Almost half – twenty-eight out of sixty-two boats – sailed in one of three one-design classes at the 4th annual Culebra Heineken International Regatta, held out of Puerto Rico’s offshore island of Culebra, March 14 to 16. It seems the attraction and popularity of one-design versus handicap racing in the Caribbean comes and goes, but in Culebra, it came on strong.
Beach Cats represented the largest one-design class. All but one of the 12 competitors sailed a Hobie 16. The lone competitor that opted to sail a Tornado was Hobie 16 national champion and four-time Olympian, Enrique Figueroa with crew Jorge Hernandez.
“It’s hard to be so far ahead that you can’t see the rest of the fleet,” says Figueroa, at the tiller of his Suzuki Red Bull. “For us though, it was good to have a bigger boat on those long reaches.”
Figueroa adds, “After Rolex, we’ll go back to a Hobie 16 and start preparing for the next CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Games.”
The 2010 CAC Games will be held in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
A delegation from Puerto Rico has also submitted a bid to host the Hobie 16 Worlds on the island in 2009.
St. Croix’s Chris Schreiber sailed his Hobie 16, Auto World Express, and loved it. “Sailing beach cats, especially with ten other similar boats on the line, is a blast. Even when you’re going slowly you’re going fast.”
Tight, action-packed racing is what the BVI’s Andrew Waters loves about one-design racing. He sailed his IC24, Mio Roaming, in the nine-boat IC24 class.
“Racing was tight as usual,” says Waters, who finished second behind Puerto Rico’s Fraito Lugo on Orion. “The new Puerto Rican boats were settling into the class well and the skippers and crews had their boats going fast.”
About the advantages of one-design racing, Waters adds, “With one-design racing you always know its going to be close. All the boats are essentially going at the same speed. It’s the crew skill and tactics that work to beat the competition. Plus, you can calculate the points you need to win in your head.”
Seven J/24s made up the third one-design class of the regatta. However, only three vessels were Class Legal. The J/24 is a recognized class in the CAC Games, hence the strong interest in this boat in spite of the growing IC24 class.
St. Croix’s Beecher Higby, who crewed aboard Morgan Dale’s Melges 24, Silver, wasn’t sailing one-design this event, but his heart is in this form of racing.
“I like one-design – Lasers, Rhodes 19s – you name it. Either you’re ahead or behind. You don’t need to do any calculations to figure it out. And, you get to do a lot more racing.”
The Stanton brothers from St. Croix sailed the other Melges 24 and won the Spinnaker I class.
“There’s more action between boats and that’s fun in one-design racing,” says Peter Stanton, who called tactics aboard Devil 3. “One-design classes are usually simple and relatively inexpensive. That helps the class grow. Melges 24s are more technical and tactical. That’s what we like about racing them.”
The downside of handicap racing, says St. Thomas’ Jim Jameson, who crewed aboard Chris Thompson’s J/27, J-Walker, “is that you can race your butt off and cross the line first and really have no way of knowing how you did unless you know the handicaps of the other boats in your class.”
One-design or handicap, the BVI’s Chris Haycraft, who sails IC24s and also aboard his father’s Sirena 38, Pipedream, sums up the debate best when he says, “Its all fun. There is a time and place for everything.”
The event was the second leg of the Cape Air C.O.R.T. (Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle) which concluded with the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival April 4 to 6.
Complete racing results are posted at www.culebrainternationalregatta.com.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.
2008 Results (Top Boat in Class)
Devil 3, Melges 24, Chris Stanton, St. Croix, USVI (7)
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly, Kirby 25, John Foster, St. Thomas, USVI (6)
Lost Horizon II, J/122, James Dobbs, Antigua (7)
JIB & MAIN
Bonne Chance, Beneteau, Bernardo Gonzalez, Puerto Rico (5)
Orion, Fraito Lugo, Puerto Rico (19)
Maximus, Jose Santiago, Puerto Rico (13)
Suzuki Red Bull, Tornado, Enrique Figueroa, Puerto Rico (5)
ST. THOMAS’ HACKSTAFF WINS OPTI, PUERTO RICO’S CAROLUS TOPS LASERS AT CULEBRA INTERNATIONAL DINGHY REGATTA
Twenty-seven junior sailors from Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands competed aboard Optimist and Laser dinghies inside Ensenada Honda Bay at the Culebra International Dinghy Regatta.
Puerto Rico’s Patrick Carolus had made the jump to Laser Standards for December’s Orange Bowl Regatta in Miami. But he opted to sail Laser Radials in Culebra because there were no other Standards competitors. Still, he bested the class.
Fifteen-year-old Carolus explains, “I started into the second and last day of racing behind David (Alfonso) and got lucky. He broke his mast on the third race and I overtook him. It finally got down to the last race to decide the winner.”
Conditions proved light and shifty, but St. Thomas’ Addison Hackstaff bested the Optimist fleet overall and the 13- to 15-year-old Red Fleet with some astute reckoning.
“I looked at the flags on the boats inside the bay and I could see the shifts coming,” Hackstaff says. “At one point, there was a 180-degree shift through the course, so being able to read the winds was really important – that, and consistency. I always tried to stay in the top three finishers.”
Twenty-one Optimist sailors entered the competition, a remarkable number given that ten stalwart Opti sailors from the USVI and Puerto Rico were away at the Optimist South American Championships in Paracas, Peru.
“We had a great turnout of the younger sailors and it bodes well for the future of our sport,” says Ronnie Ramos, principal race officer for the dinghy regatta.”
Dinghy Regatta 2008 Results (Top Boat in Class)
OPTIMIST RED (Age 13-15)
Addison Hackstaff, St. Thomas, USVI (9)
OPTIMIST BLUE (Age 11 & 12)
Nicholas Gartner, St. Thomas, USVI (29)
OPTIMIST WHITE (Age 10 & Under)
Colin Brego, St. John, USVI (36)
Victor Rodriguez, Puerto Rico (11)