Vallarta Race heats back up after light Monday night

Tuesday, Feb 23, 08:29:29 - Mighty Merloe crossed the finish line in 67.8 hrs (2 days, 19 hr, 49 min, 29 sec). After a 36 hour run unlike any other from San Diego to Cabo, the second half of their journey was an exercise in getting through the lee of Cabo, build speed down the course, and staying on which ever tack (yep - beating is what you get approaching at night) to keep best speed to the finish despite the light north and east winds blowing out of Banderas Bay through the night. The trimaran crew hoped to get across the line overnight, but it was not to be. During the customs and immigration layover in the cruise ship basin, the crew scarfed down a batch of local tortas. Unlike some of the other fine dining occurring on Vallarta Race boats, Mighty Merloe's meals during racing kept basic and to a minimum. Owner HL Enloe was in great spirits upon arrival commended the crew, and looked forward to some time in Vallarta.

As Tuesday goes on, the breeze has held up and continues guiding the fleet of 20 racing boats beyond Cabo and to the approach to Banderas Bay. The next to finish will be Rio100, projecting a 1800 finish and arrival at the Navy pier in Vallarta under moonlight near midnight local time. Unlike Mighty Merloe's tacking battle to the finish, Rio100 has had a much more direct line with their arrival occurring during daytime.

Blue Blazes is in the middle of a three-way contest for Div 4 with Foil, and Timeshaver. Timeshaver went Maverick (Top Gun reference) on Cabo and did a flyby to wave at the people on the beach, take pictures and otherwise enjoy themselves. However, that adventure has set them up 35 nm north of their rivals. Time will tell.

Tactician John Craig on Blue Blazes summed up the challenge in a short post to the RC after 0600, Tues 2/23:

“Wow, what a fun 70 hour sail to Cabo followed by the challenging Cabo cone of death where we finally got into what we do best. We skirted the zone pretty well and at 1800 last night broke free into a 330 deg right shift and jibed onto port headed for the barn. Nav-lights astern got us excited and back in focus , especially when we realized it was Rio100. GAME ON.

We sailed on a nice 275 deg knock for the last 6 hrs which has given us some good below the "rum" line leverage. It's 0300 now and we just stepped into a 340 Deg rightie, jibed onto port and are headed once again for Punta Mita which is 175 miles away. (only 2 Ensenadas to go). Life is good on board and after the Captain issued extra shots at happy hour last night the crew has caught up on needed sleep and are in high spirits."

The Div 3 show features a race of the pairs: leaders Lucky Duck driving low and Horizon, taking the high road are almost 50 miles ahead of the other two pairs. J World's Hula Girl is just 5 miles in front of Deception. Hula Girl also managed to put some miles on the Santa Cruz duo of Hana Ho and Sin Duda! today, extending a 7 mile lead to 15 by 1600 Tuesday. I think they would agree sailing with a buddy makes the teams work harder...? I'm sure they have an opinion.

Karl Grunewald aboard Lucky Duck described their position Tuesday morning:

“The leading yachts are currently converging on the finish, spread north to south with the Lucky Duck the most southern yacht. Lighter winds near the finish line at night may provide one last opportunity for advancement. For the moment we are powered up with the Code Zero, Gennaker Staysail, and full Main; sailing at 97 degrees Magnetic at 9 knots, in warm air and pleasant sunshine. Planning to see those of you in PV by sunrise [Wednesday]”

In the sled class (70'er), Pyewacket and Holua seemed to become one on the track at around the beginning of Tuesday, and play the 'close to Cabo' approach. Rolling the tracker forwards and backwards, it looks like their choice earned them 3 and 4 kts vs Runaway, Grand Illusion and Condor just 15 miles further south of their track doing twice that speed. Still, Pyewacket seems to have hit the next gear and has pulled 30ish miles in front of Holua for Div 2 lead.

In Division 1, Race Committee is awaiting Rio100's finish, estimated to be Tuesday evening sometime. In the meantime, 250 miles astern, TP52 Patches is negotiating the approach of the Cabo Conundrum, something Aszhou looks to have done very well with the choice of taking a north pass of Cabo thrusting them past five boats today with their eye on Lucky Duck next.

Thank you Icarus Sailing Media for a look at the start of the 2016 Vallarta Race in San Diego as part of their promotion efforts for the FMV Cup.