Seven top contenders return
Seven of last year's nine winners in the Newport Ocean Sailing Association's Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race will return to the starting line off Balboa Pier for the 63rd annual classic Friday at noon. Spectators won't have any trouble picking out the fastest one among the 212 entries: H.L. (Loe) Enloe's Jeanneau-built ORMA 60 trimaran, LoeReal.
In 2009's dream reaching breeze, as Doug Baker's Magnitude 80 ripped off a monohull record time of 10 hours 37 minutes 50 seconds, Enloe, of El Paso, Texas, and his world-class crew sailed their French-built beauty to the second fastest time ever by a multihull of 8 hours 45 minutes 3 seconds. That earned them the race's NOSA award for fastest elapsed time by any boat.
Mag 80 won't be back, but LoeReal, representing San Diego's Silver Gate Yacht Club, returns with an ambitious goal: the race multihull record of 6 hours 46 minutes 40 seconds set by the late Steve Fossett on the Stars & Stripes softsail catamaran in 1998 - the only boat ever to finish before sundown.
Do they have a shot at it? "Well, right now I'm just worried about winning the race," Enloe said. "But a littler prayer might help."
Enloe added: "Stars & Stripes was completely different from this boat. This boat was specifically built for sailing in Brittany [France]. We've raced this boat to Hawaii. It has all of the necessary long-distance necessities. We don’t have a fridge but we have bunks and a water maker."
LoeReal also will be heavy with multihull know-how. The crew includes Cam Lewis, who has raced cats and tris about everywhere in the world, including skipper Team Adventure around the world in The Race and Pete Melvin, who designs them, going back to Stars & Stripes, and also is a three-time world champion on singlehanded A-Cats. Other crew members big in the multihull community are Nat Iyangar, Tim McKegney, Jan Majer and Ed McCoy.
Cam Lewis will bring his 14-year-old son Beau along, apparently to build his dedication to multihulls. "Lead is slow," Lewis said.
Melvin also was part of the design team for BMW Oracle's victory over Alinghi in the recent America's Cup multihull match, but it's uncertain what impact that will have on the sport. Is that the future? "Well, sure, why not?" Enloe asks. "It was fun seeing those billionaires beat up on each other."
The overall winner on corrected handicap time - Maxis plus PHRF A through K are eligible - will receive a $6,000 Lamborghini diamond watch.
Other 2009 winners returning:
Overall correct time (President of USA; all PHRF) - Sojourn (Catalina 30), Cleve Hardaker, San Diego, 14:01:44.
Cruz (Sec. of Foreign Relations, Mexico; corrected time all Cruz Div. boats) - Windswept, Karlin Scott, Newport Beach, Calif., 13:56:59.
Maxi (President of Mexico; corrected time) - It's OK (Andrews 50), Tres Gordos Sailing, LLC, 15:56:26.
First All-Female (Caroline Starr; corrected time) - Cruz Control (Santa Cruz 27), Annette Cook, Women's Ocean Racing Sailing Assn., 16:02:03.
Dublehanded (Volvo; corrected time) - Carpe Domani (Catalina 27), Larry Wilson, Navy Yacht Club San Diego), 14:35:50.
Highest corrected time (Brass Spittoon; all boats) - C.C. (Columbia 29.2), Chris Meyers, 20:46:24.
The fastest-rated monohull is Lorenzo Berho's Kernan 70, Peligroso, handicapped at minus-123 seconds per mile. There are only four other boats in the Maxi class: Taxi Dancer, a Reichel/Pugh 68 from Santa Barbara YC, rated -84; Dennis Conner's Farr 60, Stars & Stripes, San Diego YC, -63; Tres Gordos LLC's It's OK, an Andrews 50 from Balboa YC, -57, and Alec Oberschmidt's Staghound, an R/P 50 from Southwestern YC, -51.
The forecast at midweek for Friday was for SSW wind of 8 knots, following a couple of days of rain showers. Rain doesn't matter; it's wind that counts.