Pyewacket lines up for record

Roy Disney's maxi sled up for Puerto Vallarta race

Sunday November 17th 2002, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United States
One significant record that has eluded Roy E. Disney's Reichel/Pugh 74 maxi sled in its four years of successful campaigning is the Del Rey Yacht Club's biennial race from Marina del Rey to the Mexican resort. The 17th running of the oldest continuous race to Mexico's mainland is scheduled to start Feb. 7-14, and this may be Pyewacket's last chance.

After next summer's Transpac to Hawaii, Disney will be moving up to his fourth Pyewacket, a larger maxZ86, a new class of ocean racers. Meanwhile, he wants to complete the present Pyewacket's dance card, which already includes records for the Transpac, West Marine Pacific Cup and, just this year on a cross-country tour, Newport to Bermuda and Chicago to Mackinac Island.

But Puerto Vallarta has been an elusive target for some of the world's best ocean racers. The race has been run since 1971 and the record has stood since 1985 when Dick and Camille Daniels enjoyed an exceptionally breezy run and sailed their MacGregor 65, Joss, the 1,125 nautical miles in 4 days 23 hours 0 minutes 4 seconds, with an average speed of 9 1/2 knots.

"There is a shot at breaking that record," Disney said, "and we're still racing the boat in its 'turbo' configuration, as we did the Newport-Bermuda and Chicago-Mac, with the keel a foot and a half deeper and a mast that's five feet taller."

He said that configuration is "significantly faster" than the restricted mode Pyewacket had in 1999 when it set the Transpac record of 7 1/2 days, averaging 12.4 knots. "It would be great fun if we could pull that off," Disney said.

In 2001 Pegasus, Philippe Kahn's Andrews 70 turbo sled, was first to Puerto Vallarta in 5 1/2 days. Later that year he won Transpac with his R/P 75 maxi sled of the same name.

Records aside, the 'Fast Forty' fleet will have its own competition. There is already a handful of potential entries in that group, including Phillip Friedman's Farr 39ML, Black Knight, and Al Berg's Farr 395, Ghost II. Organisers will score any group of five or more boats according to their own ratings for class awards, in addition to being eligible for overall PHRF prizes.

Additionally, the 2003 race will be followed by a new five-day series of races in Banderas Bay called Puerto Vallarta Race Week. The regatta, sponsored by North Sails and the Mexican Sailing Federation, replaces the MEXORC series, which is now held only in even-numbered years.

Among 37 boat owners already requesting entry packets in the Racing and Salsa divisions are competitors from San Francisco to San Diego. The Salsa fleet will have overnight stops scheduled at Turtle Bay, Santa Maria and Cabo San Lucas on the Baja California peninsula before crossing the Gulf of California to Puerto Vallarta.

Officials in Puerto Vallarta reported that last month's Hurricane Kenna blew through with great force but did no significant damage to the Westin Regina, the P.V. Race host hotel, or the ultra-modern Marina Vallarta where the race boats will be berthed.

Del Rey Yacht club has presented a series of preparation seminars for the race. The final one is scheduled Thursday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m. at the club, 13900 Palawan Way, in Marina del Rey. Coffee, tea and snacks will be served. Emphasis will be on provisioning, the return trip and special documentation required for entering and returning from Mexico.

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