The uncertainties of offshore sailboat racing and today’s economy notwithstanding, 16 plucky competitors will aim their bows toward the horizon Saturday to start Del Rey Yacht Club’s PV09 International Race Series to Puerto Vallarta, presented by CORUM Swiss Timepieces.
Nine boats in the Spinnaker A and B classes will start the
20th biennial event off Marina del Rey at 1 p.m., followed 10 minutes later by seven boats in Non-Spinnaker A and B.
The event’s new format expands on the popular Salsa Division model of recent years with three scheduled stopovers marking four separate races along the way. They’ll sail west to the Palos Verdes Peninsula and turn south down the San Pedro Channel between Santa Catalina Island and the mainland. First stop: Cedros Island and Turtle Bay.
Perry Peters, a financial advisor from Phoenix, Ariz. who will be sailing his J/120, Felícita, with four buddies, said, “I see a lot of people being very cautious and super conservative. We asked among ourselves, should we be doing this? And we all kind of agreed that things have come together for us this year, in terms of a crew that enjoys each others’ company, we like the race layout, and we just felt it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”
They’ll be long gone before their upstart hometown Arizona Cardinals line up against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl Sunday. No big deal.
“There’s a lot of hype around here,” Peters said by phone from Phoenix this week. “I’m not a real big football fan, but it is too bad we won’t be watching it. I think we may get it on Sirius Radio, but we are going to be pretty focused on the race.”
Peters, who keeps his boat in San Diego, and his pals are longtime sailors but short time racers.
“I’ve been sailing for 25 years,” he said, “but all of my sailing has been the cruising type sailing rather than racing. I’m looking forward to getting started so I can forget about all these details and worrying that I’m forgetting something.
“We feel that technically we’re good sailors. We all have our own boats and we’re looking forward to putting our [combined] knowledge to use and applying what we’ve studied over the years.”
Like the Cardinals, they’re underdogs.
“Most certainly,” Peters said. “Our racing has all been done this past year. We’ve had three races in 2008 preparing for this race … the San Diego to Oceanside race, the Big Rock race and then the Little Ensenada race [from San Diego].
“I’m realistic. We’re in the Spinnaker-A fleet and that’s very competitive. There are some real experienced sailors there and we’re the smallest boat. We’re going to treat it as a race and do our very best, but we won’t be disappointed if we don’t come in first.”
And they plan to eat well.
“Actually, we’re very strong in that department,” Peters said. “One gentleman who is actually a bachelor—Joe Warren—has a collection of like 400 cook books. He is our main chef, and in past races he’s prepared some really yummy food. If there’s an award for that, we’ll be one of the top contenders.”
The leg distances are 376 nautical miles from Marina del Rey to Cedros Island outside of Turtle Bay; 220 n.m. to Magdalena Bay, famous for its friendly migrating whales; 152 n.m. to Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baja peninsula, and the last 286 n.m. across the Gulf of California to Puerto Vallarta on the mainland, finishing off the beach in Banderas Bay in front of the race headquarters Westin Resort & Spa. Restart dates are Feb. 4 from Turtle Bay, Feb. 7 from Magdalena Bay and Feb. 10 from Cabo Falso.
A new and unique “Cross-Over speed” formula developed for the event factors in each boat’s PHRF handicap rating to create a relative speed that allows it to use its engine when its sailing speed drops below a certain point. Otherwise, using the engine is a disadvantage.
Details are in Section 13 of the Sailing Instructions.
Satellite transponders will track all boats from start to finish, offering the basis for two new awards. Since finish lines for the first three legs will be virtual, not visible, the awards will recognize the Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker division navigators whose calculated finish times most closely match the times registered by the boats’ on-board transponders, which will operate on real time.
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