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13 February 2003, 10:04 am
Windy, Wet, Cold and Loving It!
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Puerto Vallarta Race
Marina del Rey, USA - Puerto Vallarta, MEX

The PHRB-B fleet found a fair breeze at yesterday's start of the Del Rey Yacht Club's 17th biennial race to Puerto Vallarta that they hoped would carry them out from under the rainclouds.

Amid moderate to heavy showers, an uncommon offshore northeasterly wind of 13-16 knots reversed the traffic pattern at nearby LAX so that planes were landing from seaward directly over the course. The six racers didn't mind. With the line set south, square to the tip of the Palos Verdes peninsula, they enjoyed a smooth beam reach start and an easy fetch of the turning point.

Phillip Friedman's Farr 39ML Black Knight, sailing for the host club, was first across with the committee boat to port, followed by Richard Parlette's Santa Cruz 50 Bay Wolf, under charter from Kirk Wilson of Cabrillo Beach YC. Then came Jack Taylor's Horizon, another S/C 50 from Dana Point YC; Charles Weghorn's Farr 52 Zamazaan, St. Francis YC, and Al Berg's Farr 395 Ghost II, Santa Monica Windjammers.

With 1,125 nautical miles to go, Richard Hedreen played it cautiously and brought up the rear with the largest boat in the class, his Tripp 74 ketch Atalanta from Seattle.

Zamazaan started with a reefed main sail and some boats considered hoisting spinnakers until they determined the reach was a bit too tight.

Two PHRF-A boats will start today at 1 p.m. local time---Keith Kilpatrick's chartered Andrews 45 Locomotion, South Shore YC, and Jake Wood's Mull 82 Sorcery, California YC. The last starter on Friday will be Roy Disney's Reichel/Pugh 75 Pyewacket, which hoped to ride the storm conditions for all they're worth in pursuit of Joss's 18-year-old record for the race.

Taylor expected to take Horizon well offshore to pick up the best winds. "We'll probably split the [Santa Catalina and San Clemente] islands and go way, way out," he said, "at least 60 miles offshore."

Harry Pattison, a watch captain on Black Knight, said, "The first half of the race should be pretty fast. After that we don't really know [because] the forecasts for 6 or 7 days out aren't too reliable."

But Friedman was encouraged by the weather. "This---wet and cold---is the way it was in '85 when I sailed the race and Joss set the record," he said.

Partway down the Baja California peninsula, the Salsa Division fleet of 14 boats was scheduled to depart Turtle Bay Wednesday after the first of three layovers in its more relaxed competition.

Rich Roberts/ISAF Secretariat
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