For the moment, the glory belongs to the smaller boats that got head starts on Roy Disney's Pyewacket in Del Rey Yacht Club's 17th biennial race to Puerto Vallarta.
The answer to whether they can hold on lies in the uncertainties of the Gulf of California not far beyond the horizon.
Bay Wolf, a Santa Cruz 50 familiar to Mexican and Transpac races to Hawaii, was the overall leader Sunday and closing in on Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja California, a significant way point in the 1,125-nautical mile race. Skipper Richard Parlette is sailing the boat under charter from Kirk Wilson of the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club in San Pedro.
Winslow Lincoln's Locomotion, an Andrews 45, was 62 miles behind at the morning's position reports and gaining slowly but steadily on Bay Wolf while trying to hold off a charge by Jake Wood's bright red Mull 82, Sorcery. Locomotion and Sorcery started Thursday in class PHRF A. Bay Wolf started Wednesday in PHRF B.
Pyewacket, the only entry in PHRF AA, started alone Friday, had the longest 24-hour run of 247 miles and was averaging 9.8 knots for the course, slightly faster than Joss's average of 9.45 knots when the MacGregor 65 set the race record in 1985.
Sunday's positions reflected a slight decrease in wind strength from 15 down to 13 knots, although the direction remained favorable from the northwest. As a result, Sorcery took 22 miles back from Locomotion, while Atalanta, Richard Hedreen's Tripp 74 ketch from Seattle, moved into third place in PHRF BB behind Bay Wolf and another S/C 59, Jack Taylor's Horizon, with a 210-mile day.
What conditions the fleet would find in the last fourth of the race across the gulf to Puerto Vallarta will determine prospects for a record.
Immediately after the completion of the race, North Sails and the Mexican Sailing Association are sponsoring a new five-day regatta in Banderas Bay called Vallarta Race Week. All Marina del Rey-Puerto Vallarta participants were invited to take part.