March 12, 2020

…and Double-handed to Ensenada

Like Rod Woods, Dan Rossen is also a seasoned offshore sailor who has entered this year’s 73rd Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race as a double-handed entry. And with his perennial racing partner Richard Whitley he is also a past class winner on their B-32 Problem Child. In fact, Dan claims they have won the DH trophy on the N2E some 7 times, more than half the number of times he has also sailed this race in full-crew mode.

Both are long-term dedicated sailors on the Southern California racing scene, with give-back contributions to the sport as a Commodore (Rod) and as a PHRF Board member (Dan). Both have also had light fast boats: Rod with his Olson 30 and Dan with the B-32.

But the similarities seem to end there, because while Rod aspires to have a nice cruise down the coast to his home port in Dana Point, Dan is still gung-ho to head out to sea for the overnight challenge of racing 125 miles to Ensenada with just he and Richard to share all roles on board: steering, trimming, navigating, performing sail changes when needed, maybe even sleeping and eating. Dan has boundless energy for a spry 60-year old, and has tremendous enthusiasm for competitive sailing.

“I got a late start in this sport, in the mid-‘90’s,” he claims, “and did my first N2E in about 2000, with mid-fleet results for several years. Then we gradually got better and better, and with Richard we’ve been really doing well. Last year Richard could not make it, so Pete Heck and I raced and had a great time.” 

More than that: they also won the same perpetual trophy Dan won several times in previous years racing with Richard: the Volvo Trophy for best corrected time for a DH entry. This prestigious award is one of a staggering list of 38 perpetual awards and trophies offered in N2E this year.

Does Dan get complacent about this impressive winning streak? Not really.

“Every race is a little different, or sometimes a lot, but racing double-handed always keeps you on your toes,” he says. For example, on board Problem Child, they have an auto-pilot for the tiller helm, but generally don’t want to use it except in the lightest air in drifting conditions, when he says it takes maximum concentration on sail trim, with one team mate on deck and the other below getting sleep due to the exhaustion produced from such high focus.

Fort this year’s race Dan is ready to deploy Problem Child with new weapons: a new bowsprit fitted and two new spinnakers. He’s researching now the speed potential of this new trim.

As for the finish venue in Ensenada, Dan says he loves it.

“I love the town and the atmosphere there,” he said. I really like the change of being in another culture, walking around, and I like to bring back gifts like those woven bracelets for my grand daughter. I’m really looking forward to going again.”

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