Puerto Rican sailors may have had a home-island advantage at the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC), which were held in Boquerón Bay south of the host city of Mayaguez, in Puerto Rico. But, they also showed incredible prowess and medal-winning performances.
Over 140 sailors from 16 countries competed in eight different categories during the July 24 to 29 sailing portion of the Games. Seven to eleven races were completed in each of eight classes in winds that ranged from six to 16 knots.
In the 17-boat Sunfish class, multi-time world champion, Eduardo Cordero from Venezuela handily won over countryman, Hugolino Colmenares, while 16-year-old Ard van Aanholt from Curacao wore the Bronze.
“I started the competition very bad and after two days I was in 8th overall, so I had a lot of catching up to do,” says van Aanholt, who also beat his father and former Sunfish world champion, Cor van Aanholt, who finished 8th. “My success came from years of training and sailing in the Worlds in Italy where I also earned a Bronze medal. Also, I discuss many things with my dad, like tactics and the trim of the boat. He is an inspiration to me.”
Puerto Ricans Raul Rios and Gabriel Ramos dominated the 7-boat Snipe class with a flawless string of first place finishes.
“Ever since I left Opti’s I have been training for the Games and especially this last year I have been more focused on the Snipe than the 420,” Rios says. “Before the regatta, I was pretty scared of the North American Champions Jorge and Alejandro Murrieta from Mexico. After the first day of racing and finishing with a perfect score, everything felt a lot better as I saw our boat speed was better than theirs. Earning the gold medal was our goal. This was possible with good training with organization and learning new things everyday with the right concentration.”
The Murrieta brothers finished second, while Puerto Rican sailors, Marcos Teixidor and Ricardo Latimer ended third.
Puerto Rico’s Enrique Figueroa, a former Hobie 16 national champ and four-time Olympian, with teenage crew Victor Aponte, bulleted over half the races to win the nine-boat Hobie 16 class.
“We expected our toughest competition to come from the other Puerto Rican team of Keki Figueroa and Natalia Olivero, although the ones to watch were the teams from Venezuela and Guatemala who had been winning most of the events leading up to the Games,” says Figueroa. “In the end, I believe our training, the coaching, and mental preparation was the key to our success.”
Figueroa and Olivero won the silver, while Javier Cabildo and Katia Real earned the bronze.
The 9-boat J/24 class was easily dominated by Puerto Rico’s Efrain ‘Fraito’ Lugo, who finished with a Gold Medal and 10 point lead over Silver winner, Puerto Rico’s Jorge Santiago.
“Puerto Rico finally got the Gold and Silver in the J-24 class, but from the beginning we knew that the Mexicans were the closest rivals,” says Lugo. “From day one we were leading the class and by the third day we were still in the lead and our plan was to sail conservatively and not make mistakes. Training and preparation, teamwork and confidence in our goal for the Gold are what paid off.”
Guatemala’s Juan Maegli won the 22-boat Laser Standard class followed by the Dominican Republic’s Raul Aguayo.
“The other three guys from the top four (Juan, Jose Ruiz from Venezuela and Thomas Barrows from the U.S. Virgin Islands) were always on my mind. We were all in China (the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing) and they all beat me over there,” says Aguayo. “What was really helpful was that I was able to sail at the venue for about a week before the event and got to know the race course better than most.”
Venezuela’s Ruiz ended with the Bronze. For full results, visit: www.mayaguez2010.com/results
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based
marine writer and registered dietician.