Rios steals championship with a single point
By Airwaves writer Katelyn Montero
When sailors talk about a close competition, it’s hard to imagine one that came closer than the Snipe Western Hemisphere and Orient Championship. Forty-three teams from 12 different countries competed in the biennial event hosted by the San Diego Yacht Club, and in the end it all came down to a single point.
Puerto Rican skipper Raul Rios and his crew Fernando Monllor were one of three teams going into the final day of the regatta with a shot at first. By the end of the day, they won the championship by a single point.
The California regatta featured two different courses: one inside of South Bay San Diego and the other out on the Pacific Ocean. Each location was meant to showcase a different skill set for Snipe sailors, and the two courses proved essential in differentiating the top pack of the fleet from the rest of the scoreboard.
The majority of competitors came into the regatta with more experience in bay sailing, and the relatively flat waters on both bay days made speed a top priority. With more chop and slightly bigger breezes, the ocean course required smart, tactical handling in order for boats to get the top scores.
In order to do well in this regatta, competitors needed to demonstrate mastery on both courses, as well as extremely consistent scores across the board. Champions Raul Rios and Fernando Monllor, the sole entrants from Puerto Rico, knew that coming away with first place wouldn’t be easy.
“We knew it was going to be a tough day, but we just had to focus on one boat at a time, one leg at a time,” said Rios. The skipper knew the boat to watch would be the Argentina team of Luis Soubie and his crew Diego Mini Lipszyc. After a poor performance on day four, Rios lost his top spot and fell down to third place. Soubie and Lipszyc held the lead going into day five, but couldn’t hold on to No. 1 during the last two races of the regatta.
“Today was a disaster,” Soubie said of Race 9 and Race 10. “We ended the day feeling like we didn’t do much racing at all today. We were constantly in an emergency or getting away from trouble.” Both races ended up being throw out scores, but Soubie’s consistent campaign in the first four race days left them well poised for a podium finished.
No surprise to the podium’s third place spot was the Brazilian team of Breno Bianchi and Flavio de Castro. While the top two teams each had their own bad day, the Brazilians sailed evenly across the five-day regatta, with their throw-out scores just barely making double digits.
This regatta also functioned as a qualifier for Toronto’s Pan American games in 2015. Many coaches made the far trek across international waters to insure that their country could qualify in time to compete in PanAms to be held in Canada. Puerto Rico, USA, Cuba, Ecuador and Colombia have all qualified during this regatta, while the Bahamas and Mexico remain unqualified.
At the end of the day, Soubie decided that if he was going to lose to anyone, he was happy it was Raul Rios. “He’s the future of the Snipe Class,” Soubie said. “He’s only 20 years old. He’s going to make this class proud.”
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