A First Look into the 2018 Puerto Vallarta Race

We’re officially one year away from the iconic race from San Diego to Puerto Vallarta which will sail its 33rd installment in March 2018, with its first start on March 2nd. 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.

Many talented sailors from yacht clubs all over the world competed in the 2016 edition, making it a very diverse race. A total of 21 boats raced in five classes, representing 12 different yacht clubs.

First entries for the 2018 race include Lani Spund from SDYC in his Santa Cruz 52, Kokopelli2, Tom Holthus from SDYC in his brand new Pac52, Bad Pak, the 2010 Puerto Vallarta race winner Lorenzo Berho from SDYC on his Kernan 70, Peligroso, and Ricardo Brockmann from the Acapulco Yacht Club in his Reichel/Pugh 52, Vincitore.

Although Kokopelli2 is a veteran of several Cabo and Transpac races, this time their calendar allows Spund to race his own boat down to PV and enjoy the beautiful Banderas Bay for a few months before bringing the boat back to San Diego. “The time of year provides great wind down to Cabo then usually light winds from there to PV making for a strategic event. This is just one big regatta with everything you could ask for in offshore racing.”

To prepare for PV, Spund plans to participate in Cabrillo 2, the SoCal 300, Santa Barbara to King Harbor, and the Rum Runner, sharpening his sailing philosophies of “safety first, then attention to details of navigation, sail handling, and tactics, and of course FUN!”

The Transpac Race in July will be the first offshore race for Tom Holthus and his crew on Bad Pak, the new Cookson Pac52 that is being delivered in April. Holtus used to sail on a Reichel/Pugh 65, but will switch to this new 52 foot boat hoping that this smaller size is the “sweet spot” for offshore racing. If timing and scheduling work out, Holthus and his crew may also sail the Cabo Race in early 2018, but they plan to make PV their priority.

“The PV Race is always a great race. You get to see the beauty of Baja with its wildlife - lots of whales, dolphins and turtles. You may start off bundled up but you always finish in short sleeves and shorts. To top it off, SDYC finishes the race in style by putting on an awesome awards ceremony in PV. Some other races you just finish and go home. We try to plan a family vacation around the finish of PV.”

The smaller boat size means that Holthus will sail with fewer crew, but he is looking forward to seeing how these changes will play out before PV. “I always tell my crew that the best way to have fun is to win. To win you need to put together a great team that works well together. It isn’t that much different than putting together any other sports or business team. Plan, practice, execute and hope for a little luck.”

Erik Brockmann is looking forward to his fifth PV Race as crew for his father, Ricardo Brockmann, though this will only be his third time racing on Vincitore. Erik raced on Peligroso in 2010 and 2012. Ricardo has given his crew the opportunity to constantly do offshore races in his boats for a little more than a decade including six Transpacs, two Cabo Races and four PV Races.

“In 2014 we won our Class for the first time in our boat Vincitore and then we got 2nd at MEXORC. We said those are the best two weeks of sailing we have ever had!”

John Schulze on Horizon (Santa Cruz 50) was the overall and Class 3 winner of the 2016 race. Horizon finished the course after sailing for 4 days, 13 hours, 52 minutes and 19 seconds.

Among the other class winners were Aszhou, Steve Meheen’s R/P 63, in Class 1, Pyewacket, an Andrews 68 owned by Roy P. Disney in Class 2, and Blue Blazes, Dennis Pennell’s R/P 50 in Class 4. HL Enloe’s ORMA 60 trimaran, Mighty Merloe, competed in its own multihull class and finished the course first in 67.82 hours.

Racers, fans and media consider this a quintessential race for any West Coast distance competitors. With outstanding rivalry and picturesque conditions, it's easy to see the appeal.