NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., April 24, 2018 – The 71st Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race is just three days away, but before Mighty Merloecrosses the start line in hopes of setting yet another record, the ORMA 60 championed by owner HL Enloe, will be making a pit stop at Newport Harbor Yacht Club for a playdate.
For the past few years, Mighty Merloe, and its remarkable crew have been systematically checking off best elapse time records in almost every long distance yacht race in California like they’re running down a shopping list.
SD to Puerto Vallarta – check
NYHC to Cabo – check
SoCal 300 – check
Islands Race – check
TransPac – check
In what is becoming a mighty good tradition, the boat and crew will spend the afternoon of April 26 inspiring NHYC’s junior sailors. It will be the third time that Mighty Merloe has spent the day entertaining and educating the small sailors about the sport of big boat racing. About 20 kids will have the chance to get out on the water and see what it takes to sail a record-breaking boat.
It’s rare for the juniors to sail on large boats, much less a big fast trimaran like Mighty Merloe, said Suto. As long as the weather cooperates and there are no malfunctions or boat issues that need to be remedied before N2E’s start on Friday, the plan is to take six of the young sailors out at a time.
Although the boat is large, the kids do not all go at once as the boat is quite sensitive to weight and weight distribution. And everyone wants a turn. Last year, the kids were all smiles; steering the boat, working winches, and riding on the bow, said Suto. For safety purposes, the boat won’t be run full out, but at about 19-20 knots, it will certainly go fast enough to be memorable.
According to Cara Vavolotis, NHYC’s junior sailing director, fun events things like this, which are super exciting for the kids, is one of the best parts of her job. Compared to the Naples Sabot and the CFJ’s the kids usually sail, Mighty Merloe is super-fast. But not only are the kids thrilled at the speed, it’s the entire experience, Vavolotis said. They get to spend time with an international crew; they get to drive, grind and trim the sails,” she said. “It’s all very exciting.”
Suto said when on the water, the crew is usually focused on boat handling, performance, boat speed, and racing. It’s a nice and rare chance for the team to have fun. “We love sailing our boat, so it is always special to share the experience, particularly with the younger generation,” he said. Not only do the kids look forward to the sailing event, so do the crew and Mr. Enloe. At 82 years young, Enloe is considered a pioneer of multihull sailing in Southern California. “It seems especially poetic that he’s making the effort to share the experience with the next generation,” Suto said.
The real hero, besides the kids, is the boat, said Mr. Enloe who also reports the crew’s anticipation of the annual event and sharing the multi-hull sailing experience. Suto hopes that the experience will inspire the novice sailors, some of whom might be sailing boats that are even bigger and faster in the future. With some exposure to the sport, you never know where the kids will take it.
Surprisingly, Mr. Enloe did not learn to sail until he was 60 years old. “22 years later we’re setting records and having fun,” he said.
But come Friday, the crew’s back to business. According to Suto, Enloe structures his crew with a mix of seasoned veterans, ambitious young professionals, and adventurous Corinthians, all of whom are onboard to break N2E’s elapsed time record. Orion, Tom Siebel’s 70-foot ORMA set the record time of 5:17:26 in 2016 after a 125-mile dual with Mighty Merloe.
After a year off, Orion and crew are back to defend their record. With their sparring partner back on the water, look for Enloe, Suto, and crew to be rested after a day of play yet more driven to check that last box off their Ensenada shopping list.