With an “Ensenada Crew Experience Factor” averaging well over 10 races / member, you can imagine the pre-race advice that flooded Ray’s e-mail!   This year “we knew” there would be fairly good pressure on the course for most of the race, so the question was not only when and where it would swing….but which self proclaimed rock star would call it correctly.  We (now who might that be?) initially believed that the wind would be more SW or SSW by the time we made N. Coronado and, the great noon time conditions confirmed a light jib at the start, which we held until mid afternoon.  As the cold wind approached 13-15 slightly off San Clemente, we decided to level the boat with a Jib Top.  This change resulted in no noticeable loss of boat speed, but certainly added the dangerous factor of “comfort”…yet there we were, still happily rolling along flat at 9+ knots V.   A bit later in the afternoon, we knew we were in front of our class and, as we looked all around, we did not see any of our competition. (However, we did see some Border Runners clogging up the course.)   This must be the point in PHRF land (Pretty Hilarious Racing Formulas) where you get lulled into thinking that you are clearly ahead and winning, when in fact you are clearly ahead and losing.  The lesson here maybe that…if you find yourself in a PHRF comfort zone, then, you (not us) are probably not pushing hard enough?

I must not have been the only one feeling a false sense of happy boats go fast comfort, because it was not too long, before ‘we’ were again debating the next headsail change.  Sometime around 3PM, the wind dipped slightly and this was enough to finally kill off that pleasure cruising Jib Top and get us into a real racing sail… the Code O.  Did the JT hurt us?…we simply do not know, except that it sure looses power in hurry if the wind dips.  But with the Code O up, the boat speed jumped, immediately making us feel bad for not pulling it out of the bag a half hour earlier.  But wait…was that just an increase in Vs or did the “O” really make a difference?  Ahh, that must have been the point in off shore racing where comfort and overconfidence remain disproportionately high as compared to fading crew energy and the lack of continuous number crunching?  The lesson here possibly being: If you crunched as many numbers during the race…as you had crunched before the race…you would do a lot better!…or would you?    So anyway, we held the O for a good couple of hours with nice westerly and south westerly puffs from sporadic low dark clouds that were moving in fast from the outside.

By around 5PM the wind had steadied somewhat on our beam which put us on the right hand side of a rhumb line to N. Coronado.  Most of us being former S-35 sailors, seeing the Coronado’s before dark was a real treat.  Our position on this rhumbline was just about where we wanted to be…not too far to the right and definitely not inside for fear that the wind would back to SW. (Hey…that what the forecast said!).     Unfortunately? the wind did not go as far south as we anticipated (forecastedJ).  With the North Coronado now in sight off to the left, we found a fat enough apparent wind angle allowing us to pop a kite, which we held on a starboard reach all night long under 10-13Vs  and all the way thereafter uneventfully to our 4:59AM finish.  With only one unidentified boat to leeward of us in Ensenada Bay, we were forced to make those inevitable 2-3 jibes a few hundred yards from the finish line.

We found Jaunito’s dock totally empty, but those nice folks were well awake and waiting to greet us.  By 5:35AM the sun was upping and the big Mexican flag lay absolutely still and you could hear the “hee-hee-hees” from the cockpit.  But, our crew must be getting older, because we somehow successfully avoided the famous “Ensenada Cocktail Breakfast”.  Or it could have been that… we were not at all sure of victory.   But you all know the feeling…it was somewhat dark, few boats had finished, the wind had just shut off behind us…oh my… our finish “looked” pretty good.  That great feeling lasted about 20 minutes until we made it to the score board.  WHAT!! How could have anyone corrected on us!!!

Next time you visit to lovely Ensenada…make sure you take the 40 mile $6 per person Mexican taxi ride to Bufadora on the opposite side of the bay to see the blowhole.  It is truly awesome and the merchants are a riot.   Also, Sano’s Steak House (a few miles north of Ensenada on the highway) is a must. You would never know you were in Ensenada after entering their gardens.  The food is a bit pricey but far, far beyond anything in town.

Ed. Note: Temptress corrected out on White Knight.  The two boats were in different classes because Temptress chose to use the old fractional chutes.  Congratulations to Ray on bragging rights and earning his gold burgee for the 20th time he’s done the race!

PHRF A WHITE KNIGHT USA 888 KATINSZKY, ZOLTAN CBYC 16:54:58 17:07:31 12 FIN

PHRF B TEMPTRESS 40050 GODWIN, RAY LBYC 16:39:03 16:13:57 3 FIN