The Puerto Rico Heineken International Regatta & Puerto Rico International Dinghy Regatta brings the northern Caribbean spring sailing season to a close.
Two years ago the Puerto Rico Heineken International Regatta (PRHIR) and Puerto Rico International Dinghy Regatta (PRIDR) hit a hiatus. This year, 55 boats set sail out of the Yacht Club at Palmas del Mar, in Humacao, for a second annual and successful reprise held May 31st to June 1st. Word is quickly spreading about the renewed regattas superb sailing conditions, cold beer, hot music, plenty of fun – both off and onshore – and most of all excellent competition.
Two of Puerto Rico’s fastest boats topped the racing classes in the PRHIR. Racing A represented a three-boat one-design Melges 32 class won by Luis Juarbe on SOCA.
“We went out the day prior to practice and learned what we needed: to load the rig and create tons of punching power to go through the chop,” says Juarbe, who added that in the wake of a challenging season plagued by gear failure his crew were hungry for a win. “Our greatest competition was Smile and Wave. They beat us on maneuvers, so we had to outdrive them and go fast, fast, fast. This was extremely hard since we had ten races total and the Melges 32 is a very physical boat.”
In Racing B, the team aboard Jonathan Lipuscek’s J/105 Dark Star, beat the competition by a nine-point margin and with nine bullets in ten races. Dark Star experienced a rocky beginning by getting caught on the wrong side of a 30-degree wind shift at the start, yet they were able to play catch up and finish second to Jose Teixidor’s well-sailed J/70,
Cachondo. Impeccable boat handling and boat speed from start to finish rocketed Dark Star to first over the next four races. They held this position to the end in spite of trouble in the first day’s last race when the spinnaker halyard tangled in the roller furling during the last leeward rounding.
“We had to douse the jib and use its halyard for the spinnaker for the last run,” says Rafi Martinez, tactician aboard Dark Star. “This was fast thinking on the part of our bowman Ricky ‘Millo’ Marquez. In the end, good boat prep, good crew work, minimization of errors and having fun was the key to our success.”
Gilberto Rivera at the helm of his J/24 Urayo, topped this six-boat one-design class,
“It was an exciting weekend,” says Rivera. “We finished the first day with a comfortable lead. The second, our strategy was to try to get the most bullets possible and focus on our speed. We accomplished this and won seven cases of Heineken beer, the same weight as tactician Stanley López. Now our goal is to represent Puerto Rico in the J/24 class at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games.”
Jerome O’Neill’s J/39 Crystal, won the PHRF Jib & Main class.
Meanwhile, in the PRIDR, which took place simultaneously with the PRHIR, the team of Francisco ‘Faccio’ Figueroa and Jolliam Berríos won the Hobie 16 class.
“We had a good fleet of 11 Hobie 16s with excellent competitive level,” says Berríos who, with Figueroa, is a past Hobie 16 North American champion and was back sailing after a one year break. “We had no expectations, just to go out and have fun. Everyone was very competitive since we are all measuring our performance right before the qualifying events for the CAC Games.”
In other results, José Arturo Díaz won Optimist Advanced, Pedro Luis Fernández the Sunfish Open, and Xavier Méndez Mateo in the Nativo class.
Looking ahead, organizer’s plan to improve on this year’s success and reach out to neigboring Caribbean sailors to bring their boats, explains Eric Tulla, president of the Puerto Rico Sailing Federation. “We have already secured our commitments to present the Puerto Rico International Heineken Regatta during the Memorial Day Weekend of May 23rd to 25th 2015. Additionally, we have secured serious interest in setting up a circuit among the other Caribbean Heineken sponsored regattas to intensify the competitiveness and friendships with a crescendo finale in Puerto Rico. We invite everyone to come join the party!”