PV Race: Testing the fun meter

Published on March 10th, 2020

(March 10, 2020) – While the 2020 San Diego to Vallarta International Yacht Race was not anticipated to be a record-breaker, the 1000nm course from San Diego, USA to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is exceeding those expectations… in the wrong way.

On the race course, boats running their polars with the latest grib files to assess their ETA are not liking the answer. While each boat makes the most of the conditions they find themselves in, they will be having ‘that discussion’ which balances a competitive and Corinthian effort against room nights and airline departures.

There is no time limit for this race, so that’s not a consideration. The organizing authority feels if someone decides to commit the effort to the race, they should be allowed to finish. There just might not be anyone around to celebrate with.

The awards banquet on March 13 will proceed as planned, and awards that are mathematically secure will be handed out. It’s not ideal, but these logistics are all but changeable.

The winds for today have been teasing competitors down the course. For now, boats within 20 miles of the coast will live and die by the thermal winds washing on and off shore like the waves. It appears that the ‘inside’ track this year is now offering only pennies on the dollar for effort.

Those that have maintained a steeled commitment to course rhumbline, are making maximum speed to the finish. The players on the outside (100+ miles offshore) and in the back are threatened with some more disheartening beating into a light southeasterly before things look up later today / tomorrow.

From their outside position, they have some tough geometry getting around Cabo San Lucasand heading up another 15 degrees to port to lay the finish at Punta Mita. Watch the angles of boats in the back of the race. If they are pointing at Baja, they are probably tacking…in the light winds. They will need lots of care when they reach the finish. It’s a ‘mental’ kind of rough out there.

Tomorrow should be ‘better’, and the further south a boat is positioned, the better it will be through the following morning. Yet some models are showing one more ‘beat down’ with light air and an expanded ‘no go’ zone south of Cabo for midday into evening on March 12.

That ‘event’ will be a decider for several boats with respect to the ‘discussion’ we spoke of earlier. The forecasts for the night of March 12 and all day on March 13 promote the breeze of dreams to develop and power those still racing towards the finish.

The highlight for today is ‘the catch’ as ORR-1 leader Pyewacket, Roy Disney’s Volvo 70 has finally overhauled the Day 1 starter and ORR-6 leader Bill Hardesty’s Hobie 33 Sizzle, for the first to finish pole position.

In 2018, 100-foot Rio overhauled Class 6 Marjorie, a Beneteau 48 about the same time in the race but was half way across the Gulf of California, and 125 miles from the finish at ‘the catch’. Pyewacket has 367 miles to go, but is pointed right at the finish.

Elsewhere in Division 1, the scratch boat in the race, Steve Meheens Botin 80 Cabron, was bow to bow with Pyewacket for the first 48 hours down the course but needed to do something different. They rolled the dice for an inland track and came up snake eyes. Not a good thing.

And local MX favorite Viva Mexico, a Volvo 65 skippered by Eric Brockmann, hung it way out to sea (100+ nm) and drew even with shorebound Cabron. But she is now trying to stay out of the high pressure band dealing those light southeasterly winds.

Overall race leader, the Santa Cruz 70 Grand Illusion, is playing in the middle, and keeping their cards close. Commentary from the boat during the required 0600 position is limited to speed and barometric pressure. That’s what a game face looks like to Race Committee.

Other class leaders are hard to figure. There are a couple of formulas that take different paths to the finish, and predict a boat’s speed over that course with different amounts of optimism.

Report from Randy Smith on Farr 87 Sapphire Knight:
—TWS 6.5 TWD 002 BSP 7.2—
We have had another successful 24 hours and continue to fight hard with regular changes from A2, R1, drifter, rinse, repeat. Our plan from the beginning was to sail the fewest miles possible. We are now 100 miles from Cabo and studying all the various grib files to see what the plan is to get through Cabo and into the Sea of Cortez train to PV.

We have sailed a similar track to Bretwalda 3 and we are lined up on the front row with B3 25 miles inside of us and the Pyewacket 70 juggernaut 40 miles outside of us sailing hot. It appears that after early predictions of a wide rounding at Cabo, most are now aiming for a close rounding. Whomever gets through the gate first will be gone on the train to PV. We are still happy with our lane and approach plan. Sizzle is on the beach so we know what their plan is…hopefully they are right.

We had a bit of a spirited debate yesterday on Sapphire Knight amongst the crew. With five heads and showers, some are on a mission to try every one to compare the different features. Others have found the one they like and are sticking with it. Each one has a custom space with seat and glass shower door, European designer fixtures and what appears to be and endless supply of hot water.

I asked for a fresh towel today from our stewardess Caroline and she happily gave me a freshly laundered bath sheet. Time to sign off as chicken quesadillas are now being served at the cockpit dining table.

Wish us luck for the money-making part of this race track. Hopefully tomorrow I will be typing this ripping along at 12 kts on the train to PV.

Report from Nathalie Criou on 33-foot Beneteau Figaro 2 Envolée:
Beating upwind all night – light air battle and ultimately we will see if staying inside can pay any dividends. Boats in our division (ORR-6) all took inside routes except for the Cal 40 but two front boats didn’t get the door closing right in front of them. Faster boats coming behind can justify getting 100 miles offshore for slightly more pressure but the entire race course was light air last night.

Just saw a humpback whale – temperature finally rising but sun super timid. We have figured out how to make mochas on board and this has become our morning staple. All systems go and leeward weight really important. Everything is eerily silent on the boat as we focus hard except for the occasional ‘hey Hermano!’ on the VHF.

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The 2020 San Diego to Puerto Vallarta International Yacht Race got underway on March 5 for five teams in ORR-6 as they began the 1,000nm course from San Diego, USA to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Staggered starts continued on March 6 for 16 teams in ORR-3,4,5 and March 7 for eight entrants in ORR-1,2.

The multihull race record of 02:03:48 was set in 2018 by H.L. Enloe’s ORMA 60 Mighty Merloe. The monohull race record of 03:05:41 was set by Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio100 in 2016.

Source: SDYC, Scuttlebutt

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