Horizon Wins Vallarta Race 2016

Published on February 25th, 2016

(February 25, 2016) – John Schulze’s Horizon (SC50) won the 32nd running of the Vallarta Race, a 1000nm course from San Diego, USA to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Finishing yesterday, their elapsed time of 4 days, 13 hour, 52 minutes, 19 seconds earned them the Division 3 and Overall title. Second overall was Division 2 winner Roy Disney’s Pyewacket (Andrews 70) with Dave MacEwan’s Lucky Duck (SC52) finishing second in Division 3 and third Overall.

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Winning team on Santa Cruz 50 Horizon

The 2016 edition of the Vallarta Race was a tale of two races. As sailors reached the dock in Marina Vallarta, their stories were told with similar emphasis on the contrast between the two halves. A run from San Diego to Cabo like none other, and then attempting to avoid the holes and minimize the light air that most boats encountered in the Sea of Cortez crossing and approach to PV.

While this may be the typical conditions to be expected on any Vallarta Race, the extremes which were seen in 2016 were unique. Boats like Gordon Leon’s Farr 40 Flyer reached 22 knots and were rocking and rolling on the first half, while even the trimaran Mighty Merloe fell victim to the shutdown of breeze on the second half approach to the finish, floating along at 2-3 knots at times.

Rio100 with its crew of 19 set the monohull course record, sailing the course in 77.7 hours, which eclipsed the 2010 record of 80.67 hours set by Bill Turpin’s Akela. Owner Manouch Moshayedi and captain Keith Kilpatrick have been sailing the boat since November 2014 where they started with a crew of 26 and have been optimizing it over the years to a typical 18. Yet even with a record-breaking performance, Rio100 owed too much time to fellow Division 1 boats and finished 4th in class.

The overall regatta winner came down to the John Schulze’s Santa Cruz 50 Horizon who finished just after 2:00 AM on Wednesday (Feb 24) as the third monohull and second Friday starter across the line, and Roy Disney’s Pyewacket. With the last miles of the race stretched out in front of the Andrews 70, the crew of Pyewacket thought they had enough to finish in time but didn’t quite find enough wind during the approach to the finish, and ended up just under 2 corrected hours behind Horizon, finishing second overall.

Horizon was sailed by owner John Schulze, Len Bose, John Busch, Craig Chamberlain, Stan Gibbs, Jeff Thorpe, Gunnar Torre, and Grant Wooden.

Schulze has sailed Horizon in the recent Transpac, Newport to Ensenada Race and Cabo races, and described his first experience sailing the Puerto Vallarta Race.

“Well it was an excellent race. We had really great crew work and had good navigation, and good conditions all the way down. It was my first Puerto Vallarta Race and I really liked it. We’re definitely thanking the Mexican authorities for allowing us to race to Puerto Vallarta.

“We had a number of points where we had wind transitions where we had to decide which way to go, especially in the Sea of Cortez. That was the most challenging part, figuring out how to get past the light spots in the course once we turned the corner in Cabo.

“Lucky Duck is a great competitor for us, another Santa Cruz boat, so we were protecting our position with Lucky Duck because she was just ahead of us getting into Cabo last year, and we enjoy racing against her. Next for us is the California Offshore Race Week, which starts in San Francisco and ends in San Diego.”

In Division 1, new SDYC member and new owner of the R/P 63 previously know as Invisible Hand, Steve Meheen’s Aszhou was the top in class with an excellent performance, completing the course in the 3rd fastest time at 3 ds, 14 hrs, 53 min, 58 sec. In addition to some experienced offshore ocean racers and navigators, Aszhou had a few Navy SEALS on board who got a taste of the offshore racing experience.

This year’s Vallarta Race provided Roy Disney with his next opportunity to continue his lifelong passion for offshore racing, as he sailed the Vallarta Race for the 7th time. Disney was basically born sailing, taking on the passion of his father that has led him to sail Transpac 22 times in addition to other world wide offshore races. Disney described Pyewacket’s PV Race with glowing remarks about the city of Puerto Vallarta and the competitive west coast Sled class.

“[The Vallarta Race] is always a winter race, and SDYC timed it with the full moon. We had (wore) sunglasses at night, it was really unbelievable out there. We had tons of sea life, breaching whales, and dolphins and tuna boils and the fisherman on the boat went crazy. We had a great run down to just short of Cabo, rolled the dice, and got lucky at the cape. We had a beautiful sail across which is kind of what this is all about. And then ran into a ripple but there are things that are in your control and things that are not in your control. We sailed a great race, we have a great group of guys, and had some amazing competition. Holua (SC70) was within site all the way down to the cape. Literally 100 yards apart all night the night before we got there (here). That’s just great racing, that’s what this is all about. And then God rolled the dice.”

Pyewacket finished first in Division 2 against 4 other sleds: Runaway (Hector Velarde), Grand Illusion (James McDowell), Holua (Brack Duker) and Condor (Lindy Thomas).

“The Sled class is such a remarkable, vibrant class because the one’s that keep their boats up to date are very, very competitive still to this day. Holua is as fast or faster than we are down wind, which cuts our work out for us.

“I’ve done this race 7 times now and I’ve been on the other end of this thing too, you just rack up the experience over time. It’s a gorgeous race. This is the best, if you’re not working for the Mexican tourism bureau, the most beautiful city on the coast here by far. So it’s a wonderful place to end up. Everybody looks forward to it. I think the race is less about the other guys than it is about getting here. And San Diego Yacht Club ran a great program. They absolutely did. They thought of everything, they were very organized.”

Division 3 consisted of four Santa Cruz 50s (including overall winner Horizon) and two Santa Cruz 52s. Half of the fleet finished within minutes of each other in a rare site after 1,000 mile race. J World’s Hula Girl was the 2nd of the 4 Santa Cruz 50s to finish the race. Zittel who has spent years racing all over the Pacific shared his thoughts prior to crossing the finish line.

“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.”

Division 4 was won by SDYC’s Dennis Pennell and the crew of Blue Blazes. Pennell is a 2x recent winner of the Vallarta Race, had a great time with many of his regular crew aboard the R/P 50, and leaves the boat in great condition after the 1000 mile race.

San Diego Yacht Club will be looking forward to 2018, presenting what will be the 33rd edition of the Vallarta Race.

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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.

Source: SDYC

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