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Pyewacket Sets Catalina to Newport Record

August 28 - Newport Beach

Pyewacket as seen in the race to Ship Rock and back, her shortened canting keel working hard. The keel's name is Willie. When it breaks the surface, it's known as a 'free Willie'.

The MaxZ86 Pyewacket, which Roy Disney donated to the Orange Coast School of Sailing, but next year will be chartering back for one or more Mexican races and yet one more TransPac, set a new elapsed time record for Long Point on Catalina Island to the Newport Pier of 1 hour and 32 minutes. At least we think it's a record. Those aboard who should know things like that - Costa Mesa-based pro sailor Keith Kilpatrick, long time Newport racer Craig Fletcher, and the School of Sailing's Brad Avery - couldn't remember a boat having a faster time. But Avery hedged his claim a little. "You'll probably get a couple of people who will write in and say they've done it faster on a multihull or sailboard, but I'm pretty comfortable that this is the monohull record."

The believed record was set on the third day of the Newport Harbor and Balboa YC's Long Point Race Week, a terrific event that saw the 40+ boat fleet enjoying a race over to Long Point, a second race up to Ship Rock and back, and then back to Newport. More on that event and the attraction it would have to Northern California racers in the Wednesday 'Lectronic.

Having rounded Ship Rock, Pyewacket works her way downwind under the asymmetrical spinnaker.

Assuming the White's Landing to Newport Pier course is 24 miles, Pyewacket averaged about 16 knots. The amazing thing about this is that while the wind was consistent all the way across, it never blew more than 16 knots. Pyewacket had no trouble sailing faster than the wind most of the time, peaking out with a high of 19+ knots on a close reach.

Pyewacket was given a real battle by Doug Baker's Long Beach-based Andrews 80 Magnitude, a boat that's never really gotten her due. A somewhat less complicated and slightly shorter boat than Pyewacket, she was only a short distance to lee of the bigger boat for about half the crossing, at which point Pyewacket hoisted her #3 asymmetrical, a brutally strong Cuben fiber sail needed to stay high. Magnitude had left her similar sail - they go for about $50,000 - back in the container ashore, and therefore fell further down the rest of the way.

Doug Baker's Magnitude 80 gives Pyewacket corrected time fits, particularly in light air.

This was the first time we'd sailed aboard Pyewacket, and we were surprised at what an absolute beast of a boat she is. That she could be so well sailed by a mostly amateur sailing school team, which was assembled after a call for tryouts on Scuttlebutt, is a tribute to both the absolute dedication of that crew and the supervision of the likes of Kilpatrick, Hogan Beattie, Fletcher, and Avery.

On most boats, a reach from Catalina to Newport would involve setting one sail and getting the most out of it. That's not how you do things at the top of the racing game. There were probably six or seven sail changes in Pyewacket's 92-minute crossing, and two trips to near the top of the 125-ft mast.

It takes a special person to want to go to the top of the 125-ft mast when the boat is surging along at 18 knots.

Changing sails is many times harder than it sounds, as they weigh hundreds of pounds, are like wrestling with alligators, and must be dragged up on the deck of the pitching boat and laid out in position for setting. Once this is done, the afterguard usually calls for a different sail to be brought on deck and put into position. You don't ask questions when you're part of the crew, you just do what you're told. If you didn't absolutely love it, you'd never do a second race.

And who would be the bowman, probably having to do more physical work than anyone else on the boat? There wasn't one. There was, however, a bow woman in the person of 29-year-old Ashley Perrin of Mill Valley. Although not unusually large or strong looking, Perrin was an absolute monster on the bow, relentlessly giving every ounce of her physical strength to accomplish the many jobs she had to do. It was something to see. We'll have more on Perrin in a future issue of Latitude 38.

Ashley, the bow woman, goes horizontal for the cause.
Photos Latitude/Richard

As Pyewacket crossed the finish line at 14 knots and co-skipper Fletcher jumped overboard and swam to the race committee boat to resume his duties as race chairman, the sailing school's Avery remarked on what a tremendous impact Disney's donation had made to their program. The minute we entered the jetty, we could see why. There was a school of sailing launches overseeing a flock of students in Lido 14s, and as we moved up the harbor, a seemingly countless number of the school's Shields being sailed around the bay. No matter what day you visit Newport, you see evidence of the thousands of people, of all income brackets and all physical abilities, who get to enjoy the ocean each year because of the school's programs. If there's a better or more well run such program in the country, we're not aware of it, and it survives on the generosity of the likes of Roy Disney. On behalf of everyone, a very heartfelt 'thank you'.

- latitude / rs


Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Was a Blast

August 25 - San Francisco Bay

Howie Hamlin's skiff jousts its way past Steve Sylvester on his formula class windsurfer on the way to the finish.

Take some of the fastest downwind sailing crafts on the planet, wind them up like matchbox cars and watch them go! That was the theme for the 8th Annual Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Regatta held Friday on the Bay, which pits kiteboarders, windsurfers and skiffs against each other on a simple, if not easy, course between the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. No records were broken because of a stiff ebb that was running, but it was still like riding a runaway coach down a mountain with a team of 100 horses in front of you.

Jeff Kafka and his yellow kite. High-tech designs and finely-tuned skills propelled kiters Kafka and Anthony Chavez to take first and second place overall respectively.
Photos Erik Simonson / www.h2oshots.com

After my ninth place finish, watching the rest of the fleet coming in on my heels was an amazing site. The biggest kudos have to go to the kiters who've made enormous leaps in progress in their abilities and designs over the past few years. It's an honor to share the line with them as well as the skiffs in this amazing race. Special thanks to Ronstan for their sponsorship and the St. Francis YC for running the race. Preliminary results can be found at www.stfyc.org.

- steve bodner

Italian Sets New World Record

August 28 - Belvedere

After more than 62 days at sea, Alessandro di Benedetto passed under the Golden Gate on August 11 to become the first person to sail non-stop from Yokohama to San Francisco singlehanded on a catamaran less than 20-ft, a record which has been ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

One World, a "non-habitable" 19-ft plywood sport cat, at San Francisco YC nearly a full two weeks after setting a world record.
Photo Latitude/LaDonna

This isn't the first record set by the 35-year-old French/Italian adventurer. In 2002, he set the WSSRC record for the first singlehanded Atlantic crossing in a sport cat. His Web site, www.alessandrodibenedetto.net, discusses his preparation and reasons for undertaking such passages: "This exploit requires a psychophysics preparation to a very high standard and the use of the latest technologies. The objective is a successful crossing with resultant media attention and the diffusion of a message of Peace and for the protection of the environment."

- latitude / ld

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