It's Ketch as Ketch Can...

...For some, the Newport-to-Ensenada is a laid-back race known for its crazy parties both in Newport and in Mexico.

Others are in it to win it. Baker said 50 to 75 boats are crewed by serious sailors, with his major competitor being Stark Raving Mad.

"It's a nice little sprint race," he said. "Anyone who wants to race a boat in Southern California, it's just kind of one you have to do."

Baker also enjoys the spectacle of the start.
"It's mass confusion. There are a lot of boats that this is the only race they ever do," he said. "You're not going to find any race that has that number of participants, anywhere. That's what makes it what it is."

Haupt has some advice for newcomers: Don't attempt what he's trying to do. "Mother Nature can be very unforgiving," he said. "It's 'Plan for the worst, hope for the best.' "

Haupt, who has done the race several times and has experienced sailors on his boat, including partner Steve McLaren, will be taking his chances aboard Fantasma de Navidad, (translated Ghost of Christmas), a 36-footer built in 1974 that they bought online in February.

He will be wearing a medal depicting St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. Also onboard will be an empty Corona beer bottle autographed by singer Jimmy Buffett. The talismans are intended to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.

Haupt, who refers to the boat as "the little schooner that could," said part of the thrill is fixing up the eBay gem for competition.

It's been sunk twice.

They had to rebuild the entire cockpit. They had to send away to England to get a starter. The boom was stripped to bare wood, and they gave the boat a new varnish job and a fresh coat of paint.

"Our limited experience with the boat says it's a strong and well-built boat," said Haupt of Imperial Beach. "So far, I'm impressed by it. But that can change in 30 seconds."

Haupt hopes to show that sailing isn't just for the wealthy and that if would-be mariners want a boat fervently enough, they can find one.

"I do hope people are not turned away thinking they could never afford a yacht," Haupt said.

"I'm living proof that you can find a boat."

John Haupt's survival guide:

T-shirts highlighting local businesses in Mexico supporting the crew
Granola and fruit, sandwiches for lunch
Beer: they try not to drink more than two to avoid getting tired. "It's not fair if people get tired and others have to pick up their slack. And we don't want anybody falling overboard."
Bubble gum and duct tape for repairs .

By Laylan Connelly and Niyaz Pirani
The Orange County Register, 24 April 2008
Editor's Note: Hmmmm... Purchase a "bargain" boat on eBay and then spend many, many hours and dollars rebuilding her. Seems like just building my dream boat from Glen-L plans and patterns would be much more efficient and less costly...

Speaking of which, the beautiful, lightweight & sleek Glen-L ENSENDADA 25 is designed for both comfort and performance. In its first Newport-Ensenada Yacht Race the original ENSENADA 25 placed 2nd in PHRF Class-G ahead of over 50 other boats, and also beat winning boats in Classes C, D, E, F, & H on corrected time.

Newport to Ensenada Race Update...

Dateline Newport Beach - Sailors again started the Newport-to-Ensenada race under moderate winds Friday, meaning this will likely not be a record-breaking race.

About 380 sailors set sail Friday afternoon for the 125-mile trek to Mexico for the 61st annual Newport-to-Ensenada race, called the "world's largest international yacht race."

Southwest winds were clocking about 6 knots at noon, said race spokesman Rich Roberts. Many of the bigger boats will be crossing the finish line sometime during the night.

Richard Maure, a member of the Seal Beach Yacht Club speaking by cell phone about two hours after the race started, said conditions should be better than last year, and the entire fleet is heading about 10 to 15 miles offshore.

"It's a good, typical year," he said. "We're hoping it stays like this all night long."

John Haupt's eBay boat - which he bought in February for $780 - broke down on the way up to Newport late Thursday night. He planned to unofficially join other boats as they passed San Diego, if he could.

Stars and Stripes on the Sea: A man photographs
boats while cruising Friday afternoon.