The race starts with a fiesta and it ends with several. For many competitors, the festivities continue right through the interim, with the alcohol flowing all the way through their journey to the finishing post. There are also plenty of side-shows. On the eve of this weekend's event, in Newport, there was a 'I Want to Be a Chihuahua Parade', featuring the competitors' dogs in fancy dress.
The annual Newport-to-Ensenada International Yacht Race has long been to competitive sailing what Olympic swimming would be if Michael Phelps shared the pool with a gaggle of guys in inner tubes towing a keg of beer.
Mike Anton, LA Times
Yet there is a serious side too. One winner, Dennis Connor, even mused that it might be more difficult to complete than the America's Cup.
This year, 175 boats entered the race, yet only 167 actually made it off the starting line. Of those, a mere 112 reached Ensenada. While a steady breeze blew them down the coast of the Californias, the crews had to battle against it once they reached Todos Santos.
The difficulty is that no-one knows what to expect. The wind can change direction at any time over the Pacific Ocean and these people are relying upon their sails. Skill plays its part, but so does sheer luck. This is why the race is so popular. Amateurs have an equal chance of winning against the professionals.
This year's winners were:
1. Afterburner (Tennant Bladerunner 52), Bill Gibbs, Pierpont Bay Yacht Club, elapsed time 17 hours 8 minutes 53 seconds, corrected time 22:33:05.
2. Stars and Stripes (Farr 60), Dennis Conner, San Diego YC, ET 18:28:25, CT 20:40:11.
3. Alchemy (Dencho 70), Per Peterson, Oceanside YC, ET 19:20:23, CT 22:16:05.
4. Medicine Man (Andrews 63), Bob Lane, Long Beach YC, ET 19:24:13, CT 22:51:17.
5. Peligroso (Kernan 70), Lorenz Berho, Mexico City, ET 19:45:33, CT 24:02:49.
6. It's OK (Andrews 50), Tres Gordos LLC, ET 19:48:09, CT 21:47:23.
7. Taxi Dancer (Reichel/Pugh 68), Dick Compton/Jim Yabsley/Tom Parker, Santa Barbara YC, ET 20:28:13, CT 23:23:55.
8. Relentless (Santa Cruz 52T), Durant/Shew, Long Beach YC, ET 20:55:19, CT 21:45:31.
9. Stealth Chicken (Perry 56), Tim Beatty, ET 20:58:25, CT 22:07:27.
10. Piranha (Farr 40), David Voss, California YC, ET 21:05:45, CT 21:18:18.
Once all have reached the Pacific town of Ensenada, then the party can really begin. There are the award ceremonies, but there is also a carnival atmosphere throughout the town. The Bahia Hotel is the centerpoint and the place where many of the competitors will have stayed the night. It is here that Ensenada will have laid on its brightest and best entertainment, while the food piles up and the alcohol flows some more.
The Newport of Ensenada Yacht Race (N2E to those in the know) is billed as something that you have to 'do' once in your life. Watching it, and participating in the events around it, is a lot of fun, but experiencing being in that starting line is something else. It will run again this time next year. Plenty of time to get your boat and crew together. Good luck!