Records Fall in Newport Ensenada Race

The 2016 Newport Ensenada Race saw new records set on the course and an impressive fleet taking on the 125 mile sprint.
Newport Ensenada Race
Orion, the MOD70 based in the San Francisco Bay area and owned by Tom Siebel, broke the fastest elapsed time record. Newport Ensenada Race

The 69th Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race was more of a stampede along the 125-mile course, with records being trampled and lots of firsts. Sure, there was much elation and celebration when two monster trimarans broke an 18-year old multihull record, and again when four Maxi’s broke the monohull record. But there is more.

Multiple-time N2E winner Bill Gibbs collected three trophies, adding to his collection of at least seven that he’s won since 2002. However, for the first time it was not for winning aboard the 53-foot catamaran Afterburner. This time, Gibbs sailed Wahoo, an almost 47-foot Schionning GF 1400. It’s really a lightweight cruising boat, he said. It’s got a cabin, a salon and beds, he explained moments before picking up trophies for Best Corrected, All Boats; Best Corrected, Orca and Best Corrected, Catamaran.

But like two record breakers reported earlier, the race did not start with a mad dash. “For the first two hours we were the third slowest of the fleet in light winds of only 7 knots, he said. “Then the wind came up and we smiled. It was perfect conditions for us, absolutely perfect.”


If you thought you saw Afterburner start the race Friday (Apr 22), you did. Its new owner started but reportedly broke a bowsprit along the way and did not finish.

“I miss that one,” said Gibbs pointing to the Stein-Cross Trophy for Best Corrected Trimaran that Chris Slagerman of King Harbor Yacht Club got for his race aboard Uni. “A great race,” said Slagerman. “Very fast, two jibes and we were directly in.”

Gibbs will certainly have stories to share with fellow board member Peter Bretschger at the next NOSA meeting.


Bretschger claimed two trophies for his J120 Adios, for Best Corrected PHRF-D and Best Corrected J120. “I couldn’t be more elated for my crew,” said Bretschger. One of which is only 14 years-old. “It was our fastest race ever. 15 hours!” he said. In 17 years racing N2E, he’d only placed second one other time.

Senior NOSA officials don’t believe that two board members have ever won in the same race before much less claiming a total of five trophies. And nobody can remember the last time all boats were accounted for by 3 p.m. Saturday.

“We learned that there is life here Saturday afternoons,” said Dick McNish, who collected two trophies. The nearly 89-year-old recalled the year they sailed across the finish line at 10:45 a.m., Sunday – 15 minutes before cut off time. This year, the namesake of the McNish Classic Yacht Race and crew arrived aboard Cheerio II, a 1931 wooden yawl, before 8 a.m., Saturday. Of the 17 or 18 times he’s sailed N2E, this was the first time winning his class too. Crewmember Scott Harrison Jr. joked that at 50, he was the youngest aboard, but finally old enough to sail with the McNish team and alongside his 81-year-old father, Scott Sr. The other crewmembers were 60, 58, 54, and 88 years-old, not including McNish.


“It is kind of fun that we still get to do this at our age,” McNish said. “This is really something none of us will ever forget.” They’ll be back next year when he’ll be a month from turning 90. He and the crew then danced their way across the patio turned dance floor to catch the bus home.

David Nelson, of Kenora, Ontario, Canada, has not been able to get his ID 35, Kite home since he bought it in Newport Beach three years ago. He and his regular 6-man Canadian crew, including his son Michael, decided to take it on a race before transporting it home to Lake of the Woods, in Northwest Ontario. Their 2014 N2E was super windy and squally.

newport ensenada
The skipper of the all women’s boat Pole Dancer will be taking home the Caroline Starr trophy from the 2016 race. Sharon Green / Ultimate Sailing

“For lake sailors it was really wild. So we decided to come back for more,” Nelson said. In 2015, they won their class and came in second in Monohulls. Despite shaving two hours off their time, they only placed second in their class this year. “It was our fastest time ever; we hit 18.2 knots. It’s a big deal, probably our max,” he said. “We have to come back for the 70th.”


Jon Gardner, who has sailed on many boats on many N2E’s, picked up two trophies on behalf of Andrew Rasdal’s Valkyrie, a Bolt 37. The 25-year North Sails employee said this was absolutely the best Ensenada race ever. They won the President of USA Trophy for Best Corrected PHRF and Best Corrected PHRF-C, the Newport Harbor Chamber of Commerce Trophy.

“Under a full moon, we hit 28 knots of breeze and set a new record for the best boat speed. We’ll remember it for the rest of our lives,” Gardner said. He credited and Rasdal for putting together a fantastic group of guys; “an unbelievable crew.”

Pole Dancer skipper Terri Manok, will be taking the Caroline Starr trophy back to Oceanside Yacht Club. Many of her all-women crew dedicated the race to veteran sailor Sue Senescu, who died unexpectedly last year. “I learned a lot from her,” Monok said and called her crew, “my dream team, the best I could have ever hoped for. The team agreed they were in great company while reviewing all the names of groundbreaking women sailors etched onto the side of the trophy.

Chris Macy reported that his crew worked incredibly well together to sail very fast. On behalf of Medicine Man’s skipper Bob Lane, Macy collected the President of Mexico trophy for Best Corrected Maxi. “It was a lot of work, but so much fun when we finished,” Macy said. “We stuck to our game plan and executed it well.” Medicine Man was the third Maxi to break the old monohull record. “It’s a blessing to beat the record, especially in a 63-foot boat when the record was set in an 80, and to bring the trophy home to Long Beach Yacht Club.” he said.

Ben Mitchell, who sailed on Pyewacket with Roy Pat Disney, drove back to collect the teams’ second place mug. The first Pyewacket set an N2E record 10-12 years ago, he said. Magnitude 80 broke their record by 7 minutes. “It’s nice to eclipse that record, Mitchell said. “It was really fun; conditions were ideal. We’ll be back next year.

Claiming the Lahaina Yacht Club Trophy for Best Elapsed Time, PHRF, was first time N2E racer Steve Meheen on Aszhou, the 63-foot Reichel Pugh that set the new monohull record of 9:35:34.

“We were blessed by the Wind Gods with good sailing weather, and our fantastic crew from MisFits Racing that sailed the Aszhou well again,” said Meheen. Look for the boat at other West Coast races and back to N2E next year.

Charlie Ogletree, tactician/helmsman for Friday’s race thanked skipper/helmsman/owner Tom Siebel and the entire team: Zan Drejes Hogan Beatie, Peter Isler, Damian Foxall and Paul Allen for working so hard and pushing Orion to its limits.

“It was an honor to win the event for the second time in 3 years and breaking the record was an unexpected bonus,” Ogletree said. He graciously thanked the Mighty Merloe team for the great competition and John Sangmeister for getting Tritium to the race. Perhaps the record-breaking run will inspire others to get into the big multihulls on the West Coasts, he said. “Fast is fun!