Vallarta Race: Waterboarding for records

Published on March 7th, 2018

Twenty-eight teams started the 34th running of the San Diego to Vallarta International Yacht Race, with two vastly different multihulls amid the field.

The crew on John Gallagher’s Gunboat 62 Chim Chim was going to enjoy warm showers and properly paired wine with meals, while H.L. Enloe’s crew on the ORMA 60 Mighty Merloe was going to get waterboarded along the 1000 nm course.

The good news for Mighty Merloe is they make quick work of the race, finishing before sunset on March 5 for a new elapsed time record of 02:03:48:21, reducing the record by 04:20. Will Suto previously shared Part 1 of the story, so here’s Part 2.


Another San Diego to Puerto Vallarta race on the books for Mighty Merloe, breaking the course record set by the MOD70 Orion in 2014. We remember that race well, as we finished behind Orion after suffering our first major structural failure on the boat: a broken foil.

Luckily owner H.L. Enloe has plenty of experience with complicated engineering and boatbuilding projects after a few decades of owning extreme boats. So over the past four years, we’ve gradually strengthened the boat and the team, so it was a special moment having this benchmark to measure progress.

After my last update, we had a fairly painless crossing through the lee of Baja, with a few hours of light wind but never parking. We knew this would be a crucial transition, so we spent time before the race analyzing previous weather models with Peter Isler and Chris Bedford to come up with some strategy bullet points for getting through.

Navigator Artie Means put us in the right spot when the time came, we caught the right shift and building breeze in the gulf, and enjoyed a glorious day of deep reaching all the way to Banderas Bay. We averaged 30 knots for several hours and had some beautiful sustained rips in the mid-30s.

Now the boat and crew have all had a rinse and a few good meals in Puerto Vallarta and are happily awaiting the arrival of our friends on the other boats.

Thanks to the folks from San Diego Yacht Club for hosting a great regatta and meeting us in the customs harbor with burritos.

Note: Will uploaded a video using Garmin’s 360 camera from the last reaching portion of the leg across the Sea of Cortez to the finish… click here.


Mighty Merloe needed to finish by 9:15 PM (PST) on March 5 to break the course record of 02:08:33 set in 2014 by Tom Siebel’s MOD70 trimaran Orion.

Event informationRace detailsEntry listTrackerPhotos

Note: The race tracker is on a four hour delay.

Update: Nine of the 27 teams still competing are reported as finished as of 16:47 PST on March 7, with Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio100 elapsed time of 3:06:58 not quite enough to beat the monohull race record of 03:05:41 his team set in 2016.

Background: The 34th running of the San Diego to Vallarta International Yacht Race has 28 entrants competing on the 1000nm course from San Diego, USA to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The biennial event in 2018 has staggered starts on March 1 (Div 7), 2 (Div 4/5/6), and 3 (Div 0/1/3).

Through the history of the race, the destination has changed over the 65 years, from Acapulco, to Manzanillo, Mazatlan and now Puerto Vallarta. Starting in San Diego Bay off of Shelter Island, the course proceeds 1,000 miles passing Baja California, and finishes off of Punta Mita in beautiful Banderas Bay, Mexico.

The multihull race record of 02:08:33 was set in 2014 by Tom Siebel’s MOD70 trimaran Orion. The monohull race record of 03:05:41 was set by Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio100 in 2016.

At the conclusion of the race, sailors, family and friends relax and enjoy the very best the Mexican Rivera has to offer. Many also stay for fantastic inshore buoy and random leg racing around Banderas Bay at MEXORC 2018 which starts on March 10.

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