Peter Isler: Viva la difference!

Published on March 15th, 2023

There were 27 starters for the 2023 Newport Beach to Cabo San Lucas which had staggered starts on March 10 and 11 for the 800nm course from Newport Beach, CA to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.

While not a record-setting edition, multihull and monohull elapsed time honors were claimed by Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (above) in 2:04:19:55 and Manouch Moshayedi’s Bakewell White 100 RIO 100 in 2:20:31:15, respectively.

Aside from three retirements, all teams finished by March 15 with overall honors coming from the smallest boat class (ORR E) with Dave Moore’s Santa Cruz 52 Westerly taking the prize, followed by Thomas Furlong’s RP52 Vitesse (ORR C) in second, and Roy Disney’s Andrews 68 Pyewacket (ORR B) in third.

Race detailsResultsTracker

Pywacket navigator Peter Isler shares his view as part of Disney’s team:

Peter Isler

What a difference a sailboat makes…

I’ve had the pleasure this winter of sailing with Roy Disney’s Pyewacket team – legendary California based program with a string of previous boats named Pyewacket going back decades. That tradition provides good karma and spawned a culture of success.

Currently Roy Disney is campaigning two 70 footers – the turbo charged Volvo 70 – aka “Pyewacket70” that started out its life going around the world in the Volvo Race as “Telefonica” and “Pyewacket” an Andrews 68 west coast style “sled”.

Aboard the former, we just won the RORC Caribbean 600 last month, and with much the same crew (in the Caribbean we sail with 13 aboard but the west coast boat its manageable with a crew of 10), we dusted off the latter for its first offshore race since the fateful 2019 Transpac when the team rescued the OEX’s crew out of a liferaft after they’d abandon their boat due to a rudder failure.

Although both boats are 70 feet in length, they are vastly different from a speed, ergonomics, and H20 factor. The Volvo 70 is much faster (its handicap says about 35%) with a canting keel, huge sailplan, and modern hull shape and foils. In any good wind, it’s like riding a runaway freight train.

The winning Pyewacket team in Antigua.

With the high speeds on Volvo 70 comes tight apparent wind angles. Even when going downwind, the sails are trimmed like we are going upwind and that means full foul weather gear on deck when there are whitecaps.

Conversely, out here on the Pacific with the more gentrified 70, the Cabo Race offered some nice 24 knot wind speed running conditions with barely any spray coming on the fore deck, much less the cockpit. … lovely t-shirt and shorts conditions.

Down below, the Volvo 70 is all black carbon fiber with not much in the way of amenities.. The sled is also pretty stripped out but it does have an icebox and fridge, enclosed head, and comfortable bunks. Then again, that boat was designed probably 15 years or more before the Volvo 70.

Which is more fun? They are both amazing boats, supported by a top notch program overseen by Roy’s long time sailing manager Robbie Haines. I’m not making any picks – I’m thankful to have the experience of racing to very different designs – viva la difference!

I learned a long time ago that if you keep an open mind, you learn more by sailing on different boats, filing away the experience and lessons so you can filter and apply them at some later date.

Using a motor sports analogy, one is like offroad racing the Baja 1000 on a turbo charged dune buggy driven by Jack Sparrow and the other might be more akin to vintage racing a 1960s Cadillac on a much more forgiving road track with the likes of Torben Grael spinning the wheel..

But regardless of boat, they both observe the traditional Pyewacket fellowship hour on deck, though the wine tastes a lot saltier on the turbo’d Volvo 70!

Race detailsResultsTracker

Monohull elapsed record set by Pyewacket 70 of 01:21:22:53.
Multihull and outright record set by H.L. Enloe’s ORMA 60 Mighty Merloe of 01:16:14:14.

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