Vallarta Race: A Well-Earned Margarita

Published on February 24th, 2016

The 32nd running of the Vallarta Race, a 1000nm course from San Diego, USA to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, began with staggered starts on February 19 and 20 for the 21-boat field. Here’s a report from February 24 as the fleet sails their final miles…

Manouch Moshayedi and the crew of 19 aboard Rio100 (above) set a new monohull course record of 77.7 hours, finishing the race on February 23 at 18:02:43 PST. The previous record was set in 2010 by Bill Turpin’s R/P 77 Akela at 80.87 hours.

Peter Isler from Holua (SC70), 45 miles from the finish:
So close – but so far. After struggling with nearly 24 straight hours of drifting conditions yesterday – we had (another) a beautiful night sailing fast straight at the mark in a nice 15 knot northwesterly. But 50 miles from the finish line – Mother Nature wasn’t done with us and the wind shut down and we drifted again for another few hours – just to make sure we had figured out how to do it. Finally the sea breeze has started to pull us into PV and everybody on board is looking forward to the finish line.

But enough about our race.

In the big picture this has been a fantastic event, with every boat experiencing some of the most spectacular sailing on the planet. Plus we all got to get into the magic of the shipboard routine… in our case 4 hours on watch, 4 hours off watch. After a couple of days you get the rhythm of the cycle and can get enough rest (if the on watch doesn’t wake you to do a sail change or sleep on the other side of the boat) and really start “living” life at sea.

We are lucky to have this sort of experience and live life a lot like the “olden days” of exploration when sailors set sail for not 3-5 days – but weeks and months at a time. Of course those sailors couldn’t open the freezer and have a Klondike ice cream bar like a few of the crew on Holua just did. I’m going to save my sugar rush for later.

A pod of very small dolphins just swam past to welcome us to Mexico’s west coast – and we had a big bird circling our spinnaker last night for over an hour… it seemed really interested in the “chevrons” (markings to help sail trim) on the luff of the sail. In the moonlight the birds shadow was weird.

Wayne Zittel from J World’s Hula Girl (SC50), 20 miles from the finish:
Wow, what a fantastic run we had down the coast of Baja. Seriously, some pure ‘chamber of commerce’ conditions. Rounding Cabo only saw some brief calms, and the sail across the Sea has been great… really shifty and puffy, but then if we didn’t have sail changes to break up the cockpit chatter, what else would we be doing? We used almost every sail we brought; 5 different spinnakers, a couple of jibs, a jib top, a code 0, and a couple of staysails.

Yesterday we sailed close by a giant manta ray…. huge, wider than the boat I think, some strange cross between prehistoric and futuristic in appearance in the blue blue water. A small terrestrial bird took a rest aboard (and inside!) Hula Girl for a while, then flew on its way. The moonlight last night was borderline unbelievable. Sailing in the night in shorts and t-shirts is such a blast. If we hadn’t had such great nights priming us for this last one, we might not have believed it.

Our mid-day arrival is perfect timing for a Margarita. I hear they are pretty good in these parts. But I’m not taking anyone’s word for it. I’ll check it out myself. And I hope the rest of the crew will join me. It’s been well earned.

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Background: The 32nd running of the Vallarta Race hosts 21 teams competing on the 1000nm course from San Diego, USA to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The biennial event in 2016 has staggered starts with Division 3 and 4 starting February 19 with Division 0, 1, and 2 starting February 20.

The fleet consists of six boats from Southern California while other boats hail from San Francisco Bay, Hawaii, Texas, Chicago, Mexico, and Peru.

The multihull race record of 02:08:33 was set in 2014 by Tom Siebel’s MOD70 trimaran Orion. The monohull race record of 03:08:52 was set in 2010 by Bill Turpin’s R/P 77 Akela.

Upon arrival in Puerto Vallarta, seven of the boats are planning to compete the following week on Banderas Bay in the MEXORC regatta on February 28 to March 5.

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