The Caribbean International Boat Show wasn’t the only action happening in Puerto Rico on March 21 – 23. Over 30 boats arrived to fleet and match race on the waters off Fajardo in the 3rd Annual Ulysse Nardin / BoRinquen Islands Sailing Association (BrISA) Cup.
“We had two beautiful days of sailing,” explains Rafi Martinez, tactician aboard Jonathan Lipuscek’s J/105, Dark Star, winner of Racing Class A and the Overall Winner of the two racing classes. “The winds were out of the southeast between 11 and 13 knots with flat water. We were grouped with three Melges 32s, and with us being the slower boat, we knew that we had to sail our own race and let the Melges battle it out between themselves. The overall prize of an Ulysse Nardin watch was really sweet. This prize makes the regatta very competitive and it shows since we had the largest racing fleet we’ve had in a while in an event in Puerto Rico. Hopefully, the prize watch will attract more Caribbean boats for next year’s event.”
Paco Bonnet helming his J/92, Antojo, enjoyed clear sailing in Racing Class B. Bonnet and his team scored four first place bullets in six races to win by seven points over closest competitor, Kike González, aboard his J/80 Otra Kosa.
The J/24 class staged fiercely competitive battles as evidenced by aggressive starts and dog fights akin to those in the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) where Puerto Rico earned both the gold and silver medals. Gilberto Rivera driving his Urayo took first scoring no less than first in three out of eleven races.
“We competed in a multiple windward-leeward race format,” Rivera says. “There’s a few new guys in the class that are experimenting with the way to sail a J/24 in racing mode. However, our closest competition was Eduardo Ortiz on Colibri. We now have more than 14 years’ experience in the boat, so we were able to take advantage of the wind shifts and sailed very fast. This regatta was great preparation for us ahead of the CAC Games this summer.”
It was a close race to the finish in the Jib & Main Class. Juan Moline’s J/92, Anchor Heart, won by one point over Mariano Richiusa driving the Tripp 26, Ladies First/Guilt Tripp.
“We like to introduce people to the sport and two of our crew had no sailing experience,” Moline explains. “The team on the Tripp figured out our lack of boat handling weakness after we won the first race and they made us tack several times on the upwind legs of the next three races where they beat us. The first day, though, we were really happy because one of our crew was a 14-year-old girl who just transitioned from Optis to Lasers and she steered the boat in a couple of downwind legs. The next day, we improved our starts, had a faster boat on the upwind legs and maintained longer tacks. The last race was especially stressful. We tried to maintain a balance between minimizing maneuvers and covering our rivals. It was in the last race we got the biggest margin over our rivals to win.”
The BrISA Cup introduced a ‘Race as You Are’ category to encourage cruising class boats complete with biminis, dodgers, dinghies and even BBQs to compete. Guillermo Mullet sailed his Beneteau 42, The Rose, to first in this new five-boat class.
In addition to the big boat regatta, 20 skippers pit their skills against one another in a remote control match race. Fraito Lugo, of Orion fame, won. This race was sponsored by the Windhorse Mini Yacht Club using their 54-inch mini chalanas.
“We will be planning and promoting the 2015 [event] way ahead of time in order invite our fellow racers and cruisers from other Caribbean Islands,” says organizer and commodore of BrISA South, Graham Castillo.
BrISA is the only non-profit organization exclusively devoted to developing the sport of sailing in Puerto Rico. Sailing education is BrISA’s most important pillar. The organization is in the process of developing accessible sailing centers throughout Puerto Rico.
For information, visit www.brisaweb.net