When Larry Silver reported from the escort boat Diver Gent on progress of the Salsa fleet in the Del Rey Yacht Club's 17th biennial race to Puerto Vallarta, his opening words were encouraging: <i>"Weather is excellent and beautiful . . ."</I>
Then it continued: ". . . for power boats."
With a flat sea and a light 6-knot westerly wind, by Day 3 Sunday all 14 entries had become power boats to some degree. Rules allow Salsa Division competitors to use engine power in light or no wind, although they must pay a time penalty for each minute of use at the end of this first of four legs of the 1,175-nautical mile race.
The three classes in the Racing Division will start Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 1 p.m. They will have no stopovers or engine allowance. The Racing Division skippers' meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 11, 5 p.m., at Del Rey Yacht Club, preceding a Mexican-style fiesta.
David Fell's Nelson/Marek 50, Gold Digger, from Long Beach, had used its engine for only two hours---far less time than any rival---but the restraint cost it the positional lead in the Salsa Spinnaker class when Allen Puckett's Farr 55, Amazing Grace, and Ross Pearlman's Jeanneau 52.2, Between the Sheets, steamed by late Saturday. Then Gold Digger fired up, also, to avoid losing more distance.
The Salsa boats were expected to finish their first leg by Sunday night when they passed Cedros Island. Then they would continue for 85 miles through the Dewey Canal into Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay) for a layover and party--and perhaps refueling---Monday night.
Meanwhile, the fleet encountered two squall lines with heavy rain. Principessa, a Newport 41S representing the host club, reported a minor injury when Dana Hutton, a past commodore of the Women's Sailing Association of Santa Monica Bay, fell against the navigation table when the boat lurched and bruised some ribs. "No broken bones, just lots of pain,"
was the report.
More serious was the loss of the gennaker overboard. Principessa's largest reaching sail "escaped from its well-secured bag and went for a swim,"
the report continued. The crew hadn't needed the sail because the wind has been on the nose, but other mechanical issues were a bilge repair, a loose toilet seat and malfunctioning wind electronics. Principessa was first across the starting line in the Non-Spinnaker B class last Friday.
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.