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CABO RACE: Not what the travel agent promised

Published on March 24th, 2013

When it comes to offshore distance racing, the prominent California races do a few things right: they are mostly in solid downwind conditions, they are mostly in warm weather, and they most certainly finish in desirable locations. The odd numbered years are the best, with the 800 mile Cabo San Lucas (MEX) race in March providing a good tune-up for the 2,225 mile Los Angeles to Honolulu Transpac race in July.

But Mother Nature makes few guarantees, and the 30 boat fleet that began the Cabo race (March 22-23) are clearly feeling cheated. Thus far the race has been mostly upwind, and mostly in light winds. So bad were the conditions during the first 24 hours that the Express 37 Expression Session, which saw 700 miles to the finish and 100 miles to San Diego, turned hard left to retire.

The leaders favored the inshore route as they exited California, but with the fleet now abreast of the warmer Baja peninsula, everything should get better across the board. Restaurateur John Sangmeister of Gladstone’s Long Beach files this report on Sunday from aboard the Santa Cruz 70 OEX:

“After a promising first seven hours on Saturday, followed by a slow and tortured night, we are again poked out and moving nicely. Now fully 25 hours in to the race we’re a beam of Todos Santos. This morning’s excitement came in the form of a tanker steaming toward us with pace.

“Our first night found us wandering in the barrier zone between on and offshore winds, and just as Commander Weather had cautioned against this course, we paid dearly for our hubris. Now after several changes from drifter Light One, Zero and back, we’ve settled into our 1A and are making 6-7 knots at the mark.

“With the forecast offering little to offset this slow start, we now have two races ahead. The first is the obvious race with our competitors, with the second making flights before Good Friday. We’ve previously experienced trying to clear Customs on Holy Thursday, and one can only imagine the challenge Good Friday presents.

“Our first dinner aboard the mighty OEX found us dining on fillet and lobster tail prepared by Chef Pete Lehmar at Gladstone’s Long Beach. For Sunday night we shall spice things up and seek to move through fleet courtesy of Pete’s Jambalaya. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and there is still fine dining with offshore racing.

“Signing out from the OEX, now 684.4 nm from the finish. Happy Palm Sunday!”

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