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A wild ride

April 29, 2001

Danette Goulet

ENSENADA, MEXICO -- In the gray-white light of dawn, in which sunrise

was undeterminable through the gloom, sailboats began to pass between the

two finish boats that welcomed racers into Ensenada, Mexico.

A scant 16 hours after the first of more than 400 vessels left the

waters off Newport Beach, the grandest of the monohull boats trickled

across the finish line and dropped their weary sails.

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At 3:57 a.m., Roy E. Disney's turbosled, Pyewacket, was the first

sailboat in the 54th annual Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race to earn the

finale horn blast from judges.

The brand-new Chance, a 74-foot Reichel/Pugh, followed by less than an

hour as the second sailboat across the finish line at 4:46 a.m.

Soon the horizon would be speckled with the sight of billowing

spinnakers.

Ships and their crews, who began the tireless 126-nautical-mile

journey in high spirits Friday at noon, straggled into the harbor of

Ensenada on Saturday morning, tired yet elated.

"I'm just delirious -- delirious from the wild ride," said Kevin

Donahue, a crew member on America's Challenge, the fourth vessel across

the finish line Saturday morning.

America's Challenge, a Newport Beach boat skippered by Neil Barth and

sponsored by the Union Bank of California, came in at 5:28 a.m. It is one

of few vessels to have been single sailed around the world, which means

just one man made the trek.

Crossing the line fourth was even more impressive for America's

Challenge given that they ran into a few troubles along the way -- losing

two shoots and the colorful spinnaker sail when the supporting carbon

fiber pole broke.

A Whitbread 60, America's Challenge is one of the larger boats in the

race, which has vessels that stretch from a modest 25-feet to an

impressive 100-feet.

Just nine minutes after America's Challenge crossed the line, a

31-foot trimaran out of Long Beach, Calif., the Mental Floss arrived, as

the first multihull vessel in Ensenada.

Although first over the line, the team of three did not take first in

their class after all handicaps were considered and the corrected times

posted.

"We're tired. I had all of about 15 minutes sleep before you broke

something," said Scott Klodowski, turning to his crew mate Jeff Cohen.

"There's a third member of the crew who's sleeping."

Like the crew of the Mental Floss, Disney's Pyewacket did nottake home

the trophy for first in their class, despite being the first to cross the

finish line.

As of Saturday, the Ragtime, a 35-year-old wooden beauty owned by

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