January 18, Day 1
The weather was nothing like the forecast and that’s too bad because the forecast called for a beautiful 12-15 knots from the east and partly sunny. The day started with a slow upwind crawl going west to the middle of San Juan harbor followed by a three hour wait for wind to get the SanSe Vela Cup started. The normal breeze finally showed up around 2pm and things got going in earnest with a fast-acting race committee firing off six short races for the IC24 class. By short I mean 12 minutes to complete the two windward/leeward laps!
The racing was intense from the get-go in the first event of the Bring it on PUR Series promoting the 45th BVI Spring Regatta. With a $10K Moorings Yacht Vacation as the top prize and other goodies from the BVI Spring Regatta, and Gill, makers of technical marine clothing, nobody was giving an inch on the tiny race course. The fickle and shifty breeze next to Bahia Urbana favored those with good starts and those quick or lucky enough to reach the new breeze. A fleet of eight boats made for a crowded course and tight racing.
Ponce’s Fraito Lugo won three races and finished the others in second place to take a strong lead ahead of Carlos Sierra on day one. Tortola’s top sailor Colin Rathbun only found his groove in the last two races finishing with two bullets and ending the day one point behind Sierra. Lugo’s strong performance highlighted the inconsistent scores of the rest of the fleet. Already people were throwing out a big number (even Lugo), which goes to show how unforgiving very short courses can be and how they penalize even the slightest mistake. We saw more 360˚ penalties being taken yet heard a less than average amount of screaming. Kudos to a civilized sailing fleet!
Our 7th position at the end of the day does not speak to how well we were sailing on the Smile and Wave Sailing Team, especially since we spent lots more time getting the boat ready than practicing. At the last minute we brought top PR sailor Fernando Padro on board to do trim, while the rest of the crew work was spot on including that of 15 year old Opti sailor Rafa Tirado who pulled his weight by helping dousing the spinnaker. We sailed well but the rest of the fleet sailed better. We finished just two points back from fifth so a mid-fleet finish was well within our reach going into the second day.
January 17, Day 2
There was even less wind on day two. Again we sat and we waited and then waited some more. Finally, a bit of breeze showed up from the south, 90 degrees off the anticipated direction. We waited some more for the committee to change the course but then the wind returned from its usual easterly direction and racing got underway.
The first start was a screw-up as the wind swung and died just before the gun. Every boat went for a pin end start, half of them on port tack and it was, to say the least, messy. Four boats were OCS, three had to do penalty turns and the ones usually with crappy starts got away clean. Carlos Sierra scored the first bullet of the day fortifying his runner up position, while third place Colin Rathbun scored an uncommon dead last allowing the rest of fleet a shot at the podium. Kike Gonzalez got a sweet second place and I am sure that felt pretty good. With the second race things were back to ‘normal’ with Fraito Lugo continuing his winning ways.
Out of 11 races, six were won by Lugo (Orion), with Rathbun (Foxy Lady) winning three and Sierra (Fuakata) and Jose Texidor (Cachondo) scoring one each. Lugo was luckier than anyone (read, better sailors, better prepared), but it was Sierra’s consistency (his worst discard was a fourth place) that earned him his Silver medal over Rathbun.
Our Team Smile and Wave did much better on Sunday with better starts, and slightly better tactical calls (better luck, really) to bounce up to fourth for the regatta basically leading the second tier of racers.
Club Nautico de San Juan again delivered on the hospitality with very nice food and cold beer waiting for the competitors on their return from racing. Nice trophies were handed to the podium finishers.
IC24 racing in Puerto Rico is growing in size and intensity thanks to the clubs and marinas that are supporting the growth of sailing in Puerto Rico. Club Nautico de San Juan and the Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club along with their fine sailing schools deserve a special shout-out for putting on such great events. Puerto Del Rey, in Fajardo, and the Yacht Club at Palmas del Mar host the largest events on Puerto Rico’s east side and have a long history of organizing strong sailing regattas. Thanks go to BRISA for training the race officers who are running these regattas and organizing many more.
1st Fraito Lugo Orion
2nd Carlos Sierra Fuakata
3rd Colin Rathbun Foxy Lady
4th Jaime Torres Smile and Wave
5th Greg Fink & Keki Figueroa Kuliagus II
6th Jose Texidor Cachondo
7th Gilberto Rivera Por Fin
8th Kike Gonzalez Qba Libre
9th Jose Fullana KQ-lo