While a massive party for Puerto Rico’s patron saint was happening in the streets of Old San Juan, top sailors from Puerto Rico battled light and shifty winds at the San Sebastian Vela Cup to fire up the 2015 North Caribbean sailing season.
Organized by the Club Nautico de San Juan Sailing Program and expertly run by BRISA’s David Kerr and Cacho Pastrana and a cadre of volunteers, the event featured short courses with the windward mark just meters from the festivities. Spectators were treated to a show as the three Melges 32s and six IC24s launched spinnakers right next to a street-side bar!
The challenges posed by racing in a busy commercial harbor were deftly handled by the race officer who managed to perfect courses in spite of the wildly shifting winds and keep the racing tight but fair. A short start line was set adjacent to the landing path at the executive airport. The leeward mark was placed just off the ferry channel and the reaching mark not very far from the cruise ship dock.
On day one, Sergio Sagramoso’s Melges 32 Lazy Dog, driven by nine-time Rolex Regatta winner Fraito Lugo, scored two bullets to take a substantial lead over Luis Juarbe’s SOCA and Jaime Torres’ Smile and Wave. SOCA’s new sails gave them good speed but a few boat handling snafus cost them in the end. Smile and Wave started slowly but after some minor retuning, and a great lunch, recovered to take the win in the last race of the day.
The IC24s competition was hardcore as each of the six teams demonstrated their ability to win races, especially in light and shifty conditions. On the first day, Cachondo, skippered by Marco Teixidor, and Por Fin, skippered by Gilberto Rivera, battled for first place, swapping wins. Por Fin was consistent in getting off the line and catching the first shift, while Cachondo did an excellent job recovering from two mediocre starts. Both teams proved to be the fastest and most consistent throughout the weekend, separating themselves from the pack as the regatta progressed.
“We always kept attacking, playing the shifts upwind never giving up no matter how far back we were” said Marco Teixidor.
The IC 24 class welcomed newcomers Francisco Figueroa, Juan Moline and Eric Tulla – each demonstrated their great potential as skippers by rounding the top marks in first place on various occasions. These teams will surely present a threat for the top teams as they spend more time on the boat and improve their boat handling skills.
Sailflow nailed the Sunday forecast of 8-9 knots from the Northeast and three more races were run for the Melges 32 Class and the IC24s. This was good enough for both Cachondo and Smile and Wave to pick up the pace and score bullets for class wins.
“Kudos to Club Nautico de San Juan for reinstating their sailing program,” said Smile and Wave’s Jaime Torres. “And special thanks to all the volunteers and competitors that came together to make this killer event happen.”
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1st Cachondo Marco Teixidor
2nd Por Fin Gilberto Rivera
3rd Kooliagus Greg Fink/Keki Figueroa
Melges 32 Owner/Driver
1st Smile and Wave Jaime Torres
2nd Lazy Dog Sergio Sagramoso/Fraito Lugo
3rd SOCA Luis Juarbe