Monday, February 5, 2018

Exciting Chiloe Santander Regatta in Chile

J/105 HDI Seguros women's sailing team(Puerto Montt, Chile)- The archipelago of Chiloé in the southern region of Chile known famously as “Patagonia”, has been the site of the extraordinary event called the “Regata de Chiloe” (Chiloe Regatta) that takes place every two years.  The boats and crews all convene in Puerto Montt, then head south towards the archipelago, one of the most unique places to sail in the world- imagine spectacular snow-capped Andes Mountains mixed with the Swedish archipelago off Stockholm- truly a mind-bending spectacle of nature in its most raw, unspoiled form.

Chiloe regatta courseIt's a wonderful stage and a very complicated one to sail. For a week, more than 800 sailors gather together for lots of sailing and socializing.  There are more than 200 miles (370 kilometers) of racing in eight legs, where winds and strong currents can be a problem even for the most seasoned navigators.

One of those teams this year were a 100% all-women’s crew on the J/105 HDI SEGUROS.  The group of eight women between 18 and 49 years old sailed well and certainly had their moments of glory!

Paula Herman (18), Carmina Malsch (19), Roberta Herman (19), Sofia Middleton (24), Renatta Parodi (20), Amelia Zulueta (33), Valeria Vila (49), and skipper Aurelia Zulueta (35) were well-prepared to face the top competition in the J/105 class.

J/105 women's sailing team in ChileThe team trained hard for months prior to the competition; they knew that it was not an easy mission to race against Chile’s top offshore sailors. But, they were competitive, relying on their experience (6 of them had already sailed the 2016 edition of Chiloe), teamwork, and determination.  Sofia Middleton commented, "Our performance was quite good, the fact that we are women does not scare us.  The funny thing is that we are a team competing in a category that is characterized by people who have been sailing a long time together, and despite that fact, we have been in the fight for the whole regatta! Thanks to our supporters- our families and HDI SEGUROS that helped sponsor our team!”

This year’s event was not without some hiccups, as twenty-eight J/Boats showed up for the 2018 edition of the Regata de Chiloé, in the Southern part of Chile, that took place from January 20 to 27.  For those “in the know”, this event truly ranks as one of the most awesome “bucket list” events you should sail anywhere around the world- the vistas are truly eye-opening!

J/105 sailing Chiloe RegattaThis year, the regatta started in Castro, the main island in the Chiloe archipelago.  Then, for seven days the sailing teams and their “mother ships” meandered through the channels, straits and fiords that give form to the Chiloé Archipelago.  The point-to-point coastal racing saw the boats visit gorgeous anchorages and harbors in Dalcahue, Mechuque, Hornopirén and Calbuco and finished in Puerto Montt, where two windward-leeward buoy races where scheduled.

Logistics posed a challenge to the enthusiastic captains, since the nearest marina with lift services was in Puerto Montt.  That meant a 650 mile trip trailering boats from their base in the ports near Santiago and then a two-day delivery trip crossing the Ancud Gulf and down south through several straits just to be on the starting line at Castro.

J/105 in ditch in ChileOf all the hiccups some boats suffered, perhaps the J/105 TRICALMA had the “closest near miss’ (like total loss) halfway down the Pan-Americana Sur highway.  The boat and trailer ended up off the road with minor scratches after crossing a four feet wide ditch on a US-made Triad trailer that kept it safe.  However, the SUV towing it had a far worse outcome, while the driver was OK, the truck was declared a total loss!

Another J/105, RECLUTA, also faced difficulties.  While they were repairing their broken down trailer in Temuco on the side of the highway, they could see a huge logging truck flying down the highway towards them on the same side of the road.  Unfortunately, the truck driver misjudged his distance while passing, leaving an enormous gash 12 feet long and 1-2” inches deep along the side of the hull!  After emergency repairs J/88 sailing off Chilein Puerto Montt, RECLUTA made it to the start.

On the water, Chiloé gave the fleet all the expected challenges. In an abnormally sunny week, the crews had to deal with 90º wind shifts, calms, 30 knots gusts crossing the gulf (that made the boats plane along at 15+ knots), tide currents and shallow sea obstacles.

According to Juan Reid, the twenty-seven one-design J/Boats (J/24, J/70, J/105) and the one J/88 sailing IRC Class constituted nearly 50% of the sixty-boat fleet. 

J/105s reaching in Chiloe regatta in ChileSaid Juan, “the most spectacular day was the Mechuque to Hornopirén leg with 30nm of sailing and winds up to 25 kts crossing the huge gulf.  That produced large, choppy seas with a TWA of 135 to 150 degree.  The J/70s and J/24s started first, with the J/70s basically planing the entire 30nm up to 16 kts of boatspeed, and averaging well over 14 kts the whole way!  In fact, the only boats in the entire fleet of 60 to beat the J/70s to the finish line was just one of the Soto 40s that started only a half-hour later!

In the same conditions, the dozen J/105s also had a fast ride, though they could not keep up with the J/70s that kept sailing away.  Even then, the J/105s were going downwind at speeds of 12-15 kts. 

But, the best J/Boat performance of the day may have been the J/88, hitting top speeds of 18.5 to 19.0 kts constantly and, a result, won the leg on corrected time in the IRC Class!”

J/105 Grand Slam off ChileFrom day one, the J/105 fleet saw GRAND SLAM, with Patricio Seguel at the helm, take a comfortable lead.  Then, with three 1sts in the five coastal races they finished with just 6 pts net (including one toss race).  The silver went to Rufino Melero’s RUFIAN with a 4-1-8-3-4 record for 12 pts net.  Then, rounding out the podium with the bronze was the broken/ repaired TRICALMA skippered by Claudio Leon, accumulating a 3-5-3-8-3 tally for 14 pts net. Rounding out the top five for the J/105s were Miguel Perez’s RECLUTA in 4th place and Jose Manuel Ligarte’s SCIMITAR in 5th position. 

J/70 sailing off ChileThe seven-boat J/70 class saw a similar scenario play out like the J/105s.  In this case, it was Carlos Kuhlental’s CHUCRU that aced the first three races and took home a 1-1-1-6-2 record for a mere 5 pts net. However, behind them it was a real dogfight all week long between four boats- Marcos Fuentes’ COMAU, Javier Melero’s PEGASUS, Vernon Robert’s MORENITA and Carlos Vergara’s COLUMBIA- SENSEI.  At one point or another over the five races, each team held a podium position!  In the end, Fuentes’ COMAU closed with a 2-1 to secure the silver with a record of 3-6-5-2-1 for 11 pts net.  A bad last race dropped Melero’s PEGASUS to third place, winning a tie-breaker, after posting a record of 2-7-3-1-6 for 12 pts net.  Losing that tie-breaker was Robert’s MORENITA with a 5-2-2-4-4 tally also sitting on 12 pts net.  Then, taking 5th place only one point back was Vergara’s COLUMBIA-SENSEI with a very steady record of 4-3-4-3-3 for 13 pts net.

J/24 sailing off ChileThe J/24 class had a great turn-out with a total of eight teams from across the Andes Mountains and coastlines.  Dominating the proceedings was the Chilean Naval Academy’s QUIQUE with a record of four 1sts and a 4th for a 4 pts net tally!  A distant second was yet another Chilean Naval Academy team on TRIUNFANTE with a 2-2-1-5-DNF for 10 pts net.  Third was another school team, the Grumetes College sailing MARISCAL to a 3-5-2-4-4 record for 13 pts net. 

Remarkably, no class or right-of-way protests were filed by anyone in the entire regatta.  After the racing was completed, all captains, crew, family and friends left the water and the support vessels and met inland at the neighbor city of Puerto Varas to celebrate the regatta and the winners.

Watch some nicely composed Facebook videos of the Chiloe Regatta here
Day 2-
Day 3-
Day 3-
Day 4-
Day 6-

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