Green Dragon has begun its first Marina del Rey to Puerto Vallarta race, in the Salsa Division.

Gary and Rosalie Green became the owners of the Green Dragon in September 1998, and Friday, February 11th, the Catalina 380 sailed off in its longest race yet, the 18th Marina del Rey to Puerto Vallarta International Yacht Race sponsored by the Del Rey Yacht Club.

The skies were gray and the rain was intermittent as the 12 boats in the Salsa Division assembled in the guest dock area of Del Rey Yacht Club to begin their division start of the Puerto Vallarta race.

The Green Dragon crew has considerable experience in racing, having completed a number of Ensenada and Marina del Rey to San Diego events.

But rather than 100 to 125 miles, the Puerto Vallarta race event is 1,100 miles. That’s ten days racing, with several stopovers and a return trip of approximately 20 days.

Said Gary Green, who is Green Dragon skipper and primary navigator:

“The real PV [Puerto Vallarta] ‘race’ is in getting the boat and crew ready before you ever get to the starting line.

“Green Dragon is blue-water-capable and needed only a few modifications and additions to comply with the race requirements.”

Extra diesel tankage and filters, installation of a loaned SSB (single sideband) radio, the rental of a life raft and a new 1.5-ounce heavy spinnaker took place and, after some electronics updates, the boat was pretty much ready.

Then came provisioning for the voyage to cover ten days for a crew of seven.

The crew of Green Dragon represents many yacht clubs and sailing organizations.

Four of the seven crew members are past commodores of their respective yacht clubs:

Gary Green, South Bay Yacht Racing Club;

Rosalie Green and Fran Weber-Melville, Women’s Sailing Association of Santa Monica Bay; and

Jon Robbins, Pacific Mariners Yacht Club.

All these past commodores also represent the International Order of the Blue Gavel, District #11, an organization of former yacht club commodores.

The remainder of the crew — Terry Fuller, Julia Westerling and Nancy Hubner — are Women’s Sailing Association members and members of Fairwind Yacht Club.

Next came the practice sessions, which were held many times.

The weather this winter in Santa Monica Bay has provided all types of wind and seas, from near zero to 30-plus knots.

However, little was there to prepare the crew for its first day on the course.

Crossing the start line with ten to 12 knots of wind directly on the nose and six-foot seas was just the beginning.

As they headed south to round Palos Verdes Peninsula, the winds continued to build, the seas continued to swell and the fleet of 12 boats began to get battered.

Sails were blown out, equipment began to fail and, as the conditions worsened, the Salsa Fleet began to take refuge in the closest harbors and retire from the first leg of the race.

Masquerade withdrew completely.

Broadway Babe, Camelot, Enchanted Lady, Far Niente, Ginny B, Wind Dancer and Green Dragon found safety in Long Beach, Newport Beach and Dana Point in order to assess damages on Saturday morning and determine that — although the first leg of this adventure was lost — they would be back on the course by midday Saturday to meet the remainder of the class in Turtle Bay, Baja California.

Lark, Lazy Bones, Cheyenne and Quest had remained on the course and would complete the first leg.

It is now safe to say that the fleet is in Turtle Bay resting and preparing to begin the second leg to Cabo San Lucas.

This portion is estimated to take three days and all are in hopes of calmer conditions.

Del Rey Yacht Club’s Web site — dryc.org —is updated daily with locations and times, along with some text if applicable.

As The Argonaut went to press Wednesday, February 16th, three Santa Cruz 50s were to begin their class in what looks like match racing at its best.

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