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21 February 2003, 12:01 pm
A Slow But Delightful Sail for Pyewacket
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© Rich Roberts

Puerto Vallarta Race
Marina Del Rey (USA) - Puerto Vallarta (BRA)

For Roy Disney, despite the string of world-class records his boat Pyewacket has accumulated, the pleasure of sailing is more than just going fast and finishing first.
"We had a most delightful sail down here," he said at the end of Del Rey Yacht Club's 17th biennial International Yacht Race from Marina del Rey to Puerto Vallarta. "The moon would rise as the sun was setting. We saw dolphins and birds and all kinds of wildlife. We were just going slow."

"Slow" for Pyewacket, a Reichel/Pugh 75 maxi sled, is an average speed of 9 knots for the 1,125-nautical mile course. The elapsed time was 5 days 4 hours 50 minutes 43 seconds, less than five hours slower than the race record of 4:23:00:04 set by Joss, a MacGregor 65, in the windy 1985 race. Pyewacket crossed the line off the beach fronting the Westin Regina Hotel inside Banderas Bay shortly after dark Wednesday under spinnaker in 8-10 knots of wind.

The time assured Winslow Lincoln's Andrews 45, Locomotion, skippered by Keith Kilpatrick, of overall honors on corrected time, as well as first to finish in class PHRF A over Jake Wood's Mull 82, Sorcery. Locomotion, which started a day ahead of Pyewacket, had finished in the morning with an elapsed time about 13 hours slower of 5:17:39:18, averaging 8.17 knots.

Sorcery was third on corrected time, followed by two Santa Cruz 50s---Jack Taylor's Horizon and Richard Partrell's chartered Bay Wolf---in PHRF B.

Although the nine racing division boats started on three successive days, five finished on the same day and two others after midnight, along with all of the Salsa Division entries. Charles Weghorn's Farr 52C, Zamazaan, was the last boat at sea. Phil Friedman's Farr 39ML, Black Knight, dropped out the first day with a shredded main sail.

Pyewacket navigator Stan Honey said, "It was really light air but a wonderful trip. We saw more than 14 knots of wind for only a few minutes. Most of the time it was 6 to 8. We were stopped at Cabo [San Lucas] for about an hour and sailing very slowly for five or six hours."

In contrast, Locomotion merely paused at Cabo for about 15 minutes when the wind died completely. The crew dropped the main sail, and as if on cue the wind returned.

"That was the key to the race," watch captain Randy Smith said, joking.

Pyewacket, on the other hand, found much lighter conditions a day behind. "We never saw another boat the whole time," Disney said. "We were sailing in a vacuum---literally! We had nothing you could even call weather."

The Horizon crew told a different tale, one of total commitment by a tight-knit crew after losing several miles to Bay Wolf the first day by sailing into the lee of Santa Catalina Island.

"We were never complacent," Barry Senescu said. "We pushed the boat, and we never hesitated to make a sail change we thought was necessary."

Val Navarro said, "We did five or six changes in an hour one time---kite to jib top to heavy number one to light number one to kite."

For most of the race they were chasing Bay Wolf's daily position report. "We didn't see them until we got around the Cape," Pat Shoemaker said.

Sue Senescu, the navigator, said, "Half the race was dead downwind. [Watch captain] Bruce Cooper found the right VMGs [velocity made good headings] and we sailed the best jibing angles."

Using an asymmetric spinnaker that Bay Wolf couldn't match, Horizon passed its rival about 100 miles from the finish.

Taylor has owned the boat only 15 months. The team finished last in the San Diego-to-Puerto Vallarta race last year.

"It's amazing what a little breeze and some practice can do for you," said Scott Taylor, the skipper's brother.
Rich Roberts/ISAF News Editor
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