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Foreign Cruisers Participate in the Cartagena Offshore Regatta in Colombia

Within days of my arrival to Cartagena the Cruisers’ Net broadcast an invitation to participate in the 2 nd International Cup Manzanillo Marina Club Regatta 2006. Register your sailboat or sign up as crew. The regatta start was from Cartagena to the Rosario Islands, about 26 miles SW and then the following day a return regatta back to Cartagena. The regatta was well supported with many sponsors including Comcel Telecommunications, Club de Pesca and Manzanillo Marina Club and its owner Mauricio Lemaitre who is a keen competitor in his Oceanis 44 sailboat “Spirit of the Wind”.

Pre-regatta cocktail parties, significant quantities of beer for each regatta boat, dinner, entertainment and drinks at the Rosario Islands, presentation cocktail party, t-shirts, hats, so much more all included in the registration of around US$25 per crew. The value of the prizes totaled over $US20,000. This particular regatta was a fundraiser for 2 charities: The “Rey (King) Institute” assisting young unemployed people with medical and other support services and “Quiero Vivir” (“I want to live”) an organization helping people through drug rehabilitation.

Mauricio Lemaitre , his wife Carolina De la Espriella and Salvo Basile worked around the clock to organize the regatta and raise sponsorship funding. “We are committed to making this annual regatta a truly international event” said Mauricio “we challenge the Caribbean racing community to come and participate: consistent winds, tough competition and over US$20,000 in prizes make this an event not to be missed.”

A separate category for cruising sailboats has been established to encourage foreign sailboats to participate. The additional weight associated with most cruising sailboats is calculated into the handicap Basically there are 2 classes: A handicap of less than 100 puts you in a “Regatta/Cruiser Division and over 100 into the “Cruising” Division.

20 sailboats were on the start line including the USA registered Cielo, a cruising 35’ foot Alberg design built in 1967. The two-handed crew, David Ferneding and Martha Clark are both from Penobscot Bay, Maine. The start of the regatta was off Club de Pesca in Cartagena in calm conditions in the bay. The course sent us immediately offshore and into a downwind regatta. The wind built to 20 knots and the spinnaker sets proved challenging in the swell.

According to Cruising Class entrant David Ferneding, “We sailed to Cartagena to have boatyard work done. What a delightful experience it was to accomplish a professional in-yard refit and then join in the fun of an international regatta!”

“The racing sailors of Cartagena themselves are very international. We felt very welcomed. We join with the regatta committee in the hope more visiting sailboats will participate in the fun. Cielo and Amore Kay [another USA competitor in the regatta] are now hauled out at the Manzanillo Marina Club for the summer. We return to join our new Colombian sailor friends next fall” added Martha Clark, a very experienced sailor and committed cruiser.

I was invited on board “Flight” (Olson 40’) owned by local surgeon Jaime Ambrad who is member of Club de Pesca a private club next door to the anchorage and the marina of Club Nautico. Naturally Jaime was absolutely delighted to achieve line honors in both regattas … “Great crew work, good starts and having fun are the ingredients for winning regattas” says Jaime.

The Regatta/Cruiser Division results:

First: “Flight” : Skipper Jaime Ambrad
Second: “Calypso 4’ Skipper Jorge Dahl
Third: “Spirit of the Wind” Skipper Mauricio Lemaitre

The Crusing Division results:

First: “Lion of Morfe” Skipper Enrico Bendetti
Second “Albatros” Combined Skippers from the Naval School
Third “Cielo” Skippers David Ferneding and Martha Clark

I truly did not expect to be greeted in Colombia with a full calendar of bay and offshore racing. I’ve become regular crew in the Saturday regatta ran by Club de Pesca. It is somewhat reminiscent of my hometown Sydney, a beautiful setting in a tranquil harbor and very competitive racing!

Loads of fun, meeting the locals, interesting courses, adventuring to new places, heaps of trophies …….what more could a cruiser (racer) ask for???

Calendar of Racing

January, February, March and April – Saturday afternoon racing in the bay – Organised by Club de Pesca. Usually 18 to 22 on the start line.

May – Baru Marina Regatta – organised by Baru Marina

March : Offshore San Bernado regatta. Organised by Club de Pesca. 3 legs:

Cartagena to San Bernado Islands – 45 miles

Tintipan to Rosario Islands – 25 miles

Rosario Islands to Cartagena – 20 miles

April : Offshore Marina Manzanillo Regatta. Organised by Club de Pesca

Cartagena to Rosario Islands – 26 miles

Rosario to Cartagena – 24 miles

May or June : Offshore Club Nautico Regatta

Cartagena to Rosario Islands – 26 miles

Around the Rosario Islands – 18 miles

Rosario Islands to Cartagena – 24 miles

May and June every 2 years – Offshore Providencia Regatta organised by Club de Pesca

Cartagena to Providencia – 400 miles

Providencia to St Andres – 60 miles

St Andres to Cartagena – 400 miles (Cruisers may want to continue to San Blas Islands or other destinations)

October – Offshore Naval Regatta organised by Club Naval

Cartagena to Rosario Islands – 20 miles

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