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Yachts setting sail in annual Newport to Ensenada race

First place wins two-year lease on a 2013 Lexus GS 350 sedan.

April 26, 2012|By Jenny Stockdale, Special to the Daily Pilot
  • Dennis St. Onge rides ontop of Da-Woody, his car-shaped boat he photographs sailing races from.
Dennis St. Onge rides ontop of Da-Woody, his car-shaped… (Daily Pilot )

In the words of Dennis St. Onge, "Yellow is fast."

He's the captain of a 1940s Ford woody station wagon-turned-motorboat that will be hard to miss at the start of this weekend's 65th annual Newport to Ensenada yacht race.

"And yellow is going to win this year. Mark my words!" he added, rooting specifically for the 1980s, yellow carbon fiber monohull Taxi Dancer, which placed in the race's top 10 in 2011.

St. Onge, a San Diego resident and professional photographer, has shared the waters with Newport to Ensenada racers since 1993. He uses his sunflower yellow, car-shaped boat to provoke smiles of race attendees and participants alike.

From his sunroof, he has a bird's-eye view of the entire competition.

"I'm kind of all over the roof, which you can bet gives me the ultimate photo platform," he said. "My main goal, though, is to never have an effect on the race other than being positive and helping people have fun. It's kind of like being a seagull."

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Just off the Balboa Pier on Friday, more than 218 yachts will negotiate the wind and water for 125 nautical miles to a new finish line at the Hotel Coral and Marina in Ensenada.

Cruising boats start at 11 a.m., following by racing boats at 12:40 p.m.

The vessel that gets to the Ensenada breakwater with the shortest corrected handicap time, which accounts for variations in speed and ability among the sailing vessels, wins.

St. Onge's vessel, Da-Woody, though not competing, has been deemed the event's unofficial mascot. The boat can sometimes be seen with a nameless parrot perched atop and an 18-foot American flag trailing behind its 12-foot hull.

"I add a little color to the event, besides yellow," St. Onge said. "The race is good, clean fun, and it's extremely therapeutic. When I go out on my boat and see folks smiling back at me, it's like a perfect world. If you make someone else happy, you're happy and it makes a giant happy snowball that just gets bigger and better."

Yellow isn't the only fast ingredient of this race.

Lexus is giving the winner a two-year lease on a 2013 Lexus GS 350 sedan.

Starting the race are Bill Gibbs' 52-foot multihull Afterburner; Per Peterson's Dencho 70, Alchemy; Bob Lane's Andrews 63.3, Medicine Man; the Tres Gordos' Andrews 50, It's OK; and the Reichel/Pugh 68, Taxi Dancer, owned by Dick Compton, Jim Yabsley and Tom Parker.

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