Results, Memories, and Origins of the Lopez Cup

I have tried repeatedly in the last couple of days to sit down and tell you all about the 10th annual Lopez Cup race, but I just can’t seem to want to share how absolutely cold, rainy, slow, and miserable it was. So, after pondering this dilemma I have decided to start by telling you a much brighter story of how the Lopez Cup came to be.

The Lopez Cup really had its birth in a beach bar in La Manzanilla, Mexico. La Manzanilla is a small seaside town about 30 miles north of Manzanillo. It has a beautiful 3-mile beach and several excellent restaurants. We have been going there with friends for over 20 years. One day Duane Bordvick and I were sitting in our favorite beach bar, an Italian restaurant named Figaro’s and owned by an Italian artist named Pino. (I never did know his last name) After a couple of ice cold draft Modelo’s we started talking about how cool it would be to have a sailboat race in La Manzanilla Bay. It really is a beautiful place with a consistent onshore afternoon breeze. We convinced Pino that it would be good for his business as well. So, Pino says that he knows the mayor of the town and he can get him to promote it in the ongoing search for tourism. We sealed the deal with a couple more beers and vowed to keep up the discussion when we returned home.

And keep up the discussion we did. Pino not only went to work with the mayor promoting the race but somehow talked him into turning it into a big fiesta on the beach.  Of course, right in front of Pino’s restaurant. They hired a professional promoter in Puerto Vallarta to do a lot of advertising. Duane worked with her for several months on the set up on the beach and promotion. One of the things that we were short on however was a race committee. I knew the race committee chairman at the Puerto Vallarta Yacht Club at the time and reached out to him for suggestions. Next thing I knew they were offering the PVYC committee boat to run the race. This thing was really taking off.

Fast forward to the following February. We had made our reservations for our place on the beach a year ahead of time and really looked forward to the race and the warm weather. We had originally planned on Dave and Judy Welker, Duane and Audrey Bordvick, and Jonelle and I renting a three-bedroom casa on the beach a short walk from Pino’s. Unfortunately, Duane and Audrey had to cancel their plans at the last moment. It was really a shame since Duane had worked so hard with the promoter on the set up and planning. When we arrived in Mexico, I will never forget the drive into town from the highway. What used to be a dusty road into town had been magically transformed. They had paved the road and painted a centerline! This had all been planned to facilitate the Yacht Race fiesta on the beach. We were stunned. We had arrived a couple of days before we had scheduled the race and found that they, (however they were) had set up several large white tents on the beach in front of Pino’s. The promoter had arranged for food, beer, tequila, and a mariachi band for the event. All of the local dignitaries were invited, and it was to be a grand show. The only thing we needed now was sailboats. After all it was supposed to be a sailing race event. I called my contact in Puerto Vallarta and he confirmed that he was coming down on a big J boat and the race committee was coming in a power boat. We ended up getting 5 or 6 local boats to join up and we had a fleet. The only problem was that Dave and I didn’t have a boat. Again, Pino to the rescue. He called a good friend of his who was the manager of a resort just around the beach from La Manzanilla. He said we were welcome to borrow one of the Hobie beach cats.

As it turned out the beach party was the big event with the sailboat race an afterthought. Typical Mexican party. Dozens of politicians, dignitaries, and fancy dresses. All comfortably seated under the big white tents. Lots of speeches. Lots of food. Lots of drinking. Pino made a killing. I never did find out who paid for the whole thing. But I knew that the promoter was suing everybody she could because she didn’t get paid. As for the sailing the big J boat was first to finish, and amazingly, Dave Welker and I were second in our ratty old beach cat. It’s a trophy that I cherish to this day. The following year we managed to put a race on as well. Without all the fanfare. Duane was able to join, and we raced together on the big J boat from PV. We won that year.

But that was it for the La Manzanilla Cup. It was unsustainable and too much work for us not living in Mexico. But it got Duane and I to thinking: why can’t we put together a Lopez Cup? It certainly couldn’t be as hard as putting a race on in another country. So, Duane found us a trophy. It’s a big, beautiful silver thing. We made a base and bought a plaque. It now will soon have ten winners over ten years etched on the plaque. On display in the LIYC Lopez Islander clubhouse.

Now that my memories have warmed me up and feel so much better about sailboat racing in general, I can now move on to the results of this year’s race. But not without moaning once more: NOTHING is worse than sitting in a cockpit of a high-performance sailboat, with no wind, pouring rain, sopping wet, and cold, going nowhere! But my hat (rain hood) is off to the three finishers of the race. You guys are bad ass. First place in class A, first to finish, and winner of the Lopez Cup was the J 70, Aha, skipper Ken Machtley & Stephanie Arnold. Second place, class A, Treachery, skipper Scott Miller. First place, Class B, Shillelagh, skipper Ray Pingree. Congratulations and hope to see you next year in better weather!

Race Day Photos by Leslie Richter

Check out the slideshow below. For all the photos and fullscreen photos, go to Leslie’s website for fabulous crisp photos: Thank you Leslie!

~ Russ Johnson

Russ Johnson
LIYC Race Committee Chair

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