SDYC’s Puerto Vallarta Race is 1,000 Miles of Sheer Fun

Anticipation is building for the 2018 Puerto Vallarta Race as race entries begin to roll in. So far, a mix of boats including Santa Cruz 50 and 52s, Pac 52s, TP 52s, and two multihulls will be back for the next installment.

When checking in with a handful of the race’s past competitors, we discovered what the race means to them, why they register year after year, and for some, how it feels to win the event.

Dennis Pennell, skipper of Blue Blazes, will be back in 2018 to attempt a third win. “I have had the good fortune with my Reichel/Pugh 50 Blue Blazes to have been the overall winner in the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta race twice- in 2006 and 2012. In my 60 plus years of racing sailboats those two wins were the highlight of my racing career. I am doing it in 2018 in my 80th year because for me it represents a thousand miles of sheer fun!”

Pennell also shared how the varied conditions of the race course keep things exciting for him and his crew. “The race offers such diversity in wind and sea conditions, from dead calm to screaming along in 35 knots of wind surfing down 12 foot seas. Along with the challenges and thrills are the joy and pleasure of sharing this experience with a wonderful crew and the camaraderie we share as we deal with the different elements of a 1,000 mile race. I can hardly wait for the 2018 start!”

Coming off of breaking the multihull record by over a day at this year’s Transpac, Artie Means, the Navigator on Mighty Merloe, will be back for the 2018 PV Race. “PV is by far my favorite Mexican race. Vallarta still has the unspoiled Mexican character, but combined with great marinas and hotels. At 1,000 miles long, the PV Race is a good distance to get some great downwind sailing before (hopefully) a spectacular reach across the gulf. For anyone looking to race the Transpac or Pacific Cup, PV is the perfect tune-up race. Plus, the MEXORC racing afterwards in Banderas Bay can't be beat anywhere.”

One of Means’ desires for the 2018 race is competition in the multihull division. “Hopefully we can attract a few good multihulls to come race, but either way, Enloe is always aiming to get the course record back from the Orion!”

The 2014 PV Race winner, Bob Pethick, skipper of Bretwalda3, is eager to travel back to the west coast from his home state of Michigan to witness Mexico’s beautiful scenery and waters.

“In my opinion, Puerto Vallarta is just like Cabo but better! We enjoy this race because the wind shadow rounding Cabo introduces a great tactical puzzle. Plus, sailing into PV provides a beautiful view of a mountain-rimmed bay, a great end to a great sail down the coast!”

The Awards Party will be held on Friday, March 9, 2018 and SDYC members are invited to travel to Puerto Vallarta for the race finish and for the opportunity to greet boats as they arrive at Marina Vallarta. Event organizers are working on group arrangements for several hotel options in the area.

If you have an interest in participating in this iconic and exhilarating event down the coast of Mexico, or to see more details on the event in general, visit:

Following the PV Race and beginning on March 11, 2018 will be MEXORC. MEXORC is a week-long regatta pitting the best of Mexico’s big boat sailors against the most intelligent of PV racers who stay for the warm weather, great wind conditions, and close racing in Banderas Bay, Mexico.

For more information on MEXORC please go to