whimsy at water’s edge

yachting and regatta articles: best gear for sailors, dazzling boats, divine times on wooden boats, clothing for cruisers, boat tips and more

MEXORC 2024, PV Race Big Action, Less Wind

Mar 19, 2024 | Sailing, Editorial, Travel

2024 MEXORC 2024 and PV Race 2024 recap appearing in Latitude 38 April issue.

The San Diego Yacht Club (SDYC) served up a 1,000-mile Puerto Vallarta Race to crews from February 22 to March 1. Since 1953, this SD to PV biennial has made miles of memories. At the 37th annual, Roy P. Disney and crew on Andrews 68 Pyewacket (ORR 2) earned first overall. The vessel realized average wind speed of 9+ knots and sailed least number of miles to complete the course (1092 nm; 25 miles fewer than the race average). Having won this race in 1992, 1998, 2018 and now 2024, Disney sets a new record for claiming the PV Race Overall more times than any other competitor.

Second overall was earned by RP 52 Vitesse (ORR 3); third to RP 51 Zero Gravity 51 (ORR 3); fourth to D/K 68 Peligroso (ORR 2), and Bakewell White 100 Rio 100 (ORR 1) took fifth. Things measured light on the breeze scale. The largest and fastest boat, Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio 100 (ORR 1), saw corrected time approximately two minutes slower than corrected time for the slowest boat (Figaro 33) in 2022 action. This year, Rio was first to finish (elapsed) and also corrected time winner with arrival Wednesday morning–a day ahead of others. Rio’s elapsed was 14 more hours than 2022 time. Of 21 starters, 20 finished on Thursday, with one the day before and one just an hour and a half into Friday.

Little Wind for Big Boats

At the start, ORR 1 bigger boats received wind which barely topped more than three knots, and was mostly west-southwest close to the line; by the time boats 1 crossed to commence, winds had faded to a whisper. Said Moshayedi, “The first three days were challenging with little to no wind. In fact, for the first four hours we sat in zero-zero-zero. Fortunately, in the last 24 hours of the race we saw 22 to 24 knots of wind and our top boat speed reached more than 27 knots.”

All three classes made slow progress seaward in a relatively swift 1.5 knot ebb. SDYC Waterfront Director Jeff Johnson said, “Watching the YB trackers, their speed and direction plots indicate that a west-southwest breeze filled in, and before dinner they were sailing again, albeit still modestly, towards Puerto Vallarta. The Saturday fleet ended up sailing four hours hugging the coastline to pass the Coronado Islands just across the Mexican border, about twice as long as the Thursday and Friday starters spent on the same portion.”

With wind and speed rising on the course, Race Committee speculated that BadPak and GoodEnergy could potentially place above Rio (due to ratings owed time), but the clock ran out for contenders; BadPak crossed more than one full day after Moshayedi. Roughly one hour later, George Hershman and Mark Comings’ R/P 63 GoodEnergy arrived.

New Offshore Finish

Explained Johnson, “There were several weather systems that rolled across different parts of the course over the six-day duration. The times and durations and boats affected is a multifaceted account that I would not attempt to represent: four knots of wind for some boats results in drifting (0 knots boat speed), while others are able to effect four knots of boat speed–effectively sailing at the same speed as wind. Boats that went 60 nm south of Cabo San Lucas came together more than less equal with boats that were only 30 nm south.

There were gains and losses all across the course for all competitors. A new offshore finish line was set near Roca Corbettena–15 nm further out to sea versus the traditional finish at Punta Mita. Well-received, it will be used again for the 2026 edition.” The biggest surprise was the close finishing, despite the light air. It compressed all fleets and racers tried to shave every minute from the time clock.

Competitors starting on Thursday and Friday had better breeze and a fresh westerly. In ORR 6, Barry Clark of Blackwing stuck the start. Having taken delivery just two weeks prior, his Grand Soleil 44 became pacemaker until Tuesday, when the wind shut off in his zone; skipper notes their Starlink connection was lost on Sunday. Minus access to weather information, he gambled on where to move the boat, feeling that a more educated decision could have helped him preserve the lead.

Winds eventually filled and crew saw speeds ticking higher. In fact, “There was a span of time when we actually reefed the main—winds clocking more than 20 knots.” The crew of seven tagged finish on leap day during brunch hours, logging a bit less than seven days. Second-to-finish was David Garman on Such Fast with 7:07:30:19. Spread on corrected time between these two was roughly six hours. En route, Blackwing mates counted spinner dolphins, plus a fin whale. For fowl, they reported plenty birds; for foul, they spied a floating baled item in the water.

San Diego to Puerto Vallarta is Great Fun

Said Clark, “The PV race is great fun. It’s wonderful to participate in these two events and experience the Mexican culture plus interact with such a friendly set of people.” Blackwing remained for MEXORC racing, and lauds the pink boat Dreadnought (Capri 37) as being incredibly fun and lively. This mostly female crew attracted plenty attention with its infectious laughter and kind spirit.

In 2022, Velos (ORR 5) won its class at both the PV Race and MEXORC 2024–but sans owner Kjeld Hestehave who was unable to make the trip. As this year’s edition approached, Chuck Skewes made sure crew was ready to repeat the 2022 wins with Hestehave present. Said Skewes, “As we came closer to the start day we knew it would be a tough one–with light breezes predicted. Velos is the heaviest boat.” He says that the SD to PV fleet was very close on corrected  the entire time down the coast, constantly changing leaders and positions.

“When we hit Cabo San Lucas, the models were inconsistent so we gambled on getting through the shadow, trying to reach the Sea of Cortez by sailing less distance. This paid for a short time, but left us in light air for nine hours; boats that headed south, gained. Nearing the finish, we were in position to achieve second, but another light air disturbance took the more northly boats, and both Good Call and Amazing Grace found better routes.” Velos placed third.

The unfortunate spotlight at the PV Race landed on Aaron Wangenheim of City Lights (ORR 4). Crew hit the start in fair breeze Friday and was making decent progress before reaching doldrums. Of time stalled, Key Royal said, “It felt like we spent 12 years in irons.” Quickly correcting the statement to: “12 hours.” Beset with a broken water maker, inconsistent Starlink connection and span of stillness, the question came up on whether to risk continuing or to turn back. At approximately the one-third mark Cedros Island, and even with back-up water supply, the group decided to swing north.

Despite time taken to journey home, Royal was seen circling the Friday buffet (having flown down ASAP). This year’s dinner was held on the beach at the Vamar Vallarta with a welcome by an all-female mariachi band, buffet and brilliant orange-crimson sunset.

MEXORC 2024 Commences

MEXORC 2024 Commenced Next Day on Banderas Bay, March 2 to 6 Marina Vallarta YC hosted, with support from Acapulco Yacht Club, San Diego YC and the PV Race. Ratings were ORR and included windward/leeward, plus two long coastal runs. This event almost did not happen due to last October’s Category 5 Hurricane Otis. Said race chairman Ricardo Brockmann O’Hea, “In November we held a special meeting to decide whether or not to run the event, quickly voting to proceed and honor Acapulco.

View MEXORC 2024 photo album.

Sailing is a big part of our yacht club, and MEXORC 2024 became our motivation to get the racers racing again and let the Acapulco people know we are back.” Boats to participate in both regattas included BadPak, Blackwing, Ground Hog Day, It’s OK, Saga, Such Fast, Westerly and Velos.

Breezing in for an ORR 3 win was Linda Sweet on Olas Lindas. Skipper cleaned the clock by a wide margin at day three’s Las Marrietas course, courtesy strong winds and a team where, “Many of us have local knowledge regarding when to take advantage of the shifts up and down the coastline.”

This day has boats start together. “It’s a challenge when all of these experienced racers across the three divisions converge at the same time. Our start was clean, and we focused on clear air which became easier to find as the larger boats quickly moved up the course.” Sweet bested second place crew2 (Capri 37) with Ernesto Amtmann, and third spot Por La Vida (J111) with Jeffrey Davies.

Day two, Seattle racer David Garman of Such Fast (ID35, ORR 3) got a smack from a starboard tack mere seconds after the horn. Competitor Belat (Capri 37) made an immediate right on the course, and Garman asserts it was fewer than eight seconds until contact was made. “I had no options.” He added, “Luckily there were no injuries, but it took several moments to clear apart.” The other boat continued on; Such Fast was forced to retire. While day three racers hit the course, crew made fixes to stanchions, replaced a turnbuckle, patched a port side gouge and taped over several areas port-side.

Fired up and ready for final competition days, Garman was all smiles giving the pit a vigorous scrub Wednesday, commenting, “We’ve been doing lousy, absolutely awful,” citing a few reasons why their record stood at 8 and 8 in a field of eight. Things took a turn for the better, and crew ended on a higher note—earning a second, then fourth in final races. Such Fast also competed in the PV Race, landing a 21 in a fleet of 21. He missed the party, “But that’s boat racing.”

Velos remained for the MEXORC 2024 event. Arriving in PV, a revised crew immediately headed out for practice. “We sailed SD to PV with 11 people, but on windier buoy races we sail with 24. We were the only true displacement boat in our class: if conditions did not allow the other boats to plane, we felt we had a chance,” stated Skewes. Velos fared excellently, with the clan repeating its 2022 win, plus earning overall for the Las Marrietas course. “It was very close racing with a few runs separated less than three seconds apart against a very competitive Westerly.”

That 30-mile course was also tops for Vincitore (ORR 2). “Definitely a day to remember,” said Brockmann O’Hea, “Where we executed a perfect race from start to finish, working the boat to be always fast. This put helped us stay in front of the fleet.” The Swan 42 is crewed by a family who has done MEXORC since the ‘90s (17 editions) and counts Ricardo (father): helm; Rosita (mother): pit; Ricky: tactics; Erik: pit; sister Aileen, plus friend and 20-year MEXORC racer Steve Malowney (SDYC).

Of note, Erik was skipper for Viva México 2022-23 Ocean Race VO65. “This was a week with most days seeing typical conditions and winds above 15 knots. There were, however, two races where the wind faded and made our class compress and move results around. It was great competing with Nimbus and Ruahatu—both very similar boats to Vincitore; the podium was not decided until the last race.”

In summary, Canadia-expat Sweet offers sentiments about action along this coastline, “It’s a great competition with five-day series just long enough to entice previous crew members to fly down and join. MEXORC generally brings in 10-20 knot winds, a variety of courses and sightings of whales frolicking. We race aside some amazing 60 to 70-foot professionally crewed boats that come down from California.” In two years this regatta will hit a milestone, says chairman Brockmann O’Hea. “We are sure to have ready the best MEXORC of all time to celebrate its 50th anniversary.”