featured graphic for N2E, Newport to Ensenada yacht race, during COVID-19

73rd Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race returns Friday

Nearly 170 boats will cross the start line of the 73rd Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race, April 23 off the Balboa Pier. From the start, nearly 120 boats will make the 125 nm trek to Ensenada; 20 will take the sprint course to Dana Point and 40 will head around the Coronado Islands on the extended San Diego course.

Thanks to the reduction of COVID restrictions and with the Mexican Navy offering landing assistance, sailors will safely be able to disembark and enjoy Ensenada.

After a night of competitive sailing fun, that is.

The Disney Family’s latest incarnation of Pyewacket, a Volvo 70, will make its N2E debut. After smashing the elapsed time record in Newport Harbor Yacht Club’s “Newport to Cabo San Lucas Race” last month, the crew will no doubt be looking to put another notch on its keel by beating the current monohull record of 9:35:34.

But they’ll have to beat Damon Guizot’s Zephyrus (a Reichel Pugh 77 and the 2018 winner of the Lahaina Yacht Club Trophy for Best Elapsed Time – ALL PHRF) and Compadres, owned by Compadres LLC, a modified Andrews 77 with a storied N2E history as Alchemy 77, (2004 first monohull to finish, first overall ULDB division) looking to make its triumphant return to the course – along with six other seasoned contenders in the UL Maxi Class.

Another boat making a celebratory return to the course is the Richley Family’s 39-year-old Choate 48 Amante, a multiple-time trophy-winner, that has only missed three N2E’s. “Amante and N2E have definitely been a family affair from the beginning with Mom, Dad, and three brothers participating since 1982,” said Bud Richley. “Now Dad has passed and Mom does not race at 95, but she still prepares all of our food.”

Jerry Fiat, who made waves in 2019 by entering the first-ever AC45 (an Oracle America’s Cup practice boat) has entered Taniwha, a Farrier 32 SRX (folding) trimaran. The New Zealand-built boat previously sailed N2E finishing in under 10 hours after being waylaid by a whale. Once again, world-renowned sailor, yacht designer, and industry influencer Pete Melvin will sail with Fiat. Melvin’s 30-foot multihull Mama Tried won first place in the ORCA Class, for best corrected time for a trimaran and the coveted Tommy Bahama Trophy for the best overall corrected time in 2014.

While all eyes were on the AC 45 in 2019, Steve Dunlap’s Some Tuesday, a Lagoon 450S, got off to her customary slow start but sailed to her second win on corrected time in the ORCA class. Despite encountering some adversity in 2018, including a lost gooseneck pin causing the boom to detach at 3 a.m., a torn spinnaker, and a lost drone, skipper Steve Dunlap and crew will return to the start with an adjusted handicapped and a lot more experience.

“We’re not hard-core racers, I bought the boat to have fun, but we take the race seriously,” he said. Other than defending their two-year winning streak the goal this year is to make no mistakes while still having fun.

“There’s a misconception about yacht racing, boat racing, in that some think it’s stuffy, blue blazer boring,” said Dunlap. “But sailing is a fun passion-based hobby, in which everyone has a story about overcoming adversity. Sailing is really about solving problems; things break as boats do and you figure it out.” But more than that he said, “It is sitting with a crew member at the helm in the middle of the night, 30 miles offshore, freezing, talking about life, watching the moon; man taking on machine and nature, the whole thing is magical.”

Last year, race organizers, the Newport Ocean Racing Association made the difficult decision to cancel the race for the first time in its esteemed history. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and out of an abundance of caution for the organization’s volunteers and numerous practical uncertainties the race was rescheduled. Last October, NOSA announced its commitment to holding the 2021 race.

As restrictions have been lifted, options for social activities have increased. The annual Yachtsmen’s Luncheon and pre-race dinner at Bahian Corinthian Yacht Club, albeit without the infamous crowds, are being held. Plans for Sunday’s trophy ceremonies at the festive Hotel Coral and Marina are still being determined pending the number of revelers and in coordination with our host city’s guidelines. In light of Ensenada’s restrictions on large gatherings Sunday afternoon’s awards ceremony, always joyful and celebratory, may be conducted in shifts.

This article was released by the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race.