Caribbean sailors held their own against those from Central America in the medal-winning department at the 22nd Central American and Caribbean Games, which took place November 14th – 30th, in Veracruz, Mexico. This is spectacular considering that the sailors from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Aruba represented less than half of the eight medal-winning countries, yet they brought home half of the gold.
Seven wins in 10 races and a 13-point lead over the second place competitor from Cuba easily earned Puerto Rico’s Raul Rios and crew Fernando Monllor gold in the Open Snipe Class.
“We have sailed against most of our competition in previous regattas and we felt prepared with our physical training for this event,” says Rios, who with Monllor won the Snipe Western Hemisphere and Orient Championship in September. “Because of this we were able to compete at a very high level no matter the wind range. We experienced all conditions, from light and shifty to wavy and plus 20-knot gusts.”
This is Rios second Gold medal at a CAC Games, with his first won at Mayaguez 2010. Fellow Puerto Rican sailors Agustin Lazaro and Juan Negron brought home the Bronze in the Snipe class.
Yet another Puerto Rican team, that of Enrique Figueroa and Franchesca Valdés won Gold in the Hobie 16 Class. The duo’s performance was spectacular with six wins in 10 races and a 12-point lead over the second and third place teams from Venezuela and Guatemala, respectively. This makes the 7th Gold Figueroa has earned at these Games.
“What I like best about this event is the challenge,” says Figueroa. “Every four years is a test among the best Hobie 16 sailors in the world. The CAC Games hosts the highest concentration of Hobie 16 talent. At 50 years old it is nice to still be competitive among a fleet that keeps getting younger and stronger.”
Playing it safe gave the J/24 team from St. Thomas, USVI only three bullets. Yet consistency paid off when skipper Taylor Canfield and crew Phillip Shannon, Max Nickbarg and Addison Caproni won the gold by 11-points over the second place finisher from Guatemala and third place Puerto Rican team with Efrain ‘Fraito’ Lugo at the helm.
“We transitioned through the varying conditions very well with a conservative approach that called for good starts and staying with the mass of the fleet,” says Canfield, who is currently the world’s number one match racer. “This was my first CAC games and taking home the gold was incredible!”
Philipine Van Aanholt, a long-time resident of Curacao who sailed under the Aruba flag, also posted three wins as well as an eight-point lead over fellow competitors from Venezuela and Guatemala to win the Gold in the Women’s Laser Radial Class.
“I started well, but on the second day I really gained ground on the rest of the fleet,” says Van Aanholt. “By the fifth day I knew I had sailed well enough to win. So the last day was a fun day to just go out and do my best knowing I had the Gold. Training in Cabarete in the Dominican Republic in October helped because we focused a lot on technique. Spending the two weeks prior to the Games doing a lot of paddleboarding in Curacao made it easier to sheet during the upwinds in heavy wind. Plus, I was coached by my Dad. We make a great team.”
The USVI’s Cy Thompson won a Silver medal in Men’s Laser.
For full results, visit http://info.veracruz2014.mx
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.