New Course Record While Fleet Passes Cabo

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.

Mighty Merloe is nearly 15 years old now, and recently she has been getting some much deserved work to ‘tighten up’ the hull. You can only imagine the stress placed on various features of the outboard amas, cross beams, and mast components. With a new record in hand, it seems to have been worth it. 

Also worth it is Enloe’s ideal of keeping a top notch crew aboard. “When I bring professional sailors on board from Europe, part of their program is to train the younger local teammates to trim and steer [the boat].” Crew member Will Suto did his homework and showed off his skills. During the last day of the race, Enloe described Suto steering the 60’ rocket ship with only the leeward ama in the water and carving a course through the swells while keeping the boat speed at 30+ kts. “He smiles when the speedo’ shows 35 kts.” Enloe added. Their 250 mile trip across the Sea of Cortez from 60 miles due south of Cabo to the finish was an impressive 11 hours.

“Rookie Will Suto taking the Mighty Merloe for a 35+ knot Slalom through the swells on the Sea of Cortez. Veteran Nat Iyengar making it all possible by trimming the sails, grinding the hydraulic pumps and taking a fire hose to the face. It’s not all sunglasses and smiles, there’s a lot of hard work that makes it possible.”
- HL Enloe

For the rest of the fleet... they are punching their way through that lee, and perhaps thinking back to Peter Isler’s competitor briefing where he described the nuances of a ‘in close, out wide’ approach to the wind shadow in the lee of Cabo, and the third ‘leg’ of the race. Racers will be working most of today to pace themselves to the other side and ‘reattach’ to the northerly flow pumping out of the Sea of Cortez.

This report from Derivative nicely sums up the feast and famine existence for many:

Derivative (J/125, Mark Surber)

"Touching back on yesterday, very fast, very wet, very good. Still in first! As mentioned the Saturday night Cedros "corner cut" paid big time and set us up for an epic day of planing in close quarters with Timeshaver (J/125, Viggo Torbensen). Before getting to that... Fun breeze (mostly 18-22 kts, with a few 25 knot puffs late in the evening). While our goal is to always stay straight and maintain solid average speeds and prolong wave rides, the occasional (ahem, Pike) stray occurs and large speeds are reached. Pike was the day's master with 23 knots, I was in a solid 5th with a few 21s. Other than that, lots of 20s and sustained 18-19 knot runs each a minute or so at a shot. 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!

"Back to the point, Timeshaver did a great job reeling us in, and after several hours of hauling ass and a few jibes, we were able to pull back away. We ultimately separated about 1 this AM (they stayed on an in-shore path, we headed out). Fun playing with you guys!

"In the middle of this goings-on, Ian made another stellar meal. Jambalaya, and jumbalaya. As this was a pot full of food and paper bowls, and flat out blasting off waves, there was zero need for sides. Only time for a quick shovel. Another solid effort!

"So what has happened since then? As mentioned, we split with Timeshaver. All our forecast models said light inside today and that we need to go wide and far past Cabo to miss the huge wind shadow. All according to plan until today's new weather arrived... a bit late as we had already made our bed. That said, while we had zero second guessing (OK. Maybe a little), it was entirely satisfying to just now have Rio100 (Bakewell-White 100, Manouch Moshayedi) go blasting by a quarter mile to weather. If they're doing what we are doing, my confidence just went way up. Hope we aren't both idiots. Tomorrow will tell the story. Did our competition, who appear to be heading for a tight turn at Cabo do better? Or did our path, much longer sail, much further South, pay. We will know at roll-call. Please send us good vibes!"


For Horizon and Lucky Duck, who have been duking it out since Point Loma, they seem to have a solid balance of work and play. Reports from other racers reveal a wide variety of on board concerns.

Horizon (Santa Cruz 50, John Shulze)

“Finally lost sight of Lucky Duck (Santa Cruz 52, Dave MacEwen) last night going into Cabo wind shadows. The 700 mile match race has been fun but hopefully won’t see them till the bar. We were trading blows all day sometimes within 100 yds of each other. We have seen Bretwalda3 (Rogers 46, Bob Pethick) on AIS this morning 6 mi in front so pretty confident we came through well.”

Lucky Duck (Santa Cruz 52, Dave MacEwen)

“Yesterday, Monday, March 5, the third day of the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race, was another tickle-tussle with Horizon (Santa Cruz 50, John Schulze), including 2 hours of sailing at 2 knots within one half mile of each other. We would have waved but we were both too busy keeping ourselves moving in the light air. From limited YB Tracker data (no data was available overnight due to system issues, apparently) we both suffered less than most in the race."

Q1: What do we wish we had brought?
A1: Ice cubes, cold beer, pot gummies, manual for the VHF MMSI polling answer control.

Q2: What do we wish we had left behind?
A2: Fleece onesie, duplicate sailing vest, pot gummies, expired Safety-at-Sea Certificate.

"Anticipation is high of entry into the wind shadow downwind of Cabo San Lucas, sometime in the early morning hours of Tuesday. The shadow is from the near mountains of Sierra San Felipe la Soledad and Sierra de San Lazaro, and from the mountain ranges farther north of Cerro la Aguja and Cerro el Picacho. Humor remains high onboard with only few stories retold.”

Bretwalda3 (Rogers 46, Bob Pethick)

“Spent a long night bobbing around with no wind in the Cabo transition hole. Now through and sailing upwind. Experiencing some electrical issues as we took a lot of salt water spray during the 20 knot sprint on Sunday. Honey please bring your checkbook to PV.”

Chim Chim (Gunboat 62, John Gallagher)

“With over 300 miles to go, we have failed at attempts to repair our starboard blender. After long discussions, this brave crew as determined that we will continue on and not withdraw. There has been discussions to stop at Cabo for a replacement, but we feel we can make it on our Port blender alone. It may be over worked by the time we arrive, but we must press on!  If there are any boats in our vicinity with spare blender parts, please alert them of our 'situation'!"

Fractions (1D35, Ivan Batanov)

"Forgot zip-ties and the hot water thermos. Should have left the cup holders."

Triumph (Santa Cruz 52, Steve Sellinger)

"Left on shore: Spare alternator and cold beer. What did we bring by mistake: the only sail we haven't used (or are required to) the A3 spinnaker!"

For more info on the tracker delay issue:

Photos courtesy of Blue Jay Videography.