2018 News

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.

At midnight we surf waves with whooping shouts, grins, and no spinnaker. Then Orion and the stars of the milky way watch as our frothing bow wave gives way under slacking breeze and flattening seas. Morning brings dolphins, a lazy sea turtle and a fleet that is catching up. Capt. breaks out the A5 (Barney and Beaulah) ... a sail reserved for show not racing and it is game on again.
It's 12:55 PST on Wednesday. Just officially passed 5 days of racing. Looking downwind at the finish, 5 miles away. Unfortunately, our sistership again snuck past us during the night and looks to cross the finish line just ahead (amazing how we watch her all night, then lose sight, then she pops up just in front, plain as day). A bummer to say the least, but to be within 4 miles of your competition after 1000 miles of racing is pretty cool. I calculate we had 6 or 7 lead changes just in the last 2 days. Good times.
Mighty Merloe (Orma 60, HL Enloe) flew across the Sea of Cortez Monday and crossed the finish line to set new multihull and overall record for the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race. The previous record was set in 2014 by Tom Siebel’s MOD70 trimaran Orion, sailing 1209 miles in 56 hr 55 min for the 1000 mile rhumbline course. Mighty Merloe was three hours behind them that year, but suffered from a broken centerboard on one of the hulls, sailing 1160 miles that year. The new 2018 record now stands at 51 hr 58 min set by Mighty Merloe, sailing 1136 miles, for an average speed of 21.8 over the 1000 mile rhumbline course.
Tracker update issue overnight being resolved Tuesday morning. Positions will begin updating throughout the morning, including the manually reported 0600 times direct from the fleets daily roll call. All boats checked in per daily morning check in protocal and all is well with the fleet. Estimating Rio100 as first monohull finisher after dark. YB Tracking issued a statement on the technological explanation for the tracker down time. They have been in contact with SDYC throughout the process and are working to keep the event running smoothly for the competitors and race fans.
Exciting night rolling thru sustained 25 kts winds in 20’+ seas. A turn at the helm tested ones mettle. In true “Corinthian spirit”, crew appreciated having dined already on chicken Tikka Masala over basmati rice, paired with a ration of Oregon Pinot Noir. All aboard doing well.
In San Diego Yacht Club's Puerto Vallarta Race last night, a good portion of the fleet passed the metaphorical 50 yard line… or the "500 miles to go" mark. The combined average of 'Distance to Go' for the fleet is 495 miles. You can witness this compression if you review the YB Tracker. Today, the Saturday starters are approaching the 'catch', and will begin sailing through the Friday starters, who have already overtaken the Thursday boats. Outside of all of that, there is a lot of commercial traffic off the coast of Mexico... not just our intrepid sailors. Visit MarineTraffic.com to witness vessel traffic transmitting AIS world wide. Then zoom in to the race course and you will see the virtual highway used by hundreds of container and tanker ships, likely transiting through the Panama Canal and moving goods up the west coast. It can seem like a vast empty ocean, until you open your digital eyes. Look carefully and you may spot a few of our racers with their AIS-B permanently on. This “B” signal is low-power, and usually only visible for 10-15 miles by other vessels. These positions are relayed automatically by passing commercial vessel with commercial AIS-“A” systems with a much greater range.
Everyone is on the race course… and judging from 0600 comments from the boat, most are having a classic race to Mexico. Winds are generally from aft of the shrouds, sea states are moderate and ‘pushy’, and the temperature is rising. One boat, Jim Madden’s Stark Raving Mad, less so. SRM retired Saturday morning with a reported injury to a crew members finger. The boat diverted to San Quintin and the crew member was driven back to San Diego for prompt doctor’s attention. SRM is proceeding back to San Diego. All reports are good.
Well, we kind of knew this one could hurt a little bit. There were signs. Twenty-four hours into the 2018 San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race, and we are feeling the pain. We are headed south in Division 4, a mix of boats from 46 feet (us) to 65. It's a fairly diverse group featuring on one end a J/65 and a Swan 601, and on our end our 'little' DK46, Cazan. Alas, it is not a good year to be the slow boat in the class. Peter Isler said at the weather briefing for our starting day on Friday, "Well, you guys got the short straw." He was referring to the fact that the class that started on Thursday was experiencing great conditions, and the fact that it was looking pretty good for the Saturday starters. Friday was, well, very 'Friday.' It was going to be light, and shifty and variable. So we were pleased when the sea-breeze managed to push in for a bit, enough to get us out of SD Bay and heading south on a beautiful afternoon. We went from the #1 Jib to the Jib Top, and late at night we were actually able to get the 3A spinnaker up. 
Start day was off to poor running when one of the team lost his phone overboard, before we had left the dock. It's in a waterproof case and two of the team immediately jumped into see if they could find it. No joy, one phone down. The start area was inside San Diego Bay. So we had a nice start and headed out of the bay along with the main competition. As the third slowest boat in our class, we were able to hang in with the speedsters until we got out of the bay. In the lighter conditions we struggled a bit, but managed to put up a good fight anyway. Had a nice battle going through the Coronado Islands, and then things went a bit pear shaped. Very light conditions into the early morning on Saturday had us floundering slightly with some weird gybe angles. Sunrise showed a very cool looking but rather sullen sky with a mixture of small rain squalls and heavy looking currus around us, loitering about and threatening some bother. Roll call had us in close company with the leaders and as the day has progressed we have gained better and better pressure. Currently sailing at 10 to 13 knots of boat speed and waiting on a Lasagna dinner. Not too shabby at all.
“It’s going to be Champagne Sailing…” is a phrase that is meant to bring to mind ‘optimal’ sailing conditions. In the case of San Diego Yacht Club's Puerto Vallarta race, it would bring to mind a full moon lighting the seas at night, fresh winds of 12-15 kts aft of the beam, and long ocean swells just large enough to lift the transom and give your boat a little invisible push, followed by a subtle roar of your bow wave peeling past the hull. That was the case for Thursday starters, but as roll call 0600 reports trickled in Saturday morning, it was apparent that the champagne was running low.
For the first roll call of the 2018 Vallarta Race, it was clear that Peter Isler’s weather briefing the morning before had been spot on. “You’re going to have a banner evening with full moon and full breeze…” he advised. Thus this from Marjorie Friday morning: “…Just as Peter promised – bright worm moon, building breeze and great sailing…”, and “…sacrificed 1 spinnaker in 21 knot gybe…”. Cabernet Sky chimed in with “…spin halyard separated just after sunset, fished A3 from under boat…”. And this from Tropic Thunder “…30kt gust took out full symmetrical sail…”!
The Vallarta Race 2018 is officially underway with the first 3 boats getting their start on Thursday. The rest of the teams can be found enjoying beer and tacos along with Mariachis provided by partner Bay City Brewing and Mexico Tourism at the San Diego Yacht Club for the Kick Off Race Party tonight as they gear up for their starts on Friday and Saturday.
By Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt My DNA is Southern California, which means adverse sailing conditions are for other people. We get criticized for this, but when the weather for most of the year is predictably preferable, we get used to it. When it does rain, we can’t cope. It’s smart to stay off the roads… accidents happen.
Beginning on March 1st, the 2018 Vallarta Race hosted by San Diego Yacht Club, will include 30 boats, many sailed by some of the most experienced offshore racing teams on the West Coast. Racing from San Diego to Puerto Vallarta, this race highlights 1,000 nautical miles that include some of the best scenery and fiercest rivalry that California and Mexican waters have to offer. The 2018 running of the Vallarta Race will be the largest the race has been in many years.
Shirts, hats and more are available for order online from the exclusive provider of PV18 race gear, Pirate's Lair. Order your shirts and add custom team name embroidery if you wish. http://store.pirateslair.com/sdyc-puerto-vallarta-race-2018