San Juan, Puerto Rico. Sailors from six islands took home trophies from the 12th San Juan International Regatta (SJIR). The February 1 to 3 regatta hosted by Club Nautico de San Juan welcomed over 140 sailors in 102 boats racing in 10 classes. Conditions proved perfect with generally sunny skies and winds blowing under 10 knots the first day and gusting to nearly 20 knots on the final day of competition. The mark of a truly great regatta is the opportunity for lots of racing. True to reputation, the SJIR Race Committee ran as many as 13 to 16 races over three days for the dinghy classes and 7 races for the newly-added CSA spinnaker class.
“What is so good is the participation of sailors from so many islands and in so many classes. It really levels the playing field and creates a great competition,” says regatta chairman, Luis Fabre. “It is also wonderful to welcome the first-time addition of the CSA Spinnaker class. This has added a whole new dimension to the regatta. Next year we hope to add a CSA Jib & Main class as well.”
In the 9-boat CSA class, it was Puerto Rico’s Julio Reguero helming his J/105, Umakua who won. Jaime Torres aboard his Melges 32, Smile and Wave, came in second and Sergio Sagramoso’s J/105, Lazy Dog, third.
There were two keelboat classes. Puerto Rico’s Keki Figueroa won the 6-boat IC24 class by one point over second place finisher and fellow islander, Robbie Ramos. Fernando Irizzary rounded out third place. In the J/24 class, Puerto Rico’s Jose Fullana on KQLO placed first with Jaime Balzac driving Razzmatazz into second and Francisco Levy on Blow Me third.
The Optimist dinghy represented the largest one-design fleet of the regatta with 60 boats.
The BVI’s Sam Morrell won the 13- to 15-year-old Red Fleet and the Advanced Optimist overall, followed by St. Thomas, USVI’s Scott McKenzie second and St. John, USVI’s Paige Clarke third.
“The conditions were generally good, but it was sometimes shifty,” explains Morrell. “The Lasers started before us, so my strategy was to look ahead right before our start to see how the wind was affecting them.”
In the 11- to 12-year-old Blue Fleet, Antigua’s Rocco Falcone led with fellow islander, Louis Bavay second and the BVI’s Thad Lettsome third.
“The winds here are just like where I train at home at the Antigua Yacht Club. That helped,” says Falcone, who receives expert coaching not only from the AYC sailing director, but also from his father, Carlo Falcone, of Caccia Ala Volpe fame.
St. Maarten’s Nathan Smith won the age 10- and-under White Fleet with a sizable lead over fellow competitors, St. John, USVI’s Mateo Di Blasi second and St. Thomas, USVI’s Julian van den Driessche third.
“This is the second time I’ve sailed in this regatta,” explains Smith. “That was helpful, because I knew where I was going and could focus on tactics.”
Antigua’s Daniel Smith championed the 23-boat beginner Optimist Green class. Puerto Rico’s Mauricio Porrata finished second and Jose Guillermo Mendez third.
In the Laser 4.7 Class, it was the BVI’s Matthew Oliver who triumphed. The race for second was a keen one with Puerto Rico’s Julio Rojo handing the BVI’s Mollee Donovan third. Though both tied in points, Rojo ended with a greater number of first place finishes.
Puerto Rico’s Pedro Fernandez led the Laser Radial Class with fellow islander, Agustin-Lazaro-Lugo, second and St. Martin’s Rhone Findlay third.
“I have a lot of passion for the sport,” says Fernandez of Laser sailing. “My father sailed Lasers and he helps me train. I train five days a week.”
In the Sunfish class, Puerto Rico’s Gregg Fyffe won with nearly flawless first place finishes.
“I finished second here last year,” says Fyffe. “I’m used to getting whipped by the kids, but not this time. It was a good regatta.”
For full results and more information, visit: www.nauticodesanjuan.com
The CNSJIR is an outgrowth of the Club’s junior sailing program, which was launched in the 1970s by Andres Nevares and strengthened in the late 1990s by then-Commodore Richard Christiansen and Ricky Adsuar. The program, which is now directed by Berríos since 1998, combines technical knowledge with practical hands-on sailing experience. It’s a combination that definitely works. For example, the Puerto Rican sailors who won fleet and team racing awards at the 2008 Optimist World Championships were graduates of the program as were six of the island’s sailors who won five gold and one bronze medal sailing at the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayagüez.
For more information, contact principal race officer, José ‘Yoyo’ Berrios direct at: (787) 667-9936 or Email: [email protected], or Club Nautico de San Juan at: Tel: (787) 722-0177, Fax: (787) 724-8059, or Visit: www.nauticodesanjuan.com/sailingprogram/regatta_int.htm