Shifty winds that blew from a brisk 15 knots to a nearly calm 6 knots challenged the record 80 sailors competing in the 9th Annual Club Nautico de San Juan (CNSJ) International Regatta, held February 5 to 7. These conditions in San Juan Bay kept sailors on their tactical toes in this event, a 'must-do' for international dinghy sailors.
Participants represented Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, United States, Guatemala, Ecuador and the Netherlands, and competed in Lasers, Optimists, Sunfish and Snipes.
In Laser Standard class, Olympian Raul Aguayo from the Dominican Republic, who sailed in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, handily won with a nearly flawless string of first place bullets. "I competed in the regatta in 2004," said Aguayo. "It looks like the level of sailing skill in the region is getting higher every year."
Aguayo, who had sailed in US Sailing's 2010 Miami Olympic Class Regatta the weekend before, said, "My closest rival was Francisco Medina from Puerto Rico who has had a lot of experience in the boat and had good boat speed. Also, having Enrique Figueroa in the competition, who has sailed in more than one Olympics, made me keep an eye out."
The South American Laser Championships, Caribbean Laser Open and Laser North American Championships are all on Aguayo's schedule before July's Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico's Ramon Gonzalez won Laser Radial class, while Jose Penagos from Guatemala topped Laser 4.7 class.
In Optimists, the largest of the fleets with 45 sailors, Puerto Rico's Andre Reguero won the advanced overall. "It was especially rewarding to win this regatta since it was in San Juan Bay where I learned to sail at age five," said Reguero.
Concentration, consistency in the starts and an ability to identify wind shifts served Reguero well. "My biggest competition was Matias Dyck from Ecuador, Nicholas Gartner from the Virgin Islands, and team mate Jorge Gonzalez. There was a close race between Gartner and I where we were neck and neck until the very last tack to cross the line."
Reguero will compete in the Optimist South American Championships in Uruguay, the Optimist North Americans in Canada and the Optimist Worlds in Malaysia later this year.
Romina De Julio from Ecuador won the beginner Optimist Green fleet.
The CNSJ International Regatta was a qualifier for Puerto Rico sailors in Snipe Class for the CAC Games. Raul Rios and crew Antonio Sifre, won. The secret to Rios' success is "dedicating my time to the sport," he said. "If you don't have the passion and dedication, you will have a lot of trouble. Having fun is what it's all about."
Rios' biggest competition on the course was Marco Teixidor and crew Ricardo Latimer, who will also be competing in the CAC Games.
"The Snipe Class is trying hard to foment the class bringing the Snipe 2010 North Americans to Ponce, Puerto Rico," Rios said. "The Snipe is a very tactical and very technical boat, and with the I-420 which we also sail, the combination is the Olympic 470. My goal is to earn an Olympic medal in the 470 class."
Rios will compete in the Snipe Don Q Regatta, Snipe North Americans, ISAF Youth Worlds and CAC Games over the next few months.
Finally, a new class this year was Sunfish. Organizer Jose Berrios said, "We've been including the Sunfish in our local races as this is a class in the upcoming CAC Games. This regatta was not only good practice for the sailors, but also the race committee as it will be the same race committee serving at the CAC Games."
Puerto Rico's Fernando Monllor won Sunfish class. "I started training in the Sunfish right after I finished sailing Optimists in 2008 and haven't stopped since. For me, the Sunfish feels similar to an Optimist, but way faster," he says.
In this event, said Monllor, who will compete in the CAC Games, "I just tried to get a good start and sail with the wind shifts and have excellent boat speed. I try to give my best no matter who is sailing against me." For full results: www.nauticodesanjuan.com/sailingprogram/regatta_int.htm