N2E 76 Sails 2 Courses April 27

N2E 76 Sails 2 Courses April 27

N2E 76 Sails 2 Courses April 27


18/04/2024 - 09:00

The 76th Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race will depart from its multi-line start April 26, 2024. A multitude of racers and 145 boats that keep N2E a Southern California yacht racing favorite, will take to the 125mn course bound for the Hotel Coral and Marina.

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.”

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.

Two skippers are coming from Oregon, two from Mexico and one from Arizona, one from Ontario Canada, (for the eighth time), and multiple-time winner Taniwha, owned by Utah’s Jerry Fait.

The 32-foot Ferrier is returning in hopes of a back-to-back ORCA-class win. Along with Fiat, the boat will be crewed by Pete Melvin, Mat Bryant, and Frank Dryer. The highly experienced crew hopes to claim the elusive Overall Corrected honors. However, competition is going to be tough this year, Fiat said.

One of those newcomers, David Schumann’s Bottle Rocket, a Seacart 30, is expected to do well. He predicts Bottle Rocket will have an advantage in light air. “It’s going to be an interesting head-to-head contest,” said Fiat.

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 2 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.

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 Sunday, April 29. The seventeen sailors who chose the shorter course to San Diego will celebrate victories on Sunday at Silverlake Yacht Club.

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