Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race Gets Underway Friday, April 26

0
655
Share this:
Yachts set sail from the Balboa Pier in the 75th Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race / photo by Jim Collins

The 76th Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race gets underway on Friday, April 26 at 11 a.m. off of the Balboa Pier. Hundreds of spectators are expected to line the Balboa Pier and nearby beaches to catch a glimpse of the boats as they set sail for Baja California.

A multitude of racers and 145 boats that keep N2E a Southern California yacht racing favorite will take to the course bound for the Hotel Coral and Marina in Ensenada.

Race organizers, the Newport Ocean Sailing Association, will be celebrating before the start as it welcomes Mike Whalen’s Ramble On, for his 50th running of the iconic yacht race. The veteran has raced on eight of his own boats and crewed for others on just as many. They have varied in size, from 30 to 44 feet, and sailed in several classes, including ORCA with a not-so-fast catamaran.

He has been sailing Ramble On, his Beneteau 44.7 for just 2 years. It will be one of the 23 Beneteaus competing. Although he won a class trophy quite some time ago, he reports that they usually finish in the middle of the fleet.

“I just enjoy the sport – really enjoy sailing and racing,” said Whalen. After replacing a main sail (sadly lost in the Cabo race) he and his Shoreline Yacht Club crew are hopeful of a better finish this year.

Three other skippers will be sailing N2E for 40 years or more. Another three have sailed for more than 30 years, while a dozen have clocked over 20 finishes.

“We’re very excited to see the fleet grow this year to over 145 boats,” said NOSA Commodore Phil Herzfeld. “It’s also exciting to see 35 first-time owners competing in both the PHRF and Cruising fleets.”

Yachts set sail from the Balboa Pier in the 75th Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race / photo by Jim Collins

Bernt Helgaas of Wayzata, Minnesota, and his Norseman 447 Andreas is one of those excited first-timers. Helgaas bought the 1981 Norseman berthed in San Diego and has been refitting it for the past couple of years. Although made for ocean crossings, the heavy cruising boat needed a lot of TLC before it ventured outside the harbor.

Now, with new electronics, navigation systems, plumbing, and rigging, Andreas is about to start her new life as a race boat. “N2E is going to be a good shakedown for the boat and the crew,” Helgaas said. After N2E will be other long-distance races like the SoCal 300, and eventually Transpac.

Returning again and again and again in hopes of a repeat of last year’s three-trophy win is Rich Festa’s Groundhog Day. Sailing in the always-competitive maxi-class, the Rogers46 crossed the finish line at N2E 75 in 17hr 36mn 13s. They were two hours and 34 minutes faster than the closest class competitors.

The 75th race saw better-than-expected winds at the start, but dropped overnight, making for very close racing by morning’s light. Choices made by the skippers and navigators meant the difference between winning – or not – would come down to a matter of seconds in some classes.

Skippers for this year’s race are starting to track weather systems and chart expected conditions. They will be making strategic plans to maximize the wind or make the best of them.

Sailboats make their way down the coast to Ensenada in the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race in 2022 / photo by Jim Collins

Only one thing is for certain; N2E continues to be a competitive and fun race that offers weekend and competitive sailors the chance to sail to Mexico and back in a weekend.

NOSA and its nearly 40-person team of volunteers will present more than 30 trophies on Sunday, April 29.

The 17 sailors who chose the shorter course to San Diego will celebrate victories on Sunday at Silverlake Yacht Club.

The Newport Ocean Sailing Association, organizers of the historic Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race, was founded in 1947 to promote ocean racing off Newport Beach. The first 125-nautical mile race sailed on April 23, 1948, into the small fishing village of Ensenada, Mexico. Mrs. Denny Barr claimed the top prize for skippering Mickey, a 46-foot sloop to best overall corrected time.

With an emphasis on camaraderie and competition, the N2E quickly attracted thousands of racers, becoming an event where fun-seeking novices could race alongside celebrities and world-class sailors.

Visit https://nosa.org/ for more information.

Rio 100 (far left) sets sail off the Newport coast. The yacht went on to record the fastest elapsed time for a monohull in the Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race in 2022. / photo by Jim Collins
Share this: