PUERTO RICO'S SMILE AND WAVE WINS CLASS AT GILL COMMODORE'S CUPWednesday 14th March 2012
Simpson Bay, St. Maarten. Besting ten other boats by both seconds and minutes, Puerto Rico’s Jaime Torres’ Beneteau First 40, Smile And Wave, won its class in the Gill Commodores Cup, a two-race series for serious race boats that is scored separately yet staged as a warm-up for and kick-off to the 32nd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.
“We had a great day of sailing in challenging conditions,” says Torres, about the March 1 series. “I was frustrated and a little angry at our lack of ability to get the boat going in the first race in spite of a great start. But we turned that frustration into sheer boat speed in the second race. We had a very good second start and played the shifts just right but more importantly changed the way we sailed the boat. It made a huge difference and we sped right up. I think our secret to success was not letting our mediocre first race performance keep us from bringing it in in the second race.”
Sailing in easterly tradewinds blowing 18 to 22 knots under sunny skies and choppy seas, Smile And Wave finished third in the first race behind fellow Puerto Rico sailor, Sergio Sagramoso, driving his new J/122, Lazy Dog, and the USA’s Richard Wesslund, aboard his J/120, El Ocaso, who finished second. However, the Smile And Wave team came back to beat both of these boats, plus Trinidad Peter Peake’s Reichel Pugh 37, Slippery When Wet, in the second race by the average of a minute on corrected time.
“Lazy Dog was our toughest competition,” says Torres. “They found speed and sailed well. We expected Antilope (Switzerland’s Willem Wester’s Grand Soleil 46) to be way ahead. I’m sure they are deeply disappointed.”
Smile And Wave’s mostly Puerto Rican crew has some serious motivation to win Class 4, the largest and most competitive at the 202-boat St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.
“The pressure is on us now because now we know we can win,” says Torres. “It was all considered speculation before. Winning a one day event is not that hard. Staying consistent over three days with varying conditions will be lots tougher.”
US-based sailor and Sailing Anarchy yachting reporter, Alan Block, adds, “Look for a major battle between us and the other Puerto Ricans on Lazy Dog as well as the always well-sailed J/120 El Ocaso. Don’t count out the Bouwe Bekking-skippered Antilope either, fresh off their smack-down of the fleet at Key West last month.
Today is the round the island race. Saturday and Sunday are a mix of short-distance and windward/leeward racing.
Crew aboard Smile And Wave for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta includes Jaime Torres, Carlos Hernandez, Gretchen Ortiz, George Polish, Raul De La Torre, and Mariano Ruiz from Puerto Rico, as well as Americans Dan Peckham (Florida), , Alan Block (Michigan), Meg Hislop (St. Thomas) and Geoff Speelman (Michigan).
Smile And Wave is sponsored by Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, Discovery Bay Resort and Marina and Sebago.
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