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They're Doubling Up for Newport-to-Ensenada Race

April 27, 2001|MARTIN BECK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

For Chuck Brewer and Carl Swaisgood the Newport-to-Ensenada International Yacht Race, which starts at noon today, is seeming more like the Oakland-to-Ensenada regatta.

They left the San Francisco Bay in Brewer's new 39-foot yacht, Illusian, Sunday night and reached its Lido Isle slip Wednesday evening, giving Brewer and Swaisgood time to prepare for their next challenge: racing to Ensenada double-handed.

Typically a boat Illusian's size would race with a crew of nine. Brewer and Swaisgood will have to do it all, from driving and navigating to putting up and pulling down and trimming sails.

"It's sort of a personal challenge," Swaisgood said.

The Newport Ocean Sailing Assn., the race's organizer, added the double-handed class for the 54th edition of what is billed as the world's largest international yacht race. The double-handed boats will start with their own handicapped classes--there are 27 separate starts--and battle it out in a corrected-time race within the race.

Brewer and Swaisgood are confident they will be in the hunt in the nine-boat double-handed class. They are veterans of many fully-crewed efforts on the Newport-Ensenada course and last summer they won the Crew of 2 Around Catalina with Brewer's old 46-foot boat Heartbeat.

"Double-handed sailing keeps us sharp," Swaisgood said. "It actually makes our team sailing a lot better also."

Racing 125 miles with a two-person crew will be an endurance test. These sailors are prepared for at least a 24-hour tour. Crew members on full-sized crews are able to sleep in shifts. Double-handers must be content with brief naps, if that, said Irvine's Carlos Williams, who will sail with his son Brad on 30-foot Toy Box.

"Managing rest is important," Williams said, "so you are not totally wiped out in the last part of the race."

Dan Rossen of Newport Beach agrees.

"It's a little bit of sleep deprivation," said Rossen, who will be on his 30-foot Problem Child with Jamie Douglas of Huntington Beach. "If it's windy it's not so bad. But the hardest part is staying awake at night when the wind gets light."

The Newport-Ensenada race is usually marked by calm conditions at night, something that Pete Peters and his fiancee Denyse McElroy on 34-foot Traveler are not accustomed to. In January they moved to Newport Coast from Sausalito, where they often sailed on San Francisco Bay in 25 knots of wind.

Peters said teamwork is crucial when there are two on the team.

"It's something of a dance," Peters said. "and you have to know which way you are going and what your partner's doing or it can get really confusing."

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* RELATED STORY: B1

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