Recent circumnavigators Peter and Margie Benzinger were two of the many volunteers who helped at this year's record-breaking WesMex International Small Boat Regatta. In their case, they offered their time, and thier boat, as one of the two committee boats for the event. Here's their story:
WesMex 2017 – A Visitor’s Perspective
By Peter Benziger, Captain, S/V Peregrina
Racing sailboats is a fantastic way for young people to gain valuable life skills. As a boy growing up on Long Island Sound, 60 years ago, I learned to sail racing “Bluejays” and “Lightnings” at the Noroton Yacht Club in Connecticut.
So, it was only natural that my wife, Margie, and I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer Peregrina, our Tayana 47, as a committee boat in the 2017 WesMex Small Boat Regatta earlier this month. The event was organized by the Vallarta Yacht Club. This is the 12th year the club has hosted the event.
Over 240 boats participated – competing in five types of one-design sailboats: Optimists, Lasers,420’s, Hobie Cats and Windsurfers.
During the event, we met some fantastic kids and their supportive families and coaches. I was really impressed by the participants and began to think about some of the benefits of racing sailboats for young people.
Getting ready to race requires lots of responsibility and preparation. Every morning, the kids would be working on their boats; cleaning, checking the knots, adjusting tension, repairing damage.
Kids also learn the importance of safety. This young girl is putting some extra air in the flotation bladders which keep her boat afloat in the event she capsizes.
The kids in the WesMex regatta came from all over Mexico. It was wonderful to see them introducing themselves and making new friends. In a three day regatta, there is no time to be a wallflower. Even in the midst of serious racing, the kids had a sense of fun!
RULES AND STRATEGY
Once you know the Racing Rules, they will help you formulate a strategy. Strategy is probably the most important aspect of winning races. Sailing fast is just not enough. Variables such as wind, current, waves and tides must be factored into your game plan. Kids have to take all these items into consideration; implement a strategy and then, constantly, modify their tactics as the variables change.
One of the most challenging parts of the race is the Start. Timing is everything. Racers must quickly evaluate a number of conditions affecting their position and implement a series of tactical moves to place themselves in front of the fleet.
The kids have to watch out not to “foul” another boat, not to cross the line too early, to show restraint when needed and to anticipate how long it will take to arrive moving fast when the staring horn sounds. There is a lot of stress on the starting line and the kids must learn to manage it. Below, you see how close the Laser Class lines up at the start of their race.
We tried to get in three races each day whenever possible. Thus, the kids were in the boats 5-6 hours a day and WOW did they get tired! Below is a young competitor who finished getting his boat into the parking lot just in time before falling asleep on the stern.
WINNING & LOSING
The hardest part of sailing is learning how to win and, much more frequently, how to lose. Usually, there are only trophies for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place so the vast majority of participants go home with only the knowledge that they did better, or worse, than hoped for. But, for the winners, there were smiles and cheers all around!
And, for a select few, this regatta had international implications. At the end of the awards ceremony, a Race Committee delegate came up to the stage and called the names of five boys and girls who had qualified to participate in the 2017 Optimist World Championships in Thailand!
What an awesome future is in store for these incredible young sailors! What a fabulous experience for two “old salts” like ourselves to be a part of it all! Thanks to Vallarta Yacht Club and WesMex 2017 from Margie and Peter aboard S/V Peregrina.
Been out on beautiful Banderas Bay this season? Just about everyone who goes out says one thing: The Whales Are Back! After a season of warmer waters that attracted very few whales, this season the whales have returned in numbers larger than we've seen in quite a while.
During last week's Vallarta Cup race, markset crew Larry and Yoshie Butts and Jim Corsini were treated to a close encounter while waiting for boats to round the weather mark. Two whales surfaced very near their boat, and proceeded to give them a show. Yoshie captured it all on video.
Whale watching is one of the many reasons for getting off the dock and checking out this beautiful bay. Keep in mind that you need to give the wildlife some space - licensed whale watch organizations are allowed no closer than 100 meters, and unlicensed boats no closer than 300 meters. If a whale comes up near you unnannounced, as they did with our mark crew, just say calm and slowly move away. NOAA recommends that if your engine is off, as it was with our crew, tap the side of your boat to let them know you are around.
There are plenty of reasons to enjoy this wonderful bay we live on - the wind, the wildlife and the beautiful scenery. Get out there and check it out!
The third race in the Vallarta Cup Series started in the clear skies and light winds that we have come to expect in Banderas Bay during January. Nine competitors came to the starting area. New addition Bart Goodell in his Santa Cruz 27 ‘Vitesse’ joined favorites Olas Lindas, Wings, Bright Star and Rush Faville’s ‘Shiva’.
The race committee called a multi-lap windward/leeward course, including a weather mark approximately 2.5 miles from the start, a reach mark, and a leeward mark near the starting line. Racing started around 12:40 after technical issues on committee boat S/V Cadenza caused an interruption and subsequent restart in 8kts of wind from the southwest.
Initial racing in Class A was extremely close, with Olas Lindas, Bright Star and Wings dropping spinnakers and rounding the leeward mark within feet of each other. Olas Lindas was first around the mark and used her lighter weight to accelerate upwind well ahead of Wings and Bright Star on their second trip to the weather mark. Kinta Ane struggled with her spinnaker take-down, wrapping the sail on her headstay, forcing the boat to head off-course for several minutes to sort it out. Showing a true competitive spirit, Merle, Allison and their crew of kid-naturalists headed right back into the race after their mishap, anxious to continue with racing, and whale watching.
While winds built mid-race to over 10 knots, pressure at the end of the race reduced considerably. The race committee called for a shortened course for Class B boats (Shiva, Vitesse, Harmatan and Poco Loco Dos), finishing them after a single lap of the windward/leeward course. Class A continued for a second lap, with Olas Lindas first over the finish line by 9 minutes, followed by Wings, Bright Star, Alarife and Kinta Ane. After handicap corrections, a mere 15 seconds separated Wings and Olas Lindas, with Wings narrowly getting the bullet for the second week in a row.
In Class B, Shiva continued her string of first place finishes, followed by Vitesse, Harnitan and Poco Loco Dos.
Beautiful Banderas Bay didn’t disappoint in showing off her wildlife on Saturday. Kinta Ane reported 24 whale sightings, bringing her total whale sightings for the event to over 40. The mark crew on Nanacita also reported a close encounter, with two whales surfacing just a few yards from their boat at the weather mark. Even the race committee was treated with a show of a whale in the middle of the starting line.
Also of note during the Saturday event: For his hurculean efforts in setting and retrieving marks for the Vallarta Cup, new VYC member Jim Corsini was officially made of member of the VYC Brotherhood of International Mark Boat Operators (BIMBO). Jim was awarded his official VYC BIMBO shirt, and told to go out and set more marks. Congratulations Jim!
The second race in Vallarta Cup 2017 gave competitors a full tour of the bay, with the race committee on S/V Cadenza calling for a course that took the fleet from a start in Nuevo Vallarta, 2 miles offshore, then to La Cruz, back again all the way to Puerto Vallarta, then back to Nuevo Vallarta for the finish. The fleet started in a light 6 knot wind, anticipating a northerly to develop later in the afternoon to help them finish the 19 mile course. With overcast skies, the breezes didn’t fill in from the north as expected, and competitors raised their spinnakers for an off wind reach to the La Cruz turning mark.
Series leader Olas Lindas led the fleet around the La Cruz mark, reaching to Puerto Vallarta a breeze that seemed to refuse to fill in. Consistent leader Wings struggled with the La Cruz mark rounding, touching the buoy, requiring not only a penalty 360 turn, but also a successful rounding of the mark, causing the yacht to lose several minutes.
Class B leader Shiva gave all boats a run for their money, again maintaining speed with the leaders throughout the course.
During the last hour of the race, winds turned southerly and built, giving all competitors a great off wind reach to the finish. Olas Lindas continued to lead the pack throughout the race, but faltered at the last weather mark, unsuccessfully attempting a spinnaker peel at the final turning mark, and losing several minutes before her turn down to the line.
In the final result, Olas Lindas led Wings by a full 7 minutes, but lost to Wings in corrected time. In Class B, Shiva consolidated her lead in Class B with another bullet.
Our junior naturalists aboard Kinda Anae didn’t disappoint: 9 whales were spotted during the race, as well as several dolphins and even a turtle!
New competitors this week were new VYC member Dan Kelsey’s “Harmattan” and past participant Ben Mewes’ “Georgia”. As Georgia finished, Ben and his crew were treated to a trumpet rendition of Georgia on My Mind by S/V Cadenza owner Jay.
Saturday, January 21 will be the next in this four-race series, capped off by our traditional "Cheeseburgers in Paradise" after-race party at the VYC clubhouse. Boats can sign up for any or all races in the Vallarta Cup Series. Sign-up is here.
The first race of Vallarta Cup 2017 kicked off on Saturday on a typical January day in Banderas Bay - light winds and clear skies. The race committee on S/V Cadenza delayed the race a few minutes to make sure there was sufficient wind for a start and to give the last few competitors sufficient time to get to the starting area, calling first warning at 12:36. The course selected was a 13 mile mainly-reaching route which would take the 10 boats to La Cruz, then an upwind leg northwest along the northern coast of the bay, and then downwind to finish as the daily thermal built in the afternoon.
All boats started well in a southerly 6 knot breeze, with higher winds expected as the boats picked up the daily thermal off Bucerias and along the north coast. Due to the nature of the course, the race committee called for a reaching start, and a couple of competitors even managed to fly spinnakers across the start line. All competitors were delighted to see Merle McAsse's 11 year-old son Matero helming the family's Beneteau 38 Kinta Anea across the start line. Olas Lindas, with VYC honorary member Mike Danielson aboard as tactician, set their 'chute shortly after start, as did many competitors. A few boats struggled with sail set, but ultimately headed off to La Cruz in the building breeze. Rush Faville's J80 'Shiva' had a great start, carrying a new black spnniaker over the start line and all the way to La Cruz. Rush stayed with the leaders through most of the race, showing everyone that small boats are very competitive in a reaching race. Of course, it didn't hurt that Shiva had Wayne Zittle, owner of J/World Performance Sailing, onboard to advise!
The first boat to finish, Olas Lindas, completed the course in a mere 1 hour 42 minutes, averaging a spectacular 7.6 knots around the course. This was with wind speeds that never exceeded 10 knots throughout the course. Olas finished a full 7 minutes and 42 seconds ahead of the next boat, Fred Roswold's Serindipity 43 'Wings'. Fred crossed the finish line flying his huge new spinnaker, which the race committee knicknamed 'The Womper'. By 3pm all boats had completed the course.
Matero McAsse, in addition to helping helm the family boat, also achieved another goal that was set for the racers: the boat to spot the most whales during the race. Matero spotted 4 whales, and two dolphins to boot! He will be awarded a prize at the final trophy ceremony, as well as an honory Banderas Bay Naturalist badge.
The Vallarta Cup racers joined VYC members and guests at the VYC clubhouse for the event after party. Local band "The Remedy" provided the dance music. Chef Israel didn't dissapoint, creating his famous hamburgers for the attendees.
The group of racers was broken into two classes after results were returned. Olas Lindas was first in Class A, Shiva first in Class B.
VYC kicks off the racing season with the Vallarta Cup. This series, which has been held every year since 2005, runs four Saturdays in January. Each day of racing is capped with a great party at Vallarta Yacht Club! This year we'll skip the first Saturday and kick the first race off on January 7, finishing four races on January 28.
Please use the form below to enter your boat for Vallarta Cup 2017. You can pay your fees using Paypal, or choose "Offline Payment" to pay in person at Vallarta Yacht Club. If you have sailed with VYC in the last 3 years we probably have the information we need to handicap your boat. If you have changed something or need a first-time handicap please complete the handicap request form here.
By Capt. Elizabeth Shanahan, 200/500 T USCG Master
Owner SG Boat works and E2 Yacht Services
Since 2014, when I wrote an article regarding the current status of the Temporary Import Permits in Mexico, there have been numerous updates to the TIP system. The main change is that it is now computerized, as is most of Mexico.
This is a follow-up to my original article because of the numerous updates to the now computerized TIP system offices.
The basics are still the same. You apply for a TIP either online or at your first point of entry to Mexico. Or you may do so through an agent. You should find out quickly if you have any open TIPs on the boat and if you have an issue that needs to be dealt with.
All boats that ever had a TIP are now in the computer system. And cases have surfaced recently in which, for example, a person purchased a boat in Southern California, but the former boat owner (and seller) didn’t cancel his TIP. Perhaps he forgot to cancel it, or lost it etc. But when a new owner applies for a TIP they cannot complete the process if the prior owner, (or 2 or 3 owners back) never canceled the TIP.
That’s the bad news. The good news is there is a process to get this cleared up. It’s not scary but it is time consuming. If you are selling your boat it’s very important for you to cancel your TIP when you leave Mexico.
First, see if you can locate the original TIP with all the required back up from the seller or prior owner. If you have the original and all the back up data (the 8 ½’ x 11” equipment list) that was issued with the TIP you can simply walk into Banjecito and cancel it. While you are there be sure to get a full TIP history on your boat. It has happened where the seller of a boat canceled his or her TIP but the owner prior to them did not.
If you bought a boat and have an issue, go to your first point of entry into Mexico with a certified copy of your bill of sale, a current document – and a large amount of patience. But you will need to go to Banjercito and get a history (or status) of the TIP for your particular vessel. Then you will have to go to the Ministerio Publico (Public Minister) and file a report that the prior TIP has been lost by the prior owner. Next you have to notify customs (Aduana) with the report from the Public Minister.
Again, be patient. Aduana may or may not go to the boat and verify the hull number, document number and any other identifying information. Then you will need to return to Banjercito with the reports. At that point you should be able to cancel all old TIPS’s and get your current TIP.
Try to remember through all this that you are not in the USA. Always be respectful to the authorities. We are, after all, guests in their country. Mexico allows us 10 years on our temporary import of a non-Mexican flagged vessel with no tax other than the cost of the permit.
The United States is not so generous, nor are most other countries if you are a foreign flagged vessel.