Is the Newport to Ensenada race cursed?
It might seem so. We sail in a time of reduced participation in many sailing venues, including southern California. Recent years have suffered from the negative media coverage of the Mexican drug wars. Race to Mexico and be killed for your efforts. I member crossing thru Tijuana the same day 14 bodies were found in 2008. Not a great sales pitch. But some peaceful years have gone by. NOSA has had some good races to the new Hotel Coral venue. It is both upscale and safe. No N2E racers or friends have ever been killed by drug wars. No bad press in the last few years. Things are looking up, then WHAM!
1)The Toll road to Ensenada washes out in an earthquake.
2)New Temporary Import Permit (TIP), and 333 boats get embargoed (can’t leave dock).
3)Tourist visa, another $25/person.
4)New water use fee, $25/person and get boarded by the Mexican Navy (kids with automatic weapons).
5)Cabo race is cancelled.
What did NOSA do to deserve this kind of luck? What is Mexico thinking? Sailors are the most supportive group of tourists in Mexico. We should boycott Mexico and avoid any sailboat race to Mexico! Wait a minute, I’m supposed to be promoting N2E 2014.
How about “Occupy Ensenada!” Are we not Anarchists? We’re not going to take this shit from Mexico! What are they going to do? Throw my protesting ass in jail? Maybe yes, and maybe this is not such a great idea. Mexican jails don’t sound like fun. So how am I going to make racing to Ensenada attractive in light of these issues?
Let’s take another look at them.
The road: NOSA staff have been to Ensenada since the washed out road. It turns out the whole road isn’t washed out, just a small section. You head to Ensenada on the toll road, and 2/3rds of the way there you have a 15 minute detour thru Mexican wine country. 15 minutes extra doesn’t sound bad. Neither does wine country. Kind of pretty I hear. So maybe the road isn’t a big deal.
Temporary Import Permit: Turns out the TIP is not new, it was just never enforced before. $50 for 10 years, sign up on line and get a receipt before you go. Marinas are going to check if you have it. This will be N2E #15 for me. $5/year doesn’t sound bad at all for the next 10 years. I think I’ll just get one. In way of compensation, NOSA is extending a $50 entry fee discount until Feb 15. This’ll cover your next 10 years of Mexico waters fees. As for embargoing your boat for little reason, it seems the shit storm started by Latitude 38 has lead to the stopping of all embargoes, as Mexico get’s their act straightened out.
Tourist visa: The Mexico web site says this is not required for less than a 48 hour stay. Regardless, Nosa has arranged a Hotel Coral check in just like prior years. Walk up, flash your passport , all done. NOSA is taking care of any fees. No cost to racers. Same for harbor fees. All included.
That leaves the new water use fee per person. This is a new fee. All the Ensenada officials, Tourism, City, State, and Federal, say this was only intended for sport fishing boats. Furthermore there is a lot of pressure to clean this up before Obama’s visit in mid February. Every assurance is that this will be gone before the N2E race. But to avoid uncertainty, NOSA is offering a money back guarantee to any racer that withdraws before April 15. If you are not comfortable with the issues of sailing to Mexico, just back out by April 15 and get all your money back.
Gee, there is no reason not to just sign up now.
But wait, there is more.
Cruiseport Marina has N2E rates for slips at $1.16/foot. Hotel Coral has a new restaurant/bar facility on the water and is hosting a Saturday night fiesta. We are to be welcomed on arrival with a free beer. There will be a grand prize raffled off in a drawing from among the class winners, not simply overall-corrected time. And for the first time there will be an exhibition class for full foiling flying sailboats (just like the AC), of which there are rumors of an entry for 2014.
Good wind has been ordered for the entire race. It looks like N2E 2014 is going to be the best ever. Are you really going to miss it?