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Puerto Rico Heineken Intl Regatta and Intl Dinghy Regatta 2011

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Close competition in several classes made for exciting racing on the last day of both the Puerto Rico Heineken International Regatta and Puerto Rico International Dinghy Regatta at Palmas del Mar. Up for grabs? Trophies and, most importantly, bragging rights to have won the island’s premier sailing event and to have won a regatta that’s a signature fixture on the Caribbean regatta scene.

Puerto Rico’s Sergio Sagramoso earned this honor, finishing first overall in the Racing fleet and first in the Racer/Cruiser class aboard his brand new Grand Soleil 54, Lazy Dog.

“We hadn’t raced in two years and I just got this boat last summer,” says Sagramoso, who raced it for the first time in the 2011 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and missed a third place class finish by one point. “It’s been a steep learning curve, but I’m happy to win and I think this shows we have learned a lot.”

The boat was new but Sagramoso was sailing with the same crew he successfully campaigned with for years aboard his former Lazy Dog, a Beneteau First 40.7.

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Interestingly, Sagramoso’s biggest competition was the Beneteau First 40.7, Smile & Wave, sailed by Puerto Rico’s Jaime Torres.

“They beat us in the first race the first day when we got a ninth place,” says Sagramoso, of Smile & Wave, “but after that we didn’t finish out of the top three.”

Meanwhile, Smile & Wave’s Torres had his own fight on the last day. One he finally won, tying St. Maarten’s Frits Bus’ Melges 24 Coors Light on points, but winning the Spinnaker A class by having a greater number of first place finishes.

In other classes, St. Croix’s Tony Sanpere, helming his J/36, Cayennita Grande, missed first place in Performance Cruising by one point to Puerto Rico’s Bernardo Gonzalez, on his Beneteau First 35, Bonne Chance.

“It was very close all weekend,” says Sanpere. “We almost felt like we were match racing them. In the end, I don’t think I had enough people to hold the boat down in the 18 to 26 knot winds.”

In the IC-24 class, Puerto Rico’s Fraito Lugo, sailing his Orion, got out front early and stayed there.

“We crossed the finish line while racing during the first race and were disqualified in that race,” says Lugo. “But after that we finished with almost all first places.”

Forty-five boats in nine classes sailed offshore between Puerto Rico’s southeastern mainland and the island of Vieques, racing on a mix of windward-leeward courses, and courses with reaches for the cruising classes in the Puerto Rico Heineken International Regatta.

Meanwhile, junior sailors competed inshore and just off Punta Candelero while racing in the two-day Puerto Rico International Dinghy Regatta.

Puerto Rico’s Jorge Gonzalez won the Optimist Class, while fellow islander, Jesus Rosario, lead in Lasers.

“There were excellent winds today for racing. It was exciting,” says Jose ‘Yoyo’ Berrios, sailing instructor at Club Nautico de San Juan, who brought some of his junior sailors to compete.

This year’s event featured two trend-setting firsts. One, there was a stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) exhibition and competition. Secondly, ONDECK Sailing brought two of its Farr 65s to race for corporate groups.

“ONDECK presents an opportunity for corporations to charter these large yachts as an incentive for their employees,” says regatta director, Angel Ayala. “This is a wonderful door that is opening for nautical tourism to Puerto Rico.”

The Puerto Rico Heineken International Regatta is the second leg of the Cape Air Caribbean Ocean Racing Circuit (CORC), which started in February with the St. Croix Yacht Club Hospice Regatta, continues with the International Rolex Regatta in St. Thomas, March 25 to 27, and concludes with the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, March 28 to April 3 out of Nanny Cay Marina on Tortola.

For more information, visit: www.prheinekenregatta.com

Report submitted by Carol M. Bareuther.

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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