In the wake of the cancellation of this year’s Puerto Rico Heineken International Regatta due to its March date clashing with a regional primary election, is was the 5th Annual Puerto Rico Vela Cup that was the highly anticipated ‘big boat’ racing event of the season. Twenty-two yachts from throughout Puerto Rico raced in one of four classes during the May 25th to 27th regatta hosted by Club Nautico de Fajardo (CNF) out of Isleta Marina.
“Winds ranged from eight to ten knots for the first day’s two races and ten to 15 knots the second day when we ran three races,” says Agustin Rodriguez, Regatta Director and President of CNF. “On both Saturday and Sunday we ran five to ten mile reaching courses set off Fajardo and designed around the offshore islands and permanent government buoys.”
Trying to sail fast on the reaching legs was part of the winning strategy for Rafael Figueroa, driving his J/30, Marisa, to the top of Jib & Main B. “We go really fast downwind, so we tried to do our best on the reaches. Our sail plan worked better on the second day than the first.”
The first day, it was training new crew and not having a firm sail plan that led Figueroa and his team to take a second and third in the three boat class. Carlos Rosario’s Beneteau 35, Guatu, proved the boat to beat by scoring two bullets. The second day, Figueroa drove Marisa to a win in the first race and followed the same tactics to win the next two. Both Marisa and Guatu ultimately tied with eight points, yet Marisa won with a greater number of first place finishes.
“We never raced against Guatu before,” says Figueroa. “It helped once we learned how they sailed. It gave us what we needed to beat them.”
Edgar Hernandez’ Jeanneau 40, Yaredlis del Mar, won the three-boat Jib & Main A.
Meanwhile, the Racing Class was the largest with nine boats. Sergio Sagramoso, on his Ponce-based J/122 Lazy Dog, smoked with fleet with four first place finishes and an 11-point lead to win.
“We led from the beginning, winning all but one race, taking advantage of the experience gained on our J122 while racing in this, our first season on the boat,” says Sagramoso. “It was great to race again against Dark Star and Smile and Wave, the two boats with which we had intense competition at this year’s International Rolex Regatta. And, it was even better to end up on top this time.”
Gilberto Rivera’s Urayo won the six-boat one-design J/24 Class.
“It was easy racing because on the long distance races there are less maneuvers compared to shorter windward-leeward courses,” says Rivera. “It would have been more difficult to win if there were big boats in our class, but we just raced against the other J/24s. I think it was our tactics and ability to accurately read the wind shifts which allowed us to win.”
Rivera gave up a first place finish in only one race to Jose Fullana, sailing KQ-LO, who finished second in the class.
“It’s great to see more people going back to J/24 racing after the swing away to IC-24s the past few years,” Rivera adds. “I think the J/24 class in Puerto Rico will become even stronger over the next few years, especially if the Puerto Rico Sailing Federation is successful in its bid to host the J/24 North Americans in Ponce in 2014.”
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