Will the record be broken?
Overall, the race is energized by some new features. The introdu ction of Flagship satellite tracking of all boats will allow for automatic position reporting and a new 'four races in one' format for the Racing Division.
There also is the prospect of a new elapsed time record as Doug Baker's Magnitude 80, an Andrews 80, and David Janes' Scout Spirit, a Reichel/Pugh 77, set their sights on the incredibly durable record of 4 days 23 hours 4 seconds set by Dick and Camille Daniels' Joss 22 years ago. With reasonable breeze, the record is overdue to fall.
Also, upon arrival in Puerto Vallarta the fleet will be hosted at the new Opequimar Marina and Yacht Club with mooring facilities for all boats and all the amenities of the club, including satellite TV and wi-fi Internet connections, available to the crews.
The Salsa spinnaker boats will start off Marina del Rey at 1 p.m. Friday, followed by the non-spinnaker boats 10 minutes later.
The five Racing Division boats will start Feb. 21 and 23, following their party Feb. 20. While the Salsa fleet must leave Santa Catalina Island to starboard and sail through the channel, the Racing fleet will now be allowed to go outside the island, as Joss did in 1985 when it found an express train of breeze that it rode all the way. It could make the difference for a record.
Joss was a MacGregor 65, like David Kory's Barking Spider 3, one of this year's Salsa entries. But Kory has no designs on the record, opting for the diversions of the Salsa Division with overnight stops at Cedros Island, Cabo San Lazaro and Bahia Santa Maria. When winds are light, Salsa racers may use engine power but pay a penalty added to their time.
"I enjoy this type of racing where you are allowed to use your motor when you need to," Kory said. "I think there should be more of these races."
Kory, from Concord, Calif. in the Bay area, realizes that even though Barking Spider 3 is the same type of boat that holds the record it can't compete with the modern speed potential of Magnitude 80 and Scout Spirit, so he feels at home in the Salsa fleet.
That's not to say he has lacked for adventure. In the previous Puerto Vallarta race, Barking Spider 3 blew out its main sail in 25-knot headwinds south of San Diego and returned to port. But Kory and his crew were so disappointed at the prospect of missing the post-race festivities that they got on a plane and flew to Puerto Vallarta.
Later, in the 2005 Transpacific Yacht Race, they limped into Waikiki without a main after the boom pin sheared off. Then they took three months sailing home by way of Alaska.
"That's were we hit the ice," he said, indicating scratches on the dark blue bow that reflect the spirit of the Salsa fleet.
The Racing Division boats, meanwhile, not only will be competing on overall corrected handicap time for the race but for segments within the race. A new format will incorporate the scope of several other popular races to Mexico with the approximate finishing points at Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas and Punta Mita at the entrance to Banderas Bay marked with navigational 'crossing lines' where the boat's satellite transponders will transmit each vessel's date and exact time of crossing.
Non-participants at home will be able to follow both the Salsas and the Racers on the Internet. Scout Spirit will serve as communications vessel for traditional daily morning roll calls of the fleet.
Kory said, "With a lot of luck, I could be the first racer into PV again, and this time with my boat!"
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.
Racing Division / Starts Feb. 21 and 23
(with handicap ratings in seconds per mile)
Magnitude 80 (Andrews 80), Doug Baker, Long Beach (-165)
Scout Spirit (Reichel/Pugh 77), David Janes, Newport Beach (-123)
Raincloud (J/48), Lorenzo Berho, San Diego (-25)
Sapphire (Synergy1000), David Rasmussen, Novato, Calif. (27)
E.T. (Antrim 27), Todd Hedin/Liz Baylis, San Rafael, Calif. (60)
Salsa Division / Starts Feb. 16
Barking Spider 3 (MacGregor 65), David Kory, Concord, Calif. (-24)
Tenacity (J/133), Gil Maguire, Marina del Rey (9)
Amazing Grace (Farr 55), Jim Puckett, Pacific Palisades, Calif. (12)
Jungle Jim (Jeanneau 49), Jim Maslon, Marina del Rey (69)
Classic Impulse (Catalina 40), Sean Roll, Riverside, Calif. (102)
Voice of Reason (Ericson 32), Jim McCone/Mike Verla, Lomita, Calif. (180)
Vision (Tayana 48), Jean Rooryck, Woodland Hills, Calif. (78)
Polaire (Tayana 52), Hideshige Seki, Tokyo, Japan (87)
Far Niente (Catalina 42), Pat Hearne, Monarch Beach, Calif. (102)
Segue (Island Packet), Peter Hirsch, Santa Monica, Calif. (114)
Aquarius (Jeanneau 43), Hiro Funaoku, Marina del Rey (117)