Southbound slide to Puerto Vallarta

Published on January 29th, 2018

The 2018 Vallarta Race has attracted 30 boats for the 1000nm course from San Diego to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Three days of starts will launch the teams off of Shelter Island in San Diego Bay, with a new cruising class starting March 1 while the rest of the fleet starts on March 2 and 3.

The surge of entries for the 34th edition marks the most boats for the race since 2002, and the third most ever since the course concluded in Puerto Vallarta.

Most entries are from California and Mexico though some competitors will travel from as far as Houston, TX, Orchard Lake, MI, Bethesda, MD, Newport, RI, Omaha, NE, and Lima, Peru to participate. The fleet ranges in size from the 100 foot Bakewell 100, Rio100, down to Fractions, a 35 foot 1D35 Turbo along with Mighty Merloe, an ORMA 60, the fastest Trimaran on the West Coast.

Steve Meheen will race the 2018 Vallarta Race on his new Botin 80, El Cabrón. Built by the renowned yachtsman Karl Kwok in 2014, the boat is the former Beau Geste. The 2018 Vallarta Race will be El Cabrón’s maiden voyage.

“El Cabrón is a very light weight 80 footer, and we are looking forward to having a lot of fun while racing it. We won our division in the PV16 race with our RP63, Aszhou, and had a great time. However, we have put some miles on Aszhou in the last two years, and decided to move up a notch.”

There have been a handful of winners who have won the race twice, however, no owner has ever won the Vallarta Race three times. Two-time overall winner Dennis Pennell (2006 and 2012) with his team on Blue Blazes (R/P 50) could complete this feat in 2018. The Kernan 70, Peligroso, has won twice (2008 and 2010) though the ownership has changed.

Larry Landry, Dave Siwicki, Marty Roesch, and Paul McDowell will be first time participants of the Vallarta Race on their Mills 68 Prospector. Based on the East Coast, the team has participated in the Transatlantic, Middle Sea, Caribbean 600, Fastnet, Pineapple Cup, and Marblehead to Halifax regattas.

“This year we have decided to try our hand on the West Coast and beyond with the Vallarta Race being one of the centerpieces of our campaign this year,” explained McDowell. “We are not only looking forward to experiencing this terrific race, but we also plan to use it as a bit of a training ground for the PacCup later this summer.

“We love the point to point races and there is something really great about starting in one country and finishing in another. It will be challenging for us as this will be our first significant distance race in the Pacific, but we hope to be up to the task. The boat is terrific so if we can keep her going fast and pointed in the right direction, we will let the results take care of themselves.”

Embracing 21st century technology, the Race Committee will employ a virtual finish this year. Instead of the traditional physical finish line marked by a vessel on station, boats will cross a ‘geofence’, a digital line marked by two waypoints on a map, located in between Punta Mita and Islas Marietas.

“The reliability and accuracy of the YB Trackers has been tested over and over, and can be relied on,” says PV Race Officer Jeff Johnson. “Further, the new finish location avoids many of the shoals and light air associated with the old finish boat location that has concerned competitors in the past.”

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