondo Beach, sailed in PHRF Class D with a crew of Jack LEMAIRE, Tim HARRIS and Paul WREN. They were one of the smallest D boats but the first to finish in just under 25 hours that corrected out to 22:26:41.

'We were shooting for this,' said ROSENBERG, a corporate jet pilot. 'We had some specialty light air sails that Kevin MILLER made just for this race.'

Did ROSENBERG know something others did not?

'I'm a pilot so I check the weather a lot,' he said, smiling. 'It's an inherent advantage I have. We put all the ingredients in place. We practiced because you know you're going to change sails a lot in this race.'

They flew spinnakers from 90 minutes after the start until the finish - reachers first, then a runner in Todos Santos Bay.

Because of the slow pace of the race - seven to eight knots at the Friday start, peaks of perhaps twelve knots and pits as low as zero - most of the visitors in town before Sunday were friends and families who drove here or tourists from two large cruise ships.

But the vibes accelerated Saturday night into Sunday morning in pre-awards activity in the courtyard of the headquarters Bahia Hotel where sailors told their tales.


Those included Valkyrie, a Cal 25 that Stan ALBRECHT (USA) of the Shoreline Yacht Club in Newport Beach has sailed for 33 years - 16 times in this race, with four class wins, including this one in PHRF-L for the lowest and slowest.

Valkyrie finished at 0151 on Sunday after 36 and a half hours of sailing at an average speed of 3.4 knots and blessed by a fortuitous accident.

Bowman Paul SELF said, 'One of our guys hit the MOB [man overboard] button on the GPS [global positioning system instrument] and sent us eight miles outside the rhumb [direct] line.'

'But it turned out to be a good thing,' Eric TAYLOR said, 'because it found us some wind.'

The fourth crew member was Frank MARTIN, who took credit for the helpful fluke.

ALBRECHT said, 'That enabled us to set a straight course for Salsipuedes [headland]. We set the spinnaker off La Jolla and flew it all the way to the bay here before we made our only jibe.'

Valkyrie's rating of 222 cut its elapsed time of 36:31:58 to a corrected time of 28:49:28.

Scout Spirit, a 75 foot turbosled entered by the Newport Sea Base, was the third monohull to finish behind only Pyewacket and Magnitude 80. David JANES was the skipper with a crew that included nine Sea Scouts, three Scout adults, a few friends and only two pros.

Pyewacket's Mixed Crew

Pyewacket also had few pros among its crew of 26, about eight or ten over its usual complement. Brad AVERY, the school's director and co-skipper with Keith KILPATRICK, said, 'We wanted to rotate a lot of people. We had a really good group of guys' - and three women.

'The good news is that with the changes we made it's still a very quick boat. It's also the first major trophy for the college, so we're very happy.'

After battling early headwinds, Pyewacket hoisted a close reaching asymmetrical spinnaker before the Coronado Islands at the border and alternated it with a large Code Zero headsail on roller furl and finished with a chute in the last pre-dawn gasps of an onshore breeze.

KILPATRICK said, 'It could not have gone better. We had a great start and were always going 2 knots faster than the wind.'

As for Magnitude 80, AVERY said, 'We're just glad they were there to give us a great race.'

Rich ROBERTS (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Co-skipper Keith KILPATRICK receives Pyewacket's first to finish trophy:© Rich ROBERTS
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