N2E Day 3: The Finish Saturday

IMG_5743At 05:30 hours, we spotted the finish line in Ensenada, marked by a buoy marker and a small committee power boat floating serenely in the distance. And sailing about a quarter mile in front of us was a 40-foot sloop. She was moving steadily toward the finish, moments, it seemed, from crossing.

Our 14-year-old driver tightened his grip on the helm and raced after her. “Jibe!” he called to his crew, swiftly turning the wheel to move Hokahey’s stern through the eye of the wind and toward the finish. Scrambling across the cockpit, our whippersnappers eased and pulled the sheets. A winch cracked loudly. The palmtrees lining the Ensenada coast sped backwards as we began barrelling through the waves toward our competitor. Hokahey charged through the finish line at what appeared to be the exact same moment as our rival. We held our breath and waited for the two race officials sitting in the committee boat to make their call, watching them shine a light first on our competitor’s sail, and then on our sail. “Sail number US51200” the loudspeaker announced. It was ours!

We looked back mid-victory dance at the boat we’d mercilessly taken down. It turned out to be crewed by one man holding a cup of coffee and a little dog in his lap. He waved. His dog, who appeared to be a chihuahua, wagged her tail.

We circled the Ensenada marina, spoke Spanish to a few people in boats, and the headed north to San Diego. Hokahey has to drop off one of our adult crew members so he can fly back to Jackson.