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Newport-Ensenada: Any Advice for a First-Timer?

2925 Views 10 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  CGMojo
I am entering the Newport to Ensenada race for the first time with my Jeanneu 36i coastal cruiser and a crew of 5-6. The boat has a traditional mainsail with 2 slab reefs, a 130% roller-furling genoa, and a crusing spinnaker with sock. I'm considering entering the Cruising w/Gennaker class to get more experience with the asym spinnaker.

Tactically, I plan to made for a waypoint 3-4 miles outside the Coronado Islands, then see what the winds conditions are from there to Ensenada.

Any suggestions or advice?
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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.
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Good Advice

Roger all, thanks!
We used a rotating system this summer that seemed to be quite effective for keeping alert people on watch. Instead of dividing into two watches, we wrote up a list of crew members, alternating between ones with more and less experience. We started out with the two at the top of the list on watch: one on "standby" in the cockpit, and the other at the wheel. An hour later, the third person on the list went on "standby" in the cockpit. The person who had been "standby" moved to the wheel, and the person at the wheel went off watch to sleep. Each hour, the next person listed moves up, and so on, until the list re-starts. With five of us aboard, we all managed to get good sleep over a three day sail from Bermuda to New York, and have good performance, with all hands available for tricky maneuvers. Depending upon the number of crew you have, you could have three or more "on" at the same time, if you wanted. It seemed easier to get used to than the Swedish watch system we used for the race down, and kept us moving quickly, even though we weren't actually racing on the
way back.
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Good Advice

PaulK, thanks for the advice. I am thinking along the same lines.
I will have four, maybe five, with two of the crew fully qualified to run the boat and two or three with less experience. I plan to have two on watchand bring a fresh crewman up every two hours. The "watch captains" alternate, as do the newbies. The first watch captain stands a short two hour watch, then everyone gets four on / four off for the 1.5 to 2 day run.

The only down side to this is that someone is rattling around down below every two hours, but on a 36 you pretty much hear everything that's going on anyway.

We plan on going offshore a bit for better breezes and perhaps flying an asymetric spinnaker. I'm thinking if a spinnaker gype is required, we could do it at the watch change when we have three people on deck.
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When you're bringing fresh crew up on deck fairly frequently, as you suggest, you probably won't lose much (if any) by waiting for the third hand. You'll want to make sure the wind or course has actually changed enough to warrant the gybe. Of course, if you believe all the ad copy, the helmsman's supposed to be able to gybe an asym singlehanded.
More good advice

We can gybe the asym with two total crew, but single-handed? I doubt it!
Went to an excellent pre-race seminar last night at the Dana Point YC, lots of great info! Looking forward to the race!
Hey mojo, good luck!
Stay outside,This will be my seventh ensenada race.We run three watches and don't rotate crew.The skipper feels the teamwork would be smoother.
Have fun,I've finished at five am. sat. mourning once on a shock 35.
Again go outside unless it's really blowing,If it is rumb line it.

bobkirk40 -
Please define "really blowing". Around San Diego, really blowing means 12-15.
Sorry,That trip it was 12 to 15 all night but thats rare,out of the six I've done we had wind thru the night twice.normally it's very light.

Roger all, sir, and muchos gracias!
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