Vallarta Race Day 3 brings new conditions and tactical decisions

Puerto Vallarta, MEX (February 22, 2016) - That 'new day' we talked about yesterday... it's here, and so begins the second part of the Vallarta Race.

From MM (0600 report):
Wind 280 @ 7, sea 3', 0 cloud, "...parking lot"!

So consider that as of Monday, 0900 race time, the fleet is stretched approx. 235 nm along the Baja peninsula, plus another 110 miles if you add Mighty Merloe's lead. She is clearly forecasting the future for the fleet.

The fleet's challenges are summed up by this post from Lucky Duck's Karl Grunewald:

“Before GPS navigation was all about knowing your position on the ocean, avoiding errant bits of land and arriving safely at the port of destination. Now, racing navigation has become more like managing the war room. With gathering and vetting data, massaging the data into useful information, and then making appropriate strategic and tactical decisions in a timely fashion.

Arriving near the tip of Baja California and soon the end of the delightful sailing downwind, more challenging conditions and decisions await. Still some distance from Cabo, the considerations include crossing the wind shadow of the tip of the peninsula either very close or some significant distance away; and then positioning for the crossing to the finish in light winds, with a difficult left-over sea. And then, also consider your nearest competition (Horizon) and his strengths and weaknesses.

For the moment, it seems that giving the Baja a wider berth and approaching Puerto Vallarta more from the south will play to the Lucky Duck's strengths. We are still awaiting a bit of a northerly shift in the wind, to allow us to gybe back onto port, for the approach to the Cabo vicinity and the anticipated dying winds.”

Wayne Zittel aboard J World's Hula Girl looks ahead to the looming passing of Cabo after some “beautiful sailing, 18-22 knots of downwind fun and one quick trip down the Baja coast! Albatrosses, whales, dolphins, flying fish, and one sunfish. Enough said... anything further might be construed as bragging. We just think we're lucky out here.”

“We are now on a port pole, a little under 100 miles from Cabo. The breeze is just now dipping under 15 knots for the first time this race. And it's going to get worse. The forecast is showing a light and variable crossing of the Sea of Cortez, with a lot of confused air around Cabo right about the time we get there. So the trick up ahead is going to be to get thru the uglies and into the light (but hopefully present!) breeze in the Sea. Yep, pretty much a standard situation for a PV Race: the closer you go to Cabo, the less distance you sail. If you go out and around, it add on miles but there *might* be more breeze. And this year looks particularly challenging. We did look thru the sailing instructions, hoping that maybe - just maybe - they put a shorten course option in there and we could be sipping margaritas in Cabo this afternoon. But alas, no such luck, so carefully thru the lightness we will go... very much looking forward to Puerto Vallarta (way nicer than Cabo!).”

Important note: The corrected times shown on the YB Tracking Leaderboard are slightly different from official race calculations due to the difference of straight line vs great circle route calculations. Since the earth is not flat (sorry Modern Flat Earth Society), the real distance traveled is more of an arc than a straight line, thus more distance is traveled, more time required, and more math... etc.

And remember the Div 4 Timeshaver / Blue Blazes gybe game from yesterday - over night Timeshaver bet on the inland route skirting along the bays/coast just 10 to 20 miles offshore while Blazes paralleled their course 35 nm further out to sea. I remember Peter Isler saying at the weather briefings... "Bays are bad, points are good..." By 0900 they have come back together at Cabo and are probably within sight of each other (8 nm) with Blazes back in the lead. For sure both crews are working hard. But with the conditions shifting to light upwind work, Blue Blazes is entering her element. Keep an eye on those two.

The racing in Div 2, is no less intense with less than an hour of corrected time separating the top three boats (HoluaPyewacket, and Grand Illusion).

But wait, its even closer in Div 1, with just 10 minutes of corrected time separating the top three (AszhouVincitorePeligroso) so I'm sure they are all paying close attention as well.