The 2016 edition of the Vallarta Race was a tale of two races. As sailors reached the dock in Marina Vallarta, their stories emphasized the contrast between the two. The first race is the run from San Diego to Cabo which this year was like none other. The second race involves attempting to avoid the holes and minimize the light air that most boats encountered crossing the Sea of Cortez and approach to PV. While this diversity is expected on any Vallarta Race, the extremes seen in 2016 were unique. Boats like Gordon Leon's Farr 40 Flyer reached 22 knots and were rocking and rolling on the first half, while even the trimaran Mighty Merloe fell victim to the shutdown of breeze on the second half approach to the finish, floating along at 2-3 knots at times.
Congratulations to John Schulze and the crew of Horizon (Santa Cruz 50), overall and Div 3 winners of the 2016 Vallarta Race! Horizon sailed the course in 4 days, 13 hours, 52 minutes, 19 seconds, and corrected out over Roy Disney's Pyewacket (Andrews 70) by nearly 2 hours.
Mighty Merloe crossed the finish line in 67.8 hrs (2 days, 19 hr, 49 min, 29 sec). After a 36 hour run unlike any other from San Diego to Cabo, the second half of their journey was an exercise in getting through the lee of Cabo, build speed down the course, and staying on which ever tack (yep - beating is what you get approaching at night) to keep best speed to the finish despite the light north and east winds blowing out of Banderas Bay through the night. The trimaran crew hoped to get across the line overnight, but it was not to be.
That 'new day' we talked about yesterday... it's here, and so begins the second part of the Vallarta Race. So consider that as of Monday, 0900 race time, the fleet is stretched approx. 235 nm along the Baja peninsula, plus another 110 miles if you add Mighty Merloe's lead. She is clearly forecasting the future for the fleet.
With everyone recognizing that HL Enloe's ORMA 60 trimaran Mighty Merloe (MM) is fast, it is no surprise that MM was going to ZOOM down the course. But it is still so impressive to track them as they work their way through a fleet that started 24 hours before them, and they are still 160 miles from Cabo at 1700 PST.
All 21 boats have departed San Diego and the adventure to Puerto Vallarta is in motion. We have a pair of Farr 40s one design racing for 1000 miles; we have the 60x60 trimaran machine Mighty Merloe pacing the epic Super Maxi sled Rio100; we have a great collection (Class 3) of Santa Cruz 50s and 52s; we have the great design debate: small quick pole boat (J/125) vs classic offshore R/P 50 Blue Blazes; and we have Class 2, the diverse and always fun to sail sled class. There is a lot going on this week in the Pacific.
Starting February 19, teams will gather in San Diego to start the 2016 Vallarta Race, the 32nd running of the international sailboat race from San Diego Bay to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. This biennial event features some of the fastest boats and ocean sailors in the sport and continues to provide the rare opportunity to race from the US, beyond Baja, to the Mexican mainland.