Newport to Ensenada Race: 21-year-old sailor hopes for robust winds throughout event

Peter Sangmeister, 21, will be sailing on the Taniwha.
Peter Sangmeister, 21, was part of the crew on the Taniwha, a Farrier 32 SRX, in the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race in the ORCA class on Friday.
(,Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)
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You could say sailing runs in the Sangmeister family.

Peter Sangmeister’s been sailing since he was 2, he thinks. His mother, Sarah, has participated in at least three Transpacific races from Los Angeles to Hawaii. His father, John, has completed at least six or more of those same races, and Peter’s done two. They’re all gearing up for his third on the family’s Andrews Dencho 68 sailboat, the Rock N Roll.

“Both of my parents and grandparents have been incredibly supportive in getting into the sport of sailing, and I’ve learned a lot from the people that they’ve put around me, so I’ve now branched out to racing against them, specifically for this race,” said Sangmeister, who lives in Long Beach. He was a co-helmsman on the Taniwha, a 32-foot Farrier 32 SRX owned by Jerry Fiat.

The Taniwha won overhaul honors in 2021, according to Newport Ocean Sailing Assn. spokeswoman Laurie Morrison.


This year’s Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race, which got underway Friday, is marking its 75th anniversary. Launched in 1948, the event has missed just one year, 2020, due to the pandemic.

On Thursday, Sangmeister was still checking the Taniwha to make sure it was ship-shape for the race Friday. By his account, the crew of four had been talking for some time about participating in the Newport to Ensenada race, but a few key players were unavailable to participate this year. This was of some concern because a boat of the Taniwha’s size needs “smart people and people who knew what they were doing because you can mess stuff up pretty quickly,” Sangmeister said.

Peter Sangmeister, 21, loads the main sail on to the Taniwha, a Farrier 32 SRX, on Thursday.
Peter Sangmeister, 21, loads the main sail on to the Taniwha, a Farrier 32 SRX, on Thursday in Long Beach.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

They finally made the call to join the race on April 12, just under two weeks before the race began, and officially entered on April 13. They readied the Taniwha, then did two test runs on the water last weekend.

Sangmeister said though both he and his father are entered in this race, the two aren’t necessarily competing against each other. They are in two different brackets, based on their respective boat sizes. Still, he hoped the Taniwha will beat out the Rock N Roll overall, though that might depend on the weather.

“[The Taniwha] arguably, in certain conditions, is the fastest boat in the fleet by a good bit and so we’re hoping to capitalize on its speed and get to Ensenada ahead of our competitors,” Sangmeister said. “Unfortunately, the race course is looking quite light on breeze, so it’ll be a bit of a long slog to Mexico, but we’re going to try our best and hopefully we do quite well. We’ll also see if we finish.”

He joked, “If it turns into a 24-hour float off, we might be pulling the pin on that.”

Sangmeister noted his dad’s Rock N Roll relies on a lighter and more moderate breeze while the Taniwha requires a heavier breeze to move through the water at a good clip.

Peter Sangmeister, 21, works on the main sail on Thursday.
Peter Sangmeister, 21, works on the main sail on Thursday in Long Beach.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Sangmeister said he hopes the Rock and Roll crew beats everyone except his own, of course.

“It’s different racing against him, but I also haven’t really thought about racing him. I guess because we’re in such different styles of boats, it doesn’t necessarily register because we are in such massively different classes,” Sangmeister said. “We’ll end up on the same starting line, but we’re not necessarily racing each other, we’re racing against the other boats. We don’t even start together.”

He raced with his father in the Newport to Ensenada race in 2016, but their vessel had a major breakage near the Mexican border that forced them to turn back to Newport Beach. The 21-year-old sailor hasn’t attempted the race since, but is hoping this year is the year.

“We’ll play it by ear. The weather forecast is looking slightly better, which is good. A couple days, it looked like no one was getting to Mexico in a timely matter. We’re hoping for the best,” Sangmeister said.