The final outcome seemed clear from nearly two weeks earlier when the starting gun fired for Del Rey Yacht Club’s PV09 International Race Series to Puerto Vallarta, presented by CORUM Swiss Timepieces. Bob Kettenhofen’s racy Beck 60, Dare, which flew away off the line, would finish first in all four races, but how about that old wooden schooner surfing not far behind?
Even Byron Chamberlain, the owner of Rose of Sharon, downplayed his 79-year-old boat’s anticipated performance before the event, and on the dock at Opequimar Marina Thursday he seemed astonished when results of the Race 4 finale 286 nautical miles from Baja California across the Gulf of California were posted.
For the first time Dare and Rose of Sharon finished first overall on corrected handicap time in Spinnaker A and B classes, respectively, depriving Dan Howard’s Carmagnole, a new Beneteau First 44, and David Kory’s Barking Spider, a Catalina 36 MK2, of sweeps in those classes—although for the complete event the Spider did prevail over the entire 15-boat fleet, with the Rose in second place 3 1/2 hours behind.
“I can’t believe we did that well,” Chamberlain said.
But the nice surprise for Dare, with the only sub-zero PHRF rating in the fleet (-27), was that it finally came out ahead in a race after dealing tons of time to all of its rivals through the first three races. Rose of Sharon was rated 132—that’s 159 seconds per mile—and Barking Spider 134. The four races measured a combined 1,034 nautical miles. Do the math.
Otherwise, Dare’s problem was that it was one of a kind, racing against mostly what hardcore racers call “furniture boats.” It finished at 9:35:54 p.m. PST Wednesday, once again hours ahead of everyone else in dying breeze, but this time far enough ahead for a payoff.
Fairly early in the four races Kettenhofen, a Newport Beach sailmaker, became resigned to his destiny.
“We decided to just sail the boat for fun,” he said.
A problem for Dare and some others was the event’s unique new rule on motoring that allowed a boat to use its engine and pay a penalty when wind was so light that its sailing speed dropped below its assigned “Cross-Over” speed. Dare’s Cross-Over speed was 4.13 knots, Rose’s 3.6 and Spider’s 3.45.
“We used the engine too much,” Kettenhofen said. “Whenever we got below 4.13 we turned the engine on. But a lot of people used their engines below their Cross-Over speeds. The rule isn’t yet simple enough for the typical sailor to understand. We probably didn’t look at it closely enough.”
Generally, those who used their motors less scored better, and although engine use was minimal or non-existent for all the boats in the windier Races 3 and 4, the results were similar.
Dare’s time would have been a few minutes earlier except for a glitch at the finish when, sailing into a rising moon in the last 300 yards, it tacked to go offshore away from the finish line marked by a flashing strobe light.
“We draw nine feet and I didn’t want to come down through the mudflats,” Kettenhofen said. “We were looking for the strobe and saw a light off to the right, but it wasn’t the right one.”
When they realized their error directly opposite the finish line, they tacked back toward shore and crossed successfully.
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