August 28 – Newport Beach
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.
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.
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.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.
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’.Â Â