SAN DIEGO (AP) — Nearly 50 years after a Mexican yacht won the first Whitbread Round the World Race, prominent members of the San Diego and Acapulco yacht clubs are backing Viva Mexico in The Ocean Race 2021.
Among them are Malin Burnham, a San Diego businessman and civic leader who was involved in Dennis Conner’s winning America’s Cup campaigns in 1987 and 1988.
Burnham is one of four co-owners of the 65-foot sloop, which was sailed in the last two editions of the world’s premier ocean race, including when it was known as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and won the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race.
The other co-owners are Lorenzo Berho of Mexico City, who is a member of the SDYC and a part-time San Diego resident, and Ricardo Brockmann and Yon Belausteguigoitia of the Acapulco Yacht Club.
Burnham is a member of the National Sailing Hall of Fame and America’s Cup Hall of Fame. He won consecutive Star Class world championships while still a teenager in the mid-1940s.
Burnham said Viva Mexico’s owners still need to raise money for the campaign and are seeking sponsorships.
The campaign will make its debut when Viva Mexico, skippered by Brockmann’s son, Erik, competes in the SDYC’s 1,000-nautical mile race to Puerto Vallarta. Its class leaves Saturday. Ricardo Brockmann and Berho will be aboard. Belausteguigoitia — nicknamed B-17 for the number of letters in his surname — will be sailing in a different class.
The 92-year-old Burnham won’t be racing.
Burnham said the Ocean Race “is a wonderful part of our sport, is very significant and San Diego Yacht Club has never been involved in it before. So that puts this club on that stage as well. Strengthening the relationship between the two clubs, the two countries, and then sailing, that’s why I’m helping. It’s an absolute natural for us because of our history.”
With Viva Mexico anchored just off the San Diego Yacht Club’s front deck, the two clubs signed an agreement Wednesday evening and the SDYC presented a burgee to Erik Brockmann.
“We share an ocean and we need to share more of the solutions, and this is a great opportunity,” Berho said.
After the Puerto Vallarta race, Viva Mexico will compete in a series of races in Mexico. It will then sail in the Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Tahiti in late May.
Erik Brockmann’s goal is to bring Mexico back into The Ocean Race for the first time since Ramón Carlin’s Sayula II was the surprise winner of the inaugural Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973-74.
“It really puts in a very good spot for sure to join with San Diego Yacht Club,” Erik Brockmann said.
Brockmann said Carlin had three crew members from San Diego.
“For us from Mexico, if you think, ‘Where can I find some good sailors,’ the first thing that you think of is San Diego,’ “ Brockman said.
The Ocean Race will start in Alicante, Spain, in late 2021 and finish in Europe early the following summer after making several stops.
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