Thu, Feb 22, 2018

There are a number of on-the-water activities in Banderas Bay. Regardless of whether you are a racer, cruiser, dinghy sailor, fisherman or sailboarder, there are plenty of ways for you to find out just how great Banderas Bay really is!

Sailboat racing events

VYC is proud of our many sailing events, and during our short history we have been selected to be the host for a number of prestigious national and international sailing events. We maintain an inventory of yacht racing marks, ground tackle, flags and other equipment necessary for race management. We also have a number of VYC members who have become expert in all aspects of yacht race management, including several certified race officers, mark boat operators, on-the-water safety experts, scorers, and overall race event planners. Our expertise has been demonstrated many times in past events, including:

  • J/24 World Championships – 2007

  • Optimist North American Championships – 2007 and 2014

  • Pan American Games – 2011

  • Laser World Championships - 2016

  • Optimist North American Championships - 2018

Banderas Bay is one of the best venues for sail racing in the world. Very consistent daily thermals bring mid-afternoon onshore winds between 10-18 knots, with no more than 1 meter swell during the highest wind periods. Shallow water provides for easy race mark placement, and racing is close enough to the beach to allow for easy viewing from the many resort hotels nearby.

VYC Signature Sailing Events

VYC has two Signature Events, which are held every year:

Banderas Bay Regatta

Started in 1991, the Banderas Bay Regatta is one of the oldest and largest cruisers' regattas on the west coast. Billed as “we had a party and a yacht race broke out”, the BBR is four days of fun racing and parties for cruising boats. Over the years, entries have included anything from 85 foot traditional wooden schooners to Hobie cats. From traditional dancers at the opening ceremony to a huge closing beach party, BBR participants and their families are treated to a week of great sailing and great parties.

WesMex International Small Boat Regatta

Since it's start in 2005, WesMex has grown to be a fantastic showcase of just how great Banderas Bay is for small boat racing. Participation has grown to nearly 200 entrants in Optimist, Laser, Club 420 and now Hobie 16 classes. Three years ago, WesMex was included as a regular event in the Mexican National Sailing Circuit, a series of 4-6 national small-boat races used as qualifiers for the Mexican National Olympics and various international sailing competitions. Every two years, WesMex is included in Copa Mexico, a two-week sailing event in Banderas Bay that includes some of the best yacht, small-boat and board sailors in the world.

Annual Sailing Events

In addition to VYC's signature events, a number of regular sailing events are held every year. Some of these events are managed by VYC, and some are managed by others, with VYC participation:

Banderas Bay Blast

Sponsored by Latitude 38 Magazine, the Banderas Bay Blast is a three day fun race / cruise intended to welcome new cruisers to Banderas Bay. Each day is a point-to-point race or cruise in company. On day one, yachts sail from Paradise Village Marina to La Cruz Marina, day two from La Cruz to Punta de Mita, and on day three from Punta de Mita downwind to Paradise Village. The final downwind day is a charity event called “Pirates for Pupils”, which helps support local schools by helping to buy school materials. Of course, dressing like a pirate is highly recommended!

Vallarta Cup

Held during four Saturdays in January, the Vallarta Cup represents the first serious yacht racing of the season. Yachts compete for their names to be engraved on a perpetual trophy that is displayed at Vallarta Yacht Club. At the end of each racing day there is live music and dancing at VYC.

Dine 'n Dash

Another fun race, Dine 'n Dash races are held a few times each season. Using a staggered start, boats race from Nuevo Vallarta to La Cruz, have lunch, and race back to Nuevo Vallarta. The use of staggered starts means that the first boat over the finish line is the winner!

Beer Can Racing

Wednesday afternoon beer can races are held off La Cruz marina. The series usually starts late January or February, depending on interest and other events.

Cruising Destinations in and around Banderas Bay

VYC holds cruise-out events as interest and schedules permit. Some cruise-out destinations are inside Banderas Bay, others are farther afield.

Banderas Bay

Within Banderas Bay, there are a number of great spots, from Punta de Mita in on the north side, to La Animas and Yelapa on the south. A popular annual VYC event is Navida en Playa, a Christmas morning cruise to the VYC out-station at the El Coral Restaurant on Las Animas Beach. Only accessible by boat, this beautiful beach is a great destination at any time. VYC members enjoy a 10% discount at the El Coral Restaurant, as well as use of VYC-owned toys such as a kayak, a paddle board, boccie balls and dominoes.

Farther up the southern coast is Yelapa. If you've never been there, you need to go. Also only accessible by boat, Yelapa is a beautiful and eclectic community with great little restaurants and beach bars. You can hike up the hill to a waterfall, or hang out in the numerous restaurants and coffee shops.

Both Las Animas and Yelapa have moorings that are managed by the local restaurants, as well as water taxis to take you to shore. You will usually be met by a local pangero who will direct you to a mooring for the restaurant he works for. Both locations can be rolly for an overnight stay on a mooring. Many people bring their boats to a Yelapa mooring, then find a hotel room for the night. Rooms are relatively inexpensive, and in some cases very rustic!

On the north coast, a popular local cruising destination is Punta de Mita. Anchoring is possible there and holding is good. There are a number of restaurants lining the shore, and there is a surf break. Check the conditions before bringing your dinghy to shore – in some cases the breaking surf on the beach can make landing a small dinghy quite challenging. Water taxis are available and recommended in rolly conditions. If you intend to stay overnight, check with the water taxi to make sure they will actually run in the evening.

Outside Banderas Bay

There are great short cruising destinations both north and south of Banderas Bay. One of the most popular is Tenacatita, about 100 miles south. This small bay offers an excellent anchorage, and you will usually find a number of other cruisers who hang out there for extended periods. In the past few years VYC has organized a club cruise-out to Tenacatita, as well as a fun race for cruisers and locals around the bay, as well as participation in a charity event in Manzanillo that supports local schools. A few miles south of Tenacatita is Barra de Navidad, with a full service marina and a shallow anchorage. Barra is a great town to walk around and enjoy the local seafood, arts and crafts, and little beach bars.

We won't go into much more detail on cruising destinations around Banderas Bay. Suffice to say there are plenty of great destinations to choose from.

It's Your Club!

There is plenty to do in Banderas Bay if you enjoy the water. This has just been a taste of what you can expect in and around the bay, and what VYC does to support those activities. As Staff Commodore Dan Green lovesto say, “It's your club!” Make it what you want. The great thing about VYC is that you will probablyfind someone who shares your passion.


Andy Barrow

Staff Commodore and On-the-Water Director

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