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Puerto Rican Sailors Dominate at 8th Club Nautico

Ideal conditions—calm seas, winds 12 to 15 knots with an occasional gust to 20-plus and plenty of sun—set the scene for some great racing at the 8th Annual Club Nautico de San Juan International Regatta, held February 12 to 15 out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Regatta director Jose Gilberto ‘Yoyo’ Berrios says, “We were able to get in 18 races for each class in the three days of racing. We’ve never been able to do this much before. I think the sailors were tired from all the back-to-back racing, and at the same time, they were smiling because they were having so much fun.”

Over 60 sailors, hailing from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands and U.S. mainland, competed in Optimist dinghies, Lasers and Snipes.

The largest group were the Optimists, with Puerto Rican sailor Juan ‘Juanky’ Perdomo handily winning the class’s overall prize with an easy six point lead and string of bullets.

Hard work combined with good coaching is the secret to Perdomo’s sailing success, says his father, Carlos Perdomo. “He’s training three days after school and all day on weekends with Robby Bisi (an Argentinean/US national coach and former accomplished Opti sailor) at the San Juan Bay.” Perdomo is training for the Optimist South American Championships set for April 2-12 in Salinas, Ecuador.

Meanwhile, Perdomo also topped the 13- to 15-year old Red Fleet, while St. Thomas’ Addison Hackstaff won the 11- and 12-year old Blue Fleet, St. John’s Colin Brego the 10-and under White Fleet, and the BVI’s Robert Poole the beginner Green Fleet.

In the Laser Radial Class, Puerto Rico’s David Alfonso topped the class with 12 bullets in 17 races.

“This year there wasn’t much competition from the Virgin Islands,” says Alfonso. “The sailors who did race were novices who did not have much experience in heavy winds. Patrick Carolus was sailing, though, and provided much competition. I just hiked really hard and we (Patrick and I) traded first places throughout.” Next up for Alfonso is college sailing.

“I was accepted at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and I am pretty sure I’m going to attend for undergrad,” says Alfonso. “I met one of the coaches, and I know some of the sailors, so all that’s left is to get there, work hard, and sail in the cold.”

Puerto Rico’s Patrick Carolus finished second in the Laser Radial class, while fellow islander Jose Soler, ended third.

The reigning Optimist World Champion, Puerto Rico’s Raul Rios, moved on to the Snipe Class and proved he was just as competitive with a win that put him 15 points ahead of the second place finisher.

“Well for me, my success in the regatta was simple,” says Rios. “First of all, I was training really hard for two months after the Orange Bowl Regatta with my crew Antonio Sifre. Secondly, we both have good communication and we like to sail with each other. Without good teamwork you can’t have good results.”

Rios adds, “I sail Snipes in order to learn techniques for future boats like the 470. Also, I’d like to represent Puerto Rico, with Antonio, in the Central American and Pan-American Games. In these last few months, there has been more motivation in the Snipe class than in years prior, with several new sailors in the class and more competition.”

The team of Fernando Paes and Fernando Monllor finished second in the Snipe Class, followed by Ramon Gonzalez and Angel Sanchez. All teams were from Puerto Rico.

In spite of the good turnout, participation was down this year. Berrios says, “I changed the dates to a long holiday weekend. Unfortunately, it was the same dates as the Miami Boat Show, and with the economy, we weren’t able to get the 80-plus sailors we have in the past.”

In 2010, Berrios adds, “the dates will tentatively be February 6 to 8 or the first weekend in February as has been customary.”

The Club Nautico de San Juan International Regatta is one of a number of youth sailing events in the Caribbean that have boosted the level of talent in the region. “Junior sailors get enthusiastic when they know they’re training for a big event like this,” says Berrios. “It also helps them improve their skills. Its no wonder our kids are doing well in events outside the Caribbean as well.”

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