By Len Bose
April 25, 2013 | 9:32 a.m.
As most of you already know, Friday is the start of the 66th Annual Lexus Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race.
If you are reading my column before 10 a.m., you still have time to head out to the Corona del Mar cliffs to watch the starts from 11 a.m. to noon. If you are looking for the real character of the race, go to the public dock at the end of the Balboa Peninsula. Don't go all the way to the dock's edge because the fisherman will be rather bunched up after all the sailboats have gone by, too close to the dock, and snagged their fishing lines. That's not the type of tight lines they were looking for. What you will see and feel from the dock is the intensity and excitement that this race truly has to offer.
It's easy to spot the difference between the all-out race boats and crews from the weekend warriors who are just out for some good times with family and friends. The all-out race boats will be sleek and move through the water like knives, producing little to no wake.
The crews will be gathered in the cockpit, and everyone will look like attendees at a board meeting dressed in similar-styled suits. Go ahead, wave to them and say "looking good"; they will not respond to your friendly wave and good wishes, but rather will give you a grunt and shake their heads like you are just pointing out the obvious.
If you had a water toy and tried to shower a sleeping sea lion on a moored boat, my bet is you would get the same response.
Most of the fleet fits in the "weekend warrior" category, and there are many different subcategories. The first subcategory I always notice is the one made up of the novice sailors, and God bless them, because that's how our sport grows.
It's easy to spot the novices; they will all have their foul weather gear on before pushing off the dock. Their seasick patches, below their ears, have been placed on by their spouses the night before. Eyes are wide open like they were driving through a police sobriety checkpoint. One can imagine the "Gilligan's Island" theme playing over and over in their heads as they approach the bell buoy at the harbor exit.
Another subcategory is the "win the party" crews. These crews are all in costume, and in past years, I have seen everything from O.J. driving a white Bronco, past presidents, the Rat Pack and Rastafarians.
You should be able to hear them coming down the bay, music blaring, beverages in hand. Make sure you wave to these crews and give them your good wishes; their response is normally a loud "haaaaaaa, whoooooo."
Their boats' watch system, when the crew goes down for some sleep, normally starts earlier for these crews than for other boats, since most of the "win the party" crews are a little slow from the night before and are starting to wonder if that Sausage McMuffin they ate an hour ago was a good idea.
You will also notice the spectators throughout the harbor. One cannot miss Da-Woody, a boating photographer who rides around in a boat that looks like an old woody wagon. Religious folks are always out on the water trying to convince the racers to change their paths. Then blend in all the boats going out the jetty at one time, and you have the Ensenada race, baby!
I will be sailing on the J 109 Linstar, and we have "the band" back together as crew. If I was to place myself into one of the above categories, we would be 50-50 all-out racer and win-the-party boat. I am too old now for the party the night before, and I gave up Sausage McMuffins a long time ago, but that's another story.
Wish me luck again, because it's been working. Last week, we sailed to third place in the Newport Harbor Yacht Club's Ahmanson Cup aboard Linstar. I'd also like to give a little shout-out to my friend Chris Raab, who finished fourth just behind us.
Remember to go to my blog site at lenboseyachts.blogspot.com for an update on the Newport Beach High Point Series.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.