The Harbor Report: Fixing up for the races

Spring is approaching, and the boats have returned to Newport Harbor. With this year's Islands Race, Cabo and Transpac all on the horizon, a large number of race boats have gathered here in Newport Beach for their annual maintenance.

The most interesting megayacht is not in town for our local offshore races, but it sure appears it can run with the big dogs. The 77-foot Sparkman & Stephens-designed Aandeel (formerly known as Sleighride), now 82 feet, has received a refit, with five feet added to its overall length. Up-and-coming yacht designer Adam Voorhees received his first contract to design the refit. Performing the refit was our own Westerly Marine from Santa Ana, with owner Lynn Bowser directing his crew at Newport Harbor Shipyard. When I approached the yacht, Lynn gave me a warm welcome and took a couple of minutes to introduce the boat to me before he had to get back to work applying the keel to the boat. According to a good friend of mine, the boat was lifted to its maximum height with the shipyard's travel lift; they had just four inches to spare above the keel height to the bottom of the boat when applying the keel.

For those who have not heard of Westerly Marine, they have long been one of the world's best custom-boat builders and have been able to stay in business in Costa Mesa until about 10 years ago, when they moved up to a larger location in Santa Ana. They did the work on Windward Passage's keel change and have produced a couple of Morrelli & Melvin 65-foot cruising catamarans over the last two years. I also noticed local Harbor 20 sailor Len Connelly working on this project. Len has been working for Westerly Marine for close to 20 years and plays a big part in producing some of the world's best yachts.

My understanding is that the original owner wanted an ultra-light boat, exceedingly fast, that could blow the hatches off any racing boat. The new owner, who lives in the Santa Barbara area and will keep the boat in the Ventura area, wants the same and more. Come on by the shipyard and take a look; she is truly something to behold.

While at the Newport Harbor Shipyard, you will notice all of the activity to some of Southern California's best racing boats getting ready for the above-listed races. The one-of-a-kind Checkmate was in the yard getting ready for Cabo. Word on the street is the Newport Harbor Yacht Club boys are "putting the band back together," and the crew list reads like a who's-who. Can't wait to hear the stories from this run. Other boats in the yard are Pendragon VI, getting some work done to its mast; Orange Coast College's Katana, painting its bottom; and the gorgeous Santa Cruz 50 Adrenalin, also getting some work done to its bottom. The Santa Cruz 52 Sin Duda is in town from Chicago this summer for the Cabo and Transpac Race. Mirage, a Santa Cruz 70, is in the yard for some mast work. Two J/120s are also in the yard. It appears the fleet is getting locked and loaded for the upcoming sailing season.

Speaking of locked and loaded, the first race of the Newport High-Point Series has been completed with the American Legion Yacht Club running the Midwinter Regatta a couple of weeks ago. The first boat out of the blocks this year is John Szalay's Peterson 34, Pussycat, with 11 points, followed by Roy Jones' J/133, Tango, with 10 points and Peter Bretschger J/120, Adios, with nine. The next high-point race will be Balboa Yacht Club 66 Series beginning March 16.

This weekend, I am racing my Harbor 20 in the NHYC Schock Regatta and am also planning on attending Peter Haynes' boat handling and sail trim seminar March 9 at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club. I have to thank Peter for that eighth-place finish in my first Harbor 20 A fleet regatta; by attending his rules seminar, this boat handling and sail trim should get me into the top five. It's open to anyone; take the time and you will be glad you did. For full results of this year's Newport High-Point Series and interior photos of Aandell, go to my blog site at

Sea ya.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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