New Elements in SDYC’s 2018 Vallarta Race

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.

The iconic race will start in San Diego Bay off of Shelter Island. Three days of race starts are scheduled; the cruising racers will start on Thursday, March 1st, with the rest of the classes starting on Friday and Saturday. The earlier start is a new feature to the race, opening up the opportunity for a new cruising class of racers to enter the Vallarta Race.

Most entries are from California and Mexico though some competitors will travel from as far as Houston, TX, Orchard Lake, MI, Bethesda, MD, Newport, RI, Omaha, NE, and Lima, Peru to participate. The fleet ranges in size from the 100 foot Bakewell 100, Rio100, down to Fractions, a 35 foot 1D35 Turbo along with Mighty Merloe, an ORMA 60, the fastest Trimaran on the West Coast.

Steve Meheen will race the 2018 Vallarta Race on his new Botin 80, El Cabrón. Built by the renowned yachtsman Karl Kwok in 2014, the boat is the former Beau Geste. The 2018 Vallarta Race will be El Cabrón’s maiden voyage.

El Cabrón is a very light weight 80 footer, and we are looking forward to having a lot of fun while racing it. We won our division in the PV16 race with our RP63, Aszhou, and had a great time. However, we have put some miles on Aszhou in the last two years, and decided to move up a notch.”

In addition to the new boat, Meheen also revealed that there will be changes in the crew on board. “Our crew is mostly the same group that have been sailing Aszhou with for the last two years with two exceptions. On El Cabrón, Skip McCormack will move to tactician and Dan Flanigan will move to navigator. Our goal for PV18 is simple: be safe, go fast and have fun.”

There have been a handful of winners who have won the race twice, however, no owner has ever won the Vallarta Race three times. Two-time overall winner Dennis Pennell (2006 and 2012) with his team on Blue Blazes (R/P 50) could complete this feat in 2018. The Kernan 70, Peligroso, has won twice (2008 and 2010) though the ownership has changed. If Peligroso wins this year, it would be the boat’s third win.

Larry Landry, Dave Siwicki, Marty Roesch, and Paul McDowell will be first time participants of the Vallarta Race on their Mills 68 Prospector. Based on the East Coast, the team has participated in the Transatlantic, Middle Sea, Caribbean 600, Fastnet, Pineapple Cup, and Marblehead to Halifax regattas. McDowell explains how the Vallarta Race fits into the team’s future race plans.

“This year we have decided to try our hand on the West Coast and beyond with the Vallarta Race being one of the centerpieces of our campaign this year. We are not only looking forward to experiencing this terrific race, but we also plan to use it as a bit of a training ground for the PacCup later this summer.”

All four owners will travel across the country to sail the Vallarta Race and McDowell shares how they are looking forward to ticking this event off of their bucket list of major ocean races.

“We love the point to point races and there is something really great about starting in one country and finishing in another. It will be challenging for us as this will be our first significant distance race in the Pacific, but we hope to be up to the task. The boat is terrific so if we can keep her going fast and pointed in the right direction, we will let the results take care of themselves.”

Embracing 21st century technology, the Race Committee will employ a virtual finish this year. Instead of the traditional physical finish line marked by a vessel on station, boats will cross a ‘geofence’, a digital line marked by two waypoints on a map, located in between Punta Mita and Islas Marietas.

“The reliability and accuracy of the YB Trackers has been tested over and over, and can be relied on. Further, the new finish location avoids many of the shoals and light air associated with the old finish boat location that has concerned competitors in the past,” says Jeff Johnson, SDYD Regatta Manager and PV Race Officer.

SDYC’s 2018 Commodore, Mike Dorgan, is eager to welcome PV racers in March. “We are extremely excited to host the 2018 Puerto Vallarta Race with a record size fleet including sailors from around the world heading south on that magical 1000-mile downwind sleigh ride to the warm waters of Mexico! This edition of the PV Race, first started back in 1953, has many returning professional and amateur teams looking to defend their titles or create new ones. This competitive history, combined with several newcomers to the race, will make for a great mix.”

Upon arriving in Puerto Vallarta, event sponsor Ullman Sails will greet finishing boats with a mariachi band, food, and drinks. The Commodore’s Cocktail Party for Skippers and Navigators will be the evening of Thursday, March 8th and the Awards Party on Friday, March 9th will be at the Westin Puerto Vallarta. Following the Vallarta Race, many of the sailors racing to Puerto Vallarta will stay to participate in the MEXORC Regatta starting on March 10th in Banderas Bay, Mexico.

The sailing community, friends and family can follow along with the action throughout the event by tuning in to the race tracker via YB Tracking. Trackers will update hourly, and will show positions on a 4 hour delay. Updates from SDYC will be published to and via Twitter @SDYC1886.