Jack Taylor's Santa Cruz 50, Horizon, heads those eager early entries for the 18th biennial 1,125-nautical mile race to the Mexican mainland after winning last weekend's annual 75-mile Around Catalina race from San Pedro to Dana Point on corrected handicap time.
Although launched 20 years ago, Horizon won PHRF-B class in Puerto Vallarta 2003. The sleek white mini-sled from Dana Point Yacht Club has aged gracefully with strong maintenance and is faster than ever after technical upgrades, including asymmetrical spinnaker configuration. "We've been through the whole boat," Taylor said.
The first entries are split almost evenly between 11 in the Racing Division and 10 in the Salsa group, the division for skippers who prefer to break up the race into three legs but still enjoy the thrill of a competitive long-distance blue water event.
Entry forms should be requested by Oct. 10. Del Rey Yacht Club will provide dock space for all starters and assist in air transportation and hotel accommodations.
Horizon won last year after a come-from-behind battle of Santa Cruz 50s against Bay Wolf, sailing under charter by Richard Parlette from owner Kirk Wilson of Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club. Horizon and Bay Wolf were among four boats to post corrected times faster than Roy Disney's former Pyewacket, since sold.
Pyewacket fell less than six hours shy of the MacGregor 65 Josh's enduring record of 4 days 23 hours set in 1985, so that standard remains a target for the biggest boats.
The record may be beyond a Santa Cruz 50s reach, but Taylor looks forward to the continuing rivalry with Bay Wolf. After Bay Wolf finished 43 minutes behind Horizon in the 2003 race, Taylor said, "Kirk went out and bought an A-sail, too"---and beat Horizon by five minutes in the San Diego to Manzanillo race last February.
Three preparation seminars are scheduled Oct. 11, Nov. 14 and Dec. 9. Taylor found them valuable in 2003. "We attended all three," he said. "They make people feel more comfortable with the race. They cover everything from A to Z, from how to provision your boat to the safety equipment you need. We also met a lot of the other boat owners, so we were like old friends by the time we got to Puerto Vallarta."
The Salsa Division will start 11 February, a week ahead of the racing fleets, and enjoy layovers at Turtle Bay and Cabo San Lucas, with Bahia Santa Maria as an option in between. The lineup will accommodate spinnaker and non-spinnaker boats.
The first Salsa boat back from 2003 is Scott Adam's Davidson 53, Quest, from Del Rey Yacht Club.
All entries must have a minimum deck length of 35 feet and a Southern California PHRF off-wind course rating of 150 seconds per mile maximum. Salsa entries also must be capable of a minimum speed of 6 knots under power for a minimum distance of 150 miles.