Hi, I've done the NOSA race 3 times and actually finished once. First of all, attend one of the free seminars. You'll get lots of good advice.
Race tactics are usually to reach outside at first. You don't want to be anywhere near Dana Point, it is usually (not always) a big hole. I'd say get west of longitude 118 ASAP.
Then go up spin and hold it as long as possible.
The race is won at night. Keep your most committed crew up late. The wind is going to die and try to keep from doing Newport - Ensenada "donuts". Keep working every puff. You have to average 2.5 knots to finish and there is a 1 knot current so keep working those puffs.
The key tactical decision is "inside or outside the Coronados?" Last year we went in and had a huge Saturday afternoon blast right down the coast. Then a Saturday night drift 14 hours for the last 9 miles. Don't turn in too early to Bahia de los Todos Santos. Keep at least 5 to 10 miles out in the last 20 miles.
In a 36 you'll probably finish Saturday night assuming you are not in cruising class. if you are in Cruising Class and want to win, motor as little as possible.
Finishing Sat. night or Sunday morning will mean 2 nights at sea. Make sure you rotate crew and try to get some sleep on Saturday!
Hot food, hot coffee, and minimize alcolhol are very good advice.
I've always stayed at the Hotel Coral and had a very good time there.
I'm doing the Border Run this year, Catalina 25 Indiscipline, 97992. See you on the water.
Doing the San Diego - Ensenada in October followed by the Regatta de los Todos Santos is always fun (more fun than NOSA in a small boat). Hopefully see you in that one.