Vallarta Race: Fast Start for First Start

Published on February 20th, 2016

The 32nd running of the Vallarta Race, a 1000nm course from San Diego, USA to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, began February 19 for the smaller boats in the 21-boat field. In that group is the SC50 J World’s Hula Girl, with skipper Wayne Zittel filing this report on February 20…

You couldn’t really ask for a better start to an offshore race than we have had. Our fleet has four Santa Cruz 50s and two 52s, so by virtue of the similar boats we expect it to be close sailing. Furthermore, the level of talent on these boats is truly impressive, and, well, I think were are going to have some fierce competition. Close, fierce sailing? Our work is cut out for us!

Here on Hula Girl, we have a mix of sailors from around North America and a team of J/World coaches to oversee the operations. This is real world offshore training at it’s finest… the best way to learn is by doing!

Divisions 3 and 4 started yesterday (Friday) under clear skies off the tip of Shelter Island in San Diego Bay. The breeze was a fine Westerly in the 12-14 knot range and both groups had a nice reach out to the Pacific along beautiful Point Loma. We had a good start down at the favored pin end of the line, and were able to lead our pack out the Bay.

As our fleets cleared the shifty/gusty stretches near Ballast point, the first spinnakers went up, and I do believe our whole fleet had set spinnakers before we reached the ocean, with the exception of Deception who opted for their Code 0.

The breeze had filled across the whole course, so our pack of boats all sailed a line shoreward of the Coronado Islands. It can be risky if the winds are not solid, but it is closer to the rhumbline, and yesterday this was clearly the fast call. One by one, boats peeled from their reachers to the runners, and we were off.

All afternoon, our fleet drag-raced south. Lucky Duck (SC52) punched out to an early lead. Horizon (SC50) was next with us just off their weather hip. We worked had to reel them in, but had a bit of stubborn kelp on the keel that we absolutely could not shake.

As forecast, the 16-18 knots we saw in the afternoon built to 20-22 in the evening, and we had a beautiful sail. This is the stuff sailors’ dreams are made of. A big moon, a fun fast boat, a solid downwind breeze. The water seems alive, like a million black and silver fish darting around in schools.

Down below is a strange duet of hissing water rushing long the outside of the hull, and the groans of a loaded boat and hardware. Hula Girl scooted wonderfully along, spending long stretches around 12 knots, surfing up over 14 at times. Apparently there was quite a dolphin show last night too, but alas I must have been asleep.

The breeze had veered a bit by this morning, so we gybed at first light. We are currently pointed more or less at Cedros Island. We have a little bit of time left as of this writing, but we are projecting a first day’s run of about 240 miles. Not too shabby for our first day racing together!

More soon from the Huligans….

Race websiteEntry listTrackingTwitter

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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