The 2022 Puerto Vallarta Race hosted by San Diego Yacht Club is the 36th running of the biennial yacht race from San Diego to the Mexican mainland. The previous edition in March 2020 took place in the last waning days prior to the wide-scale Covid 19 shutdown in the US, which literally broke while the competitors were racing to Puerto Vallarta.
Two years later, a strong fleet of 30 boats set sail on the 1000nm course, some as their first distance race of the last two years.
Teams drawing mostly from the US west coast, but as far as Australia, are looking forward to the competition of this race, but also the picturesque, springtime destination of Puerto Vallarta. Those from the colder climates in Northern California and Washington see this race as the perfect winter getaway with temperatures in the 80s awaiting in Puerto Vallarta.
Ivan Batanov, Zero Gravity, Soto 40, Class 3:
“Puerto Vallarta is a fantastic destination – the weather in March is heavenly, the city is defined by the natural charm of Banderas Bay and beaches embraced by the Sierra Madre mountains – it offers a great mix of world-class resorts and authentic local culture. San Diego Yacht Club’s top-notch race organization makes PV very special – from coordination and communication to the greeting at the docks. The awards party is not to be missed – the venue, the food, and the company are superb. It is great to see old friends and make some new ones there!
The race itself can be challenging due to somewhat unpredictable weather conditions – some years it can be very light, others can get a bit sporty. The rounding of Cabo is critical and can make or break the race. Depending on the local conditions and the time of day, many boats have lost hours and days in the light airs “hole of Cabo.” For us, the 1000 mile course requires careful planning to keep the boat light and fast.
The PV22 forecast for the boats starting on Friday looks in line with the historic weather – mostly downwind sailing in medium breeze. The current weather models are showing a bit faster race than historic averages, which will be a great opportunity for the Zero Gravity – Soto 40 to sail its potential. Our goals are to have fun, sail fast, and be first in our class. The competition is tough, all the boats in Class 3 have experienced skippers and are very well-sailed, and have some of the best sailors around.”
Class 1 will feature a rematch for most boats of the 2021 Transpac Race last summer, where Tom Holthus’ Botin 56 BadPak posted the best corrected time in the class.
2022 Puerto Vallarta Race – photo © Mark Albertazzi
Raymond Paul, Artemis, Botin 65, Class 1:
“This is the first time Artemis has done the Puerto Vallarta Race, so we are not sure what to expect. Most of the crew have sailed together for quite some time, first aboard a Swan 53, Blue, and now aboard Artemis. We are comfortable with the boat and with sailing together and look forward to the Puerto Vallarta race followed by MEXORC.
The competition in ORR 1 is very intense with several boats being close in rating. On any given day, regardless of rating, it is hard to predict who will come out on top. Our competition with Peligroso is especially close, and we always look forward to competing with them. In the recent Islands Race we finished 23 seconds apart in elapsed time and 2 minutes 49 seconds apart in corrected time after 17 hours on the race course. That’s exciting racing.”
The monohull course record is held by Manouch Moshayedi and the Bakewell White 100 Rio100, set at 77.7 hours in the 2016 race. The Rio100 team has traditionally been composed of an international crew from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the US with a breadth of top level offshore racing experience. But the boat hasn’t raced since the 2019 Transpac Race, Moshayedi is excited to get back to racing, bringing an all American crew to the PV Race this year to avoid the international travel challenges. Networking and training sessions narrowed the roster to the 16 that will race this year. The boat is equipped with some minor changes since the last race in 2019 and a set of new sails. Moshayedi commented that with the current wind forecasts, it will be tough to break their current record and their initial predictions could bring them in just short of the record pace.
The most internationally composed team belongs to Ray Roberts’ JV 72 Hollywood Down Under (previously Lucky). The crew of 16 hail from Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Poland, Indonesia, Mexico, and the US, and includes recent Match Race Champions Jefferey Petersen and Max Brennan. Roberts is a past Australian Ocean Racer of the Year (2006) and a 4-time Asian Grand Prix Yachting Champion, racing TP52s and more around the world.
Unluckily, there was an incident in the boat yard in San Diego during race preparation, where the mast was damaged and required an ultrasound. This uncovered some additional impact damage. The crew had to fly a whole lot of materials in from NZ which came in Sunday before Saturday’s scheduled start. By Monday afternoon, they started a 16-hour cook on the carbon fiber with crew monitoring the temperature levels, and getting a quality repair in place. Without that incident, the boat was well equipped and ready to go so it through the whole race plans into flux and it was 50/50 whether the boat would be ready for the start. But with 48 hours to go, the boat is ready to launch. The team has worked extremely hard to get to the start and it should be a relief to be on board and headed down the race course. Credit to Fitzgerald Racing and SD Boatworks on the repair.
Up next for Hollywood Down Under will be additional SoCal racing in 2022 and eventually the boat will go to the East Coast to continue racing.
Starting today (Thursday) in Class 6 are the 1D35 Such Fast (David Garman), Beneteau Figaro 2 Envolee (Nathalie Criou), and Farr 39 White Cloud (Paul Grossman). All three raced in the 2020 PV Race and are back to compete this year.
2022 Puerto Vallarta Race – photo © Mark Albertazzi
Nathalie Criou, Envolee, Beneteau Figaro 2, Class 6:
“Since Covid hit following the 2020 race, we have gradually gotten back on the water and this is the first offshore race we are doing since then. So, we’re super, super excited to be on the water again. The boat is good. We have spent a lot of time fine tuning it and learning how to make it go faster. We have a strong team and we’re optimistic about the forecast. It’s still a tough race strategically and there will be quite a few transitions, so it’s hard to predict who will do well. It’s going to be an interesting year from this perspective. SoCal is usually a challenge for us NorCal folks as typically it is lighter air sailing, so we’re looking forward to getting some practice in different conditions. Overall, what’s not to like? We’re sailing full speed toward margaritas…sorry, I meant Puerto Vallarta.”
Each race start morning, Peter Isler of Marine Weather University provides a professional weather briefing to the skippers and navigators at the Skipper Meetings, using the daily weather models for the start and an average composition of models to give the teams another look at what they should expect to see this week. Drawing on his decades of experience in this race, he describes the typical “in at the points, out at the bays” strategy for the race down Baja, and the enigma that is the Cabo lee where depending on the time of day approached can be a tight turn at the point or a wide 30+ mile hook.
Race fans can watch the starts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at noon, watching from land on Shelter Island or on a boat in San Diego Bay. Each boat will carry a YB Tracking race tracker, and will show boat positions at 1 hour intervals with a 4-hour competitive delay at yb.tl/sdpv2022.
by San Diego Yacht Club