Virgen's View: Rose delivers at luncheon

The water can be a calming presence for a sailor sometimes. Andy Rose surely found solace as a young sailor when he was 10 in Newport Beach.

His father, Robert, died of a heart attack at age 48.

Andy's mother, Lucy, entered young Andy in the junior sailing program at Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, which at the time rented a small space from Balboa Yacht Club.

Andy loved it. He found escape, some fun and eventually his life.

"She just wanted something for me to do during the summer after my dad had died," said Andy, 61, a co-owner of It's OK, a high-performance Andrews 50. "Unfortunately for her it kept me busy more nights and days than she had ever intended."

Five years later, Andy entered his first Newport to Ensenada race.

Wednesday, he was the keynote speaker during the Yachtman's Luncheon at Newport Harbor Yacht Club. There he was talking about his first race to Ensenada, talking about the fun and telling racers how to approach certain areas for the race that starts on Friday near Balboa.

Andy didn't talk about his childhood, or his father's death, during his presentation, that featured power-point and jokes, some that can't be for print.

Afterward, he could talk about growing up in Newport Beach, about what his mother meant to him and his love for Corona del Mar High, where he graduated in 1968 before going on to Stanford.

"There were some incredible teachers there," Andy said of CdM. "Life-changing."

He referred to his mother as a great lady who was very encouraging and supportive of his pursuit to become a sailor.

The CdM teachers had a great impact on Andy's life, but sailing also changed his life.

"I've been all over the world," Andy said. "I've been to places I never would have been. I have friends in so many countries. It's a very intense sport. When you sail with somebody across an ocean or something like that you develop a friendship that you might not really develop in real life in years."

Andy entered his first Newport to Ensenada race in 1966 on a little boat called, "Sally." When he reached Ensenada it was then he discovered Hussong's Cantina. He didn't want to go on the record about who he partied with, but a tradition started, that included margaritas and tequila sunrise drinks.

Alcohol has been prominent for many in this race throughout the years. Food, parties and just an overall good time have also been heavily involved for Andy, a world-class sailor who was in the 1977 America's Cup.

His It's OK boat was a Maxi-class winner in the Newport to Ensenada once. That too was a good time with Lew Beery and Tom Purcell, all part of Tres Gordos Sailing LLC.

Andy has been a Transpac winner and has two Congressional Cup wins. He's also been a big part of the Governor's Cup history, winning and training young local sailors.

A lot of good memories, and a lot of them come from the race to Ensenada. That's why Andy was so willing to speak on Wednesday after his friend Ralph Rodheim asked him.

"There have been great memories," Andy said of the Newport to Ensenada race. "I've had such a good time for decades, for 45 years. Each one is different. The good things stay the same. You get to sail with great people and end up at a great place. Once the Hotel Coral developed we found a home there."

Andy wasn't sure of the exact amount of Newport to Ensenada races he's been in, but he estimated 30.

Andy's stories included his times at the hotel. He told the small group about his tradition to play croquet there. It was usually one-arm croquet. One hand had to hold a glass of wine, of course.

The stories, advice and insight kept the people at the NHYC interested.

"What we wanted to do was to have a meaningful speaker for the people in the race," said Rodheim, the marketing director for the Lexus Newport to Ensenada race. "There is no one better than Andy. Not only is he a world-class skipper, he knows this race inside and out. It was fabulous. He is phenomenal."

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Rodheim said special viewing of the race's opening is free to those who want to see at Balboa pier around noon on Friday.

Commodore Chuck Iverson said the ending of the race will be different than those in the past.

Before the race would end at Hotel Bahia in Ensenada. But this year it will end at the Hotel Coral breakwater, he said.

"Every room at the Coral will be able to see the finish of the race," Iverson said. "It's fabulous."

There will also be a concert Saturday night. Abbey Road, a Beatles tribute band, will play with the Ensenada Classical Orchestra.

Iverson also said the number of boats has increased from last year in this year's race. This year it's up to 218, whereas last year it was at 175.

He said the changes to the race's finish has helped draw attention, as well as the title sponsor, Lexus.

Lexus is offering a two-year lease of its 2013 GS350 to the skipper with the best corrected time.

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I had the pleasure of sitting with Gary Miltimore and Rick Ruppert during the luncheon. Both have been sailing together for 45 years and have been in several of the Newport to Ensenada races.

Miltimore also has another special talent.

For the second straight year he designed the cover of the official program for the race. It's a colorful painting of bright spinnakers and boats in the ocean.

Miltimore, 68, said he began painting as a boy growing up in Catalina.

"I just liked boats and I've been painting them ever since then," said Miltimore, now a Newport Beach resident.

Miltimore and his friend Ruppert, 65, of Seal Beach reminisced a bit about the race. They completed it in 12 hours once.

"It's fun with the right people and the right boat," Miltimore said.

Said Ruppert: "You just want to make it an enjoyable time. If it's not fun you have no reason to go."

steve.virgen@latimes.com

Twitter: @SteveVirgen

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