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2024 Puerto Vallarta Race at San Diego Yacht Club - Day 1

by San Diego Yacht Club 22 Feb 12:13 PST February 22 - March 1, 2024
2024 Puerto Vallarta Race © San Diego Yacht Club

The biennial San Diego to Puerto Vallarta International Yacht Race started in 1953, and returns for the 37th running February 22 - March 1, 2024. Sailors have been racing to the Mexican mainland for decades in San Diego Yacht Club's signature offshore race for the on-water adventure and competition, and the tropical winter weather awaiting them in PV. 22 boats are set to compete in this year's 1000nm race from the start line in San Diego Bay to the entrance of Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

The race officially begins Thursday February 22 with Class 6 boats Blackwing (Grand Soleil 44 Race) and Such Fast (1D35) squaring off as the first two starters of the race. These two will get a 24 hour and 48 hour head start over the rest of the fleet starting on Friday and Saturday. In 2022, the Thursday starters remained ahead of the later starters for the first 3 days of racing before the bigger and faster boats caught them at just past the halfway mark of the race. David Garman is racing his 1D35 out of Seattle in his third straight PV Race, eager to escape the winter weather for warmer San Diego and tropical conditions in PV. Garman's adventure won't stop after the PV Race. He'll be competing in MEXORC in Banderas Bay, before solo sailing his boat up the Gulf of California for a few weeks.

While Blackwing and Such Fast will already be heading south, Thursday evening will bring together the rest of the competition at SDYC's traditional PV Race Kick Off Party where teams and family and club members will gather to preview the race to come.

Ben Mitchell, Regatta Co-Chair: "We're seeing all the excitement and boat preparation in anticipation of a great sail down the coast. It's especially pleasing to see the competitors lined up in front of SDYC in the days leading up to the starts. Each year brings new challenges to this event, and has brought a good mix of veteran teams that have sailed this race over and over along with new boats and teams racing to PV for the first time."

Two weeks ago, many of these teams tuned up with the 142nm Islands Race from Long Beach to San Diego, with the overall win going to Tom Holthus' Botin 56 BadPak. BadPak is bringing the same crew of 9 back for the PV Race this week. BadPak will square up against the two fastest rated boats in the race, Rio100 (Bakewell White 100) and GoodEnergy (R/P 63) in Class 1.

BadPak's Navigator Artie Means: "With the PV Race being earlier than previous years, we still have a very dynamic winter weather pattern in place; making the pre-race forecast quite tricky. Depending how the next low settles into the west coast, BadPak is looking at routing times between 3.5 days (quite quick) to 5.5 days (agonizingly slow). Hoping for the best, but somewhat ready for a light air trip to PV."

Tom Holthus, BadPak Owner: "We just came off a nice win on the Islands Race so we are hoping to keep the momentum going with the same crew on BadPak. PV is always a bit tricky. Calling the route to get by Cabo without a restart will be key. The finish has been pushed out about 15 miles from Las Tres Marietas Islands from prior years. So we are hoping that eliminates the time of day bad luck that some boats experience when the sea breeze dies as you approach shore."

Cecil Rossi has been racing his Farr 57 Ho'okolohe for years with great success in offshore races including class wins in the Transpac Race. The Rossi's have acquired the Dencho/Kernan 68 Peligroso which is a 2-time PV Race overall winner (2008, 2010). Rossi will attempt to become the 3rd owner to win the PV Race with Peligroso, while competing in Class 2 against Pyewacket (Andrews 68) and Mirage (Santa Cruz 70). In bringing along Ernie Richau as navigator, they'll be racing with lots of experience in sailing the boat competitively down the Pacific.

Cecil Rossi, Peligroso Owner: "We'd like to speed it up a little and step out of the cruising boat. It served us very well and it was time for a change. There are a lot of differences with the new boat. We are sorting things out and expect to learn a lot while enjoying a great race down the coast."

Another overall PV Race winner from 2014 is the Rogers 46 Groundhog Day, now sailed by Rich Festa and his team from California Yacht Club. Groundhog Day will be in the deep Class 4 with a fellow Rogers 46 (Lucky Duck), Andrews 49 (It's OK) and 3 Santa Cruz 50/52s making for a highly competitive class.

Rich Festa, Groundhog Day Owner: "I love my boat. She is fast and we have fun! I sail with a great Corinthian crew. We are looking forward to a fast and fun race to PV!"

Class 3 features four Fast 50 boats including 2022 PV Race Overall Winner Fast Exit II (Ker 52). This will be a challenge for first time PV Racer John Brynjolfsson and his TP52 Saga.

John Brynjolfsson, Saga Owner: "On Saturday morning, after heading out of the San Diego Yacht Club's skippers meeting, to join nine other sailors, more experienced and athletic than myself, I can't help but feel a sense of excitement and anticipation. These veterans, who have sailed Saga halfway across the Pacific, and Saga recruits who just earned their stripes in the Islands Race, have positioned Saga to be a contender for its inaugural SD to PV Race.

The harmony of our team includes Olympian and tactician Chadwick Hough, Watch Captain Clark Hardy, and sailmaker and Junior National Champion, Lynsi Gibbons. Over the last month, our symphony has been preparing for this lunar event, as Saga team Manager and Watch Captain Clark Hardy has converted the Grand-Prix TP52 buoy racer into its offshore configuration, with water maker, pipe berths, grab bars, jack lines, and satellite connectivity.

Together, we will create a celestial symphony of the sea as we navigate the waters of the Baja California Peninsula under the light of a full moon."

The 2022 Class 5 winner Velos (Tanton 73) is back to defend its class win this year. The team was thrilled to bring home the win last race for owner Kjeld Hestehave who was unable to sail. Kjeld is back onboard this year and ready to compete. Velos and the other three 'lux racers' in Class 5 will be starting Friday.

Chuck Skewes, Velos Co-Skipper: "Velos is looking to continue its success in the PV Race with nearly the same crew that did the race in 2022. Our goal is always to have a good time on the sail down but we are also taking it serious. We have very competitive boats in our class and it will keep us pushing until the end in PV. This is always one of our favorite races and we hope to continue with it."

Race fans can watch the Friday and Saturday starts from Shelter Island (first start at noon each day), with the start line just across from the Kona Kai in San Diego Bay. The race can also be followed via the YB Tracker with position's updates every hour (2 hour competitive delay).

The finish line for the 2024 edition of the Puerto Vallarta Race will feature a newly evolved location almost 20 nm off the coast of Punta Mita at the northern end of Bandaras Bay. The virtual finish line is approx 1 nm wide, and positioned 1 nm north of Roca Corbetena, a small rock pile that is well known by the area's bluewater game fisherman. Racers that proposed this new location almost two years ago anticipate that it lies mostly outside the coastal thermal zone that goes flat in the early hours of each day. Thus your arrival time at the entrance to Bandaras Bay could dictate a hard fought lead turning into a becalmed disadvantage with slower boats sailing up to transom and crushing you on corrected time. This new location is anticipated to prevent that. "The race should be on the race track, not in the parking lot" was PRO Jeff Johnson's way of reframing this new course. "...but we never know where the race track ends and the parking lot begins. We'll see shortly." is how he finished.

Upon arrival in Puerto Vallarta, teams are greeted by San Diego Yacht Club members and family, along with customs agents to help welcome the sailors into Mexico. Marina Vallarta has been a repeat host of the PV Race boats and provides a great destination for the teams to land after their finish. The Awards Party will be held at the Velas Vallarta near Marina Vallarta for a spectacular finale to a week of racing to Mexico.

Follow the race tracker for updates on the competition and pvrace.com for daily updates and news from the race course.

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