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Culebra Heineken Intl Regatta Set for March

Hot racing, cool parties, and boatloads of hospitality are what sailors will enjoy at the third annual Culebra Heineken International Regatta (CHIR) and Culebra International Dinghy Regatta (CIDR).

Last year, 74 boats with homeports ranging from the Puerto Rican mainland and Caribbean to as far away as New England and Germany competed, with 39 junior sailors racing in the dinghy event.

Set for March 14 to 16, the 2008 edition will once again base out of the Costa Bonita Resort, where on-shore lodgings, plus a regatta village with food booths staffed by local restaurateurs await.

The CHIR marks the second leg of the Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle, or C.O.R.T. Series, which begins in February with the St. Croix International Regatta and concludes in April with the BVI Spring Regatta in Tortola.

“Courses will be a mix of round the buoys and round the islands,” says regatta director Angel Ayala.

Saturday’s racecourses will feature windward-leeward racing for the entire fleet south of Punta Soldado. The Racer-Cruiser, Performance Cruiser and Jib & Main classes will also race mark to mark with some roundings of Culebra’s offshore cays thrown in for fun.

On Sunday, the entire fleet – except J24, IC24 and Beach Cat classes – will take off around the island, both starting and finishing in Ensenada Bay so that spectators can watch the action from land.

Meanwhile, the J24s, IC24s and Beach Cats will continue to compete on windward-leeward courses on Sunday.  The IC24 class is expected to be bigger this year.

“Puerto Rico just finished its sixth IC24 re-build and we expect several entries to the class from St. Thomas and Tortola,” says Ayala.

Classes of entry to the CHIR will include CSA Spinnaker Racing, CSA Spinnaker Racer-Cruiser, CSA J24, IC24, CSA Performance Cruiser, CSA Jib & Main, IC24s, Beach Cat and native-built Chalanas.

“We would be happy to dual score IRC-rated yachts that request it, but they must also have a CSA rating,” Ayala says.

An Awards Ceremony will cap the two days of racing.  ISAF judge, Michael Thompson of Detroit, Michigan, will again officiate as Principal Race Officer.

Juan Torruella, one of Puerto Rico’s long time competitive sailors and race officers, who is now based in Washington, DC as a federal judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, will serve as Chief Judge.

Entry fee is $200 ($100 for Beach Cats and $150 for Chalanas) before February 14 and $250 after this date.

An event-within-an-event, the CIDR will feature Optimist dinghy and Laser racing. New this year, the CIDR venue will be based further north in Ensenada Bay at the site of the Youth Sailing Center of Culebra. The 150-foot-long dock at this facility will make launching and hosing down dinghies much easier. Dinghy racing will take place in Ensenada Bay.
Entry fee for dinghies is $50.

Preview submitted by Culebra Heineken International Regatta

Where is Culebra?

Seven miles long by two miles wide, located 17 miles east of the Puerto Rican mainland and 15 miles west of the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas, Culebra has only 2000 inhabitants. There are no marinas, nor is their overnight anchoring allowed in several bays due to their protected wildlife refuge status. There also aren’t any big chandleries, boat yards, or supermarkets. Yet, it is the unspoiled beauty, easy access via a short voyage from either Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, and just enough creature comforts to keep boaters happy that makes Culebra an ideal cruising destination both before and after the regatta.

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