Puerto Vallarta, MX (March 9, 2018) - It has been five, six or seven days since the 2018 San Diego Yacht Club’s Puerto Vallarta race left San Diego Bay, depending on when you start counting. One thousand rhumbline miles later, the boats are piled into Marina Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta. Sails are being flaked, lines are being dried, along with foul weather gear being given a chance to exhale after some serious work. Every two years a new cast of characters hop on board to head south for fast sailing and warm weather...a Puerto Vallarta Race tradition since 1953.
Echoing this sentiment was Dwight Belden on Santa Cruz 52 Triumph. “Listening to James Taylor's sweet strings and lyrics of ‘Oh, Mexico, sounds so simple, I just got to go,’ and a little later to Jimmy's Buffett's version, he adds ‘…let's load this cast of characters on that boat and head south, we got a wind at our back, smooth sailing all the way…’. Ahhh, Mexico is calling!”
The 2018 fleet of 28 boats pushed the limits of the race, featuring Mighty Merloe’s (HL Enloe, Orma 60) record breaking run of 2 days 3 hours, 58 minutes and 21 seconds, 4 hours faster than Orion’s 2014 race.
Garmin provided Mighty Merloe with a 360 degree camera for this race, so through this video you can step on board and experience what Enloe and his crew experience, minus the need for goggles to keep the whipping wind and salt water out of your eyes. While a majority of the fleet continued to battle to the finish line, the Mighty Merloe crew and spouses took to Banderas Bay with their kiteboards.
360 Degree Video on Board Mighty Merloe (by Will Suto)
After catching up on sleep, and cleaning the boats, the sailors begin reflecting on the race. Their stories and comments about the race emphasize the contrast between the two primary segments of the race. The first segment is the ‘departure’, which refers to the start, leaving the coast line and effectively, a boats path to Cabo. This leg often features ‘best ever’ sessions for some very seasoned sailors.
The second segment is the ‘arrival’, and refers generally to the transit under Cabo San Lucas, and transitioning from ocean trades to coastal winds on the approach to the finish at Banderas Bay. The transit under Cabo is basically a “high/low” choice. Some boats will choose to skirt the Baja coast within shouting distance of the beach goers on shore, or passing low, which is somewhere between 30 and 60 or more miles off the coast. High or low, the approach to the finish involves connecting the ‘wind dots’ to the finish. Sometimes those dots are one solid line, and sometimes they are few and far between.
Reflecting on the idea that “the second leg is where the race is won or lost…” Monday morning quarterbacks should review the race watching Pyewacket’s(Andrews 70, Roy Disney) path around Cabo San Lucas.
Basically Pyewacket, with Ben Mitchell skippering, sailed less miles (1092 miles) than the others in their fleet, in fact nearly 40 miles less than second place Mr. Bill(Andrews 70, David Happ) who sailed 1129 miles. Winning Navigator Tom Addis talked about setting Pyewacket up for the Cabo transit on the third night, with about 100 miles to go. They crossed behind Runaway (Andrews 70, Hector Velarde) and Peligroso (RP 52, Lorenzo Berho) and aimed for Cabo Falso. At sunrise, they dug in, as close as three miles from shore, and while slowing down to 2 or 3 kts at times, they kept the boat moving in ‘land effect’ breezes ghosting off the beach. 20 miles later they were hooked in to the breeze from Sea of Cortez. By sunset, they were 20 miles inside, and 30 miles ahead of Runaway and Mr. Bill. Peligroso chose the low route (40ish miles south of Cabo), and had good speed through the Cabo lee, but wound up 30 miles low of Pyewacket’s route. Addis and the Pyewacket crew worked the boat to the finish and despite being the slowest boat in their division, lead everyone except Peligroso across the finish line, giving them just 2 minutes credit. That was good for a 13 hour corrected time victory in Division 3, and an Overall regatta victory.
Aside from Mighty Merloe’s record setting early arrival on Monday, Wednesday morning began with Tuesday night finisher Rio100, Manouch Moshayedi Bakewell-White 100 sloop entering the harbor around the stroke of midnight. Race Committee worked to get them tied up to the sea wall in the cruise ship turning basin as they have a keel draft too deep to inter the inner harbor. The first official finisher on Wednesday was the beautiful and consistently fast Custom BBY 59 Marjorie owned by Gardner Baldwin of Houston, TX.
Interview with Bill Guilfoyle aboard Marjorie: https://youtu.be/ZQ4YCXqHXno
Interview with CF Koehler aboard Marjorie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDrTV0vHA-w&t=59s
Bob Pethick, overall winner in the 2014 Puerto Vallarta Race, and his team aboard the Rogers 46 Bretwalda3 were the 3rd monohull to finish. Bretwalda3 took the widest position away from the baja coast on the first two days of the race, passing Turtle Bay with 70 miles between the boat and shore, contrasted with the closest position to shore for the final 100 miles on the approach to Cabo. This strategy turned into 1st in Division 4 and 8th overall in Bretwalda3’s 2nd PV Race. Bob’s family recently relocated to the west coast from Detroit, looking forward to continuing in the west coast racing scene.
Interview with Bob Pethick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrpvxgjeW4k
The Prospector (Mills 68) ownership syndicate from Shelter Island, New York brought a team from the east coast to carve up the Pacific this year. With 18 on board in the PV Race, Prospector took one of the deepest roundings on the passing of Cabo, getting up to 70 miles off the tip of Baja on their way across the Gulf, paying off with 2nd in class, and just 27 corrected-time minutes behind class winner, and PV Race veterans Vincitore (RP 52). After the PV Race, the Prospector team will continue their west coast tour until sailing to Hawaii in the Pacific Cup, and ultimately on to the Sydney Hobart Race.
The Derivative team had a blast on this regatta as evident by their daily reports from the water (Read more from the Derivative Team). Both J/125s in the race (Derivativeand Timeshaver) sailed a similar path down the coast of Baja, staying within a few miles of each other much of the way. Derivative ended up about 10 miles farther north in passing Cabo than their rival J/125, while Timeshaver was able to beat them to the finish by less than an hour, sailing 19 miles less over the course. Both boats finished in the top 5 overall.
Rob Edwards, Derivative Navigator described the 200-miles covered on their Monday racing. “Great surf, right direction, crap-load of water (a little down below… maybe all of it), and fun breeze. Good times! Oh! I failed to mention the huge moon! Wow! Doing 20 knots while surfing across moon sparkled ocean is spectacular. It’s why we do these events!”
Horizon (John Shulze, Santa Cruz 50) can often be found near the top of any race standings. In the 2018 PV Race, Dave MacEwen’s Lucky Duck (Santa Cruz 52) was able to hang right with Horizon for the first 750 miles, finding themselves within shouting distance at times of their rival. With 250 miles to go, Horizon pulled away and put several hours between them and their competition in the Santa Cruz class 5, finishing in 5 days 4 hours while Lucky Duck and Hana Ho (Mark Dowdy) finished 9 hours later within site of each other, followed by Triumph another 2 hours later.
Len Bose, Horizon: “A lot of preparation was taken for that part of the race course by our navigator Alex Steele. The Cabo transition is one of the key parts of the race and everything went as planned for us. We found the breeze before Lucky Duck in that last leg and were able to sail through the transition faster while The Duck was overtaken by the lack of wind.”
While many in the fleet are long time veterans of the PV Race, others are brand new to the 1,000 mile southern run. Steve Sellinger has owned the Santa Cruz 52 Triumph for two years and this was his first PV Race. Like most others, Triumph experience the full array of PV Race conditions, peaking with winds blowing 25 knots on Saturday, the boat surfing up to 23 knots, just epic. And the challenging part of coming through the wind shadow of Cabo at the wrong time of day and having no route to pass with much speed.
Around noon on Monday the boom separated from Triumph’s mast, and the crew had to drop the sails for a repair job that ended up taking about 90 minutes. There was some concern they’d be unable to repair if they didn’t have the right bolts. Using a sledge hammer and hose clamps the fix worked and they continued on the race. As a part of the highly active Santa Cruz 50/52 contingent on the west coast, Triumph’s 2018 racing schedule will include the SoCal 300, Rum Runner, and the Santa Barbara to King Harbor race.
Division 7’s three boat fleet packaged the 2nd monohull to finish, Marjorie, with the final to finish, Tropic Thunder. John Miller’s Beneteau 46 got the most bang for their buck finishing the race Friday morning, 7 days and 17 hours on the course. Charles Buckner’s Cabernet Sky paired their 6 knot average boat speed for the week with high quality dining and eclectic music playlist, and in the last moments of their race made the decision to motor past the finish in order to make it to PV for the awards fiesta to not miss out on the festivities.
A wonderful addition to the race experience was the welcome party for each of the racers arranged by Ullman Sails Puerto Vallarta and Novamar Yacht Insurance. A local band greeted each boat as the pulled into their slip with welcome tunes, cold beer and tequila shooters, at every hour of the day or night. Whether it was another beautiful sunny day or the cool calm of night in the marina, the hospitality was there on the dock...for five days! Thank you!
The awards ceremony, beachside at the Westin Puerto Vallarta brought together hundreds of sailors, more music from the Ullman Sails PV welcome party band, food, drinks and the classic silver Puerto Vallarta race trophies that are near and dear to the heart of San Diego Yacht Club.
San Diego Yacht Club also celebrats 65 years of friendly competition and camaraderie with Club de Yates de Acapulco, and we look forward to coming back in 2020 for another adventure.
Thank you to SDYC's Commodore Mike Dorgan, 4x Vallarta Race chairman Steve Malowney, supporting members from San Diego Yacht Club, and all those who make this event happen.