PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico—Considering the destination is a balmy seaside resort town with a leisurely lifestyle, things are happening fast on board Doug Baker’s Magnitude 80 right now in Del Rey Yacht Club’s 19th International Yacht Race to Puerto Vallarta, presented by Corum.
Navigator Ernie Richau reported Sunday: “Another fantastic 24 hours of running with the code 2A [spinnaker sail] in 16-22 knots from the northwest. Our first 24-hour 1 p.m. to 1 p.m. run was 393 miles down the course. Any chance you know the record in a Mexican race for 24-hour mileage?”
Officially, the Andrews 80 with the canting keel sailed 364 nautical miles between morning roll calls Saturday and Sunday and was averaging 14.5 knots for the 1,125-mile course, compared to the 9.5 knots Joss averaged when it set the record of 4 days 23 hours 14 seconds in 1985 that has frustrated some supposedly faster boats ever since.
Peggy Redler, the race administrator, said, “We’ve had big boats in our race but we’ve never had weather like this. It’s been good wind all the way, and even here in the [Banderas] bay it’s unusually cool with a good breeze.”
Magnitude 80 would need to finish only by 1 p.m. Wednesday PST (3 p.m. Puerto Vallarta time) to beat the record, and they had about three days to sail the last 495 miles. Considering even the 292.64 uncertain miles across the Gulf of California, including the last 20 from Punta Mita, it seemed Magnitude 80 would not be denied.
The other issue is whether Magnitude 80 can win the race’s overall honors on corrected handicap time. Since David Janes’s Scout Spirit was dismasted on the first day, their only rival for that award is Lorenzo Berho’s Raincloud.
Mag owes the J/145 45 hours, but the Puerto Vallarta boat started 48 hours earlier, and at mid-day Sunday Mag had closed steadily to within 46 miles. All Mag needed to do was finish within three hours of Raincloud—slam dunk, right?
Not quite. A lot can happen between Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. Ask Roy Disney, whose Pyewacket broke its topmast while leading Magnitude 80 two years ago.
With all of that, like the Salsa Division boats, the race’s hardcore competitors also have time to enjoy the sights along the way.
Richau noted: “The sea life is starting to show up. Doug was driving as we passed about 100 feet past a BIG whale. We are setting up for the Cabo rounding now and looking into the gulf for weather. All else is well.”
The Salsa fleet starts its third and last leg around mid-day Monday with three boats—Jim Puckett’s Amazing Grace (3-1), David Kory’s Barking Spider 3 (1-3)and Gil Maguire’s Tenacity (2-2)—sharing the lead with four points each in the spinnaker class on overall handicap time. They’ll re-start the race well rested after a three-day layover in Cabo San Lucas.
“Although we are all relaxed, it is hard not to think about Monday, and the last leg of this race,” Kory said by e-mail. “With the three top boats all tied in points, it all boils down to Leg 3, and we are starting to get butterflies.”
Yes, the Salsas also take their racing seriously, despite sounding awe-struck by the adventure.
Meredith Ritner, wife of a crew member, Bob Ritner, on Pat Hearne’s Far Niente, related a report from the Dana Point, Calif. boat: “Thursday night the seas were pretty rough and a wave nailed them on the starboard quarter causing two crew members to lurch across the cabin. They ended up taking out the salon table and spent the better part of today repairing it.
“They have been awed by the animal life. In addition to seeing lots of whales, they were visited by a pod of dolphins that left bio-luminescent trails through the night seas. [Friday] night they thought they may have seen the Black Pearl, as they saw what appeared to be boat lights approaching them but had no [radar] sighting. Later, they saw a planet setting over the horizon. . . . One member swears and be damned if it wasn’t a UFO. Of course, the UFO phenomenon could be explained by the limited amount of sleep everyone has had—or the bibulous habits of sailors.”
Awards will be presented at separate banquets in Puerto Vallarta March 2 and 3. Corum, the lead sponsor, will present the Admiral’s Cup Trophy 41 watch to the winner of each class within each division. The timepiece with a 41mm stainless steel case and nautical pennants instead of numerals to indicate the hours was introduced by Corum before the 2005 race.
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