“Practice makes perfect” is a saying that the BVI’s Rayne Duff put into action to win the highly-competitive Optimist class at the Pan Pepin International Dinghy Regatta, hosted February 4th to 7th out of Puerto Rico’s Club Nautico de San Juan (CNSJ). The Optimist was by far the largest class with 49 boats. Twenty-one Lasers and three Sunfish rounded off the fleet and the boats were raced by skippers hailing from Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Antigua. While competition was keen, conditions played a major role in who topped the leaderboard in each class.
“The first day there was little wind,” says Duff, an honor roll student whose goal is a top five finish at the Optimist World Championships in Portugal this summer. “So, I went out there and did what I had practiced. That is, I controlled my windward boats and won both of the day’s races. The second day was windier and we did a lot more races. Still, I kept cool and tried not to lose. The third day I had a good lead and all I had to do was to protect my first place position. Doing everything you’ve been practicing just right. Practice, practice, practice and training hard. That’s what it leads to – winning.”
The USVI’s Mia Nicolosi finished second overall to Duff in the Advanced Optimist Class and took home the trophy for Best Opti Girl.
“Sailing inside the harbor it was very light air and because of this it was extremely shifty,” says Nicolosi, who two weeks before finished 7th overall out of over 100 sailors and Top Girl at Mussanah Race Week in Oman. “Every race matters so I tried to gain over as many boats as possible even after I make a mistake.”
In Lasers, Puerto Rico’s Pedro Fernandez finished first in Radials.
“Each of the three days of competition were difficult and demanding because there were very good sailors, both from here in Puerto Rico and from the BVI, and light wind conditions,” says Fernandez, who also credits practice as well as preparation for his score. What I liked best about this regatta was the high level of competition and that forced me to stay focused on my main goal: to win.”
Lastly, three sailors raced in the Sunfish class. Puerto Rico’s Jaime Torres, representing BRISA (BoRinquen Island Sailing Association) beat Andres Socarras, from the Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club, in a tie-breaker where Torres won the last race.
“Nail the starts, tack on every header. Carry enough healthy snacks. Drink lots of water. Worry only about having fun. That’s how I won,” says Torres, who is well known for skippering everything from a Beneteau to Melges 32 and IC24. “The Sunfish is a nearly perfect dinghy for adults. We are seeing a resurgence in Sunfish sailing here in Puerto Rico.”
The Pan Pepin International Dinghy Regatta was run under Club Nautico’s May 2015-launched Sailing Academy.
“Here at CNSJ we are committed to developing our sailing program more every year,” says Commodore Alberto Gual.
For full results, visit: regattanetwork.com/event/11288
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.