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Puerto Rican Teams Compete in Miami’s XLII Annual Don Q Regatta

Three teams from Puerto Rico and their coach rigged up Snipes and competed in the XLII Annual Don Q Regatta in Miami, April 5th through 7th.  Puerto Rico is building its Snipe fleet in preparation for the XXI Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) to be held in Miaguez.  Snipe, Sunfish, J24, Hobie 16, Sailboard and Lasers sailors from throughout Central America and the Caribbean will flock to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico along with swimming and track and field athletes to compete.  The CAC Games, the world’s oldest regional athletic competition, are held every four years and have grown into an athletic festival of over 7,000 competitors from 32 countries.  Many of the athletes are Olympic aspirants. 

Skipper Jorge Santiago’s beaming smile is just one sign of pride that his home country won the bid to host the CAC Games and how fortunate he is to have represented Puerto Rico in the 2006 CAC Games, as well as  the Sunfish Worlds in 2001 where he finished 11th.  The sailor from Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club in southern Puerto Rico, where it is always windy, raced with crew Gabriel Bonnine in heavy air on Miami’s Biscayne Bay.   The regatta marked the first time that Bonnine and many of the Puerto Rican sailors had sailed together as a team and have participated in such a large Snipe regatta.  Jesus Rodriguez, Ricardo Minus, Enrique Torruella and Ricardo Papa raced the other two Puerto Rican entries.

As the team gears up for the CAC Games, they are getting assistance from one of the strongest Snipe fleets in the world, the Miami fleet.  2007 US Snipe National Champion, Ernesto Rodriguez, has been making regular trips to Puerto Rico to teach eager sailors the finer points of tuning and racing a Snipe.  For Santiago, learning from one of the best Snipe sailors in the world, “is a great opportunity and is helping everyone on the team to get a lot better.”  Rodriguez and crewmate, Megan Pace, finished second in the Don Q Regatta tied on points with legendary Snipe sailor Augie Diaz and Kathleen Tocke.  Past Snipe World Champions Peter and Connie Comette, won the closely contested regatta by less than one point.  The top three teams were from Miami.

The Don Q Regatta is the second regatta in the Snipe Winter Circuit in which many Snipe teams race in the Snipe Midwinter Championship in Clearwater, Florida, pack up their boats and head to Miami for three days of racing and then ship their boats to Nassau, Bahamas for the Bacardi/Gamblin Memorial Series hosted by Royal Nassau Sailing Club. 

Each of the Snipe Winter Circuit regattas has its time-honored traditions.  The Diaz family and Coconut Grove Sailing Club have hosted the Don Q Regatta since its inception shortly after Gonzalo Diaz Sr., affectionately known as The Old Man throughout the Snipe world, and his wife, Carmen, arrived in Miami from Cuba.  The Old Man organizes the racing and Carmen and her crew take care of the landside activities including serving up a traditional Cuban meal and Don Q Daiquiris following racing on Saturday.  Location, tradition, great race management and fantastic sailing conditions draw sailors to what has become one of the largest annual regattas on the worldwide Snipe calendar.

Following the Don Q, Snipe sailing resumes in Nassau where the Royal Nassau Sailing Club pulls out all of the stops to host the finale of the series.  After racing in the morning, sailors return to the club for lunch and a bit of relaxation and then head out for afternoon sailing on Montague Bay.  Fashion shows, Junkanoo, dancing to steel drums, snorkeling and diving are among the many activities fit into the regatta’s schedule.

Lynn Fitzpatrick’s articles have appeared in international publications such as Cruising World, Sailing, and AARP’s magazine, with a circulation of over 30 million. Lynn is the 2008 Sports Information Specialist for sailing at the 2008 Olympics. She champions inspirational sailing programs and has been a Snipe sailor and Regatta Chair for the 2006 Snipe Western Hemisphere & Orient Championship held in Miami.

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