(San Diego, CA)- It’s just a thousand mile “slide” downwind along the Baja/ Mexican coastline towards Puerto Vallarta. Our own Wayne Zittel, of J/World Sailing School San Francisco, said “So far, the Vallarta Race has been pretty much textbook. We started on Friday in a nice westerly, close reaching past Point Loma and into the Pacific. Before we had gotten to the Coronado Islands we were in the Code 0, then shortly thereafter the first spinnaker came up. We carried the 2A into the night, and wow, what a night!! Steady 12-14 knots and a nearly full moon lit up the slightly cloudy sky. As we work south, the sky gets clearer and the water bluer.” The tracker showed the various sailing teams trading gybes along the Baja peninsula. “The winds have been steady enough but shifty,” notes one sailor, Karen Jewell. “At night, we have plenty of moonlight to keep the spinnaker in check and the stars and Pacific White-Sided Dolphins keep us company. But, there is way too much kelp out here!”
The 32nd edition of the biennial San Diego to Vallarta International Yacht Race started off Shelter Island, with Class 3 and 4 leaving on Friday (Mar. 14) and Class 1, 2, and Multihull departing on Saturday (Mar. 15). Both days provided summer-like conditions for the sailors to begin their 1000nm southerly slide toward beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Tom Siebel’s MOD 70 trimaran set a new course record in what amounted to moderate breezes all the way down the track, finishing is just 2 days 8 hours.
Another report comes from Bill Helvestine’s Santa Cruz 50 Deception, one of HAMACHI’s competitors that were about 100nm behind and have never been able to reel-in the J/125! Commented Bill, “After drifting through another never-ending wind hole, with forecasts of even less wind, a turtle doing laps around the boat, and Expedition telling us we would arrive in Puerto Vallarta sometime in August, we decided to withdraw Wednesday evening while off of Cabo San Lucas.
We had experienced large periods of no wind over the last two days, and the gribs (weather files) showed little hope for improvement during the rest of the week. With over 300 miles to go to PV as the crow flies (and likely many more miles of actual sailing), we were concerned about even finishing by the time limit on Saturday night.” So, they ended up motor-sailing with the main up, doing about 7.5 knots, headed for Puerto Vallarta and completing the MEXORC.
Their story was an accurate depiction of what was taking place in the race, especially for those sailing closer to the Baja Peninsula, where the heating and cooling of the land plays mean tricks on the wind.
After the start and for the next four days, the J/125 HAMACHI was steadily sailing at a 1st in Class and 1st Overall ORR position. They kept trading places with the Rogers 46 in front of them for the ensuing 36 hours to the finish as they crossed from Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, across the gulf, to the finish line off the westernmost cape of Bahia de Banderas, west of Puerto Vallarta.
As the only J/Team sailing, it was quite a performance. Having assembled an all-star cast of mostly offshore & dinghy sailors from the Seattle area, Fritz Lanzinger’s tenacious Corinthian YC crew aboard the J/125 HAMACHI made a hell of a go at winning both class and overall. Having top guns aboard like Jonathan McKee (yes, one of the famous McKee Brothers) and Trevor Baylis (Aussie 18 specialist from San Francisco) likely helped the crew sail at over 90% most of the time, playing the gybing angles fortuitously and staying in the hunt.
Team HAMACHI crossed the line at dusk on Wednesday, finishing at 18:02:12 PDT. Hamachi had a great run Wednesday, avoiding the wind holes that held up much of the fleet closer to Cabo and put themselves in a great position to win the upcoming MEXORC Regatta being sailed on Bahia de Banderas.
What’s remarkable about their race is they finished about 10 hours behind a custom 46 footer and missed corrected time honors by just 13 minutes! Oh my goodness, one can only imagine how many places the HAMACHI crew felt they could’ve made up that time! Nevertheless, an astonishing performance in a light-airs downwind slide to Puerto Vallarta for the J/125. Sailing photo credits- San Diego YC/ Bob Betancourt For more HAMACHI Sailing team information, please visit their Facebook page. For more San Diego Vallarta Race sailing information