Alonso Collantes of Peru Wins the 2016 Sunfish World Championship in Cartagena, Colombia
Posted November 28, 2016
by Vicki Palmer
In a fleet of 63 competitors from 17 different countries, Alonso Collantes of Peru came out on top despite some challenging conditions. At least these conditions were challenging to most who were not used to sailing in 10-15 foot swells. But according to Alonso, “These same conditions are in Lima.” During the summer months, Alonso sails about four times every week. In the winter, he sails every weekend. Doing what he knew he had to do to beat some of these Sunfish world class sailors was his not-so-secret to success. Time-on-the-water and practice, practice, practice. Amazing how that formula seems to work most of the time. And what a nice young man Alonso was to take the time after one race day to explain how he trims in or out when going up or down the swells to get maximum speed and distance.
The South American sailors dominated the competition – 2nd, Edgar Diminich/ECU ; 3rd, David Mendelblatt/USA; 4th, Caterina Romero/PER; 5th, Jose Daniel Hernandez/GUA; 6th, John Birkett/ECU ; 7th, Jonathan Martinetti/ECU; 8th, Jean Paul Trazegnies/PER; 9th, Eduardo Cordero/USA and 10th, Jesus Bailon/ECU. The Top Female champion was Caterina Romero of Peru whose sailing prowess gets her closer and closer to possibly making her the first woman to win the Sunfish World Championship someday. A total of seven women competed in this event. Ages of the competitors ranged from 16-72.
What most of these champion sailors experienced in Cartagena was very different from anything they’ve ever sailed in before. Lighter air (6-12) wasn’t so different; chop coming in from many directions was a bit different and the two days of 10-15 foot swells were very different and proved to be quite a challenge. Two Sunfish boats limped back to shore when rogue swells caused their spars to break and the boats to turtle. Thankfully no one was hurt. And now everyone has a new respect for what these challenging but seemingly innocent swells can do. Beware: huge swells can be dangerous; huge swells can also cause
seasickness to those who have never experienced seasickness before. So during Day 4’s breakfast at the hotel on the 14th floor, cheers could be heard when everyone could see the huge breakers crashing against the shore were gone. But what came instead was a little heavier air, 8-10, which was cause for celebration until the last race when the air lightened up a bit. But there were few complaints because at least the swells were gone.
PRO Francisco Castillo of Bogota, Colombia, and his excellent team of Race Committee handled all wind direction changes without a glitch. And there were many. Storm clouds would pass by and almost immediately not only the wind velocity changed but also the direction. Local knowledge on the PRO boat was also a huge help.
Being in Cartagena was a first-time experience for many sailors. So seeing the city and visiting some of the favorite tourist spots on the lay day was the perfect way to brea
k up the intensive racing. Three races per day for five days is a lot of racing! So the lay day was much appreciated. Many toured the Old City, the islands, the aquarium, the castle, shopped for souvenirs or relaxed with a massage and a day by the hotel pool. But there were some who took advantage of emerald shopping since Colombia is noted for its beautiful emeralds.
Next year’s Sunfish Youth and World Championships will be held at the Brant Beach Yacht Club in Brant Beach, NJ, in late August. So the world venue has moved back to the USA for 2017 and also 2018 when they will be held at the Carolina Yacht Club in Wilmington, NC. The 2019 Sunfish Worlds will be in Bonaire, and the 2020 Worlds are scheduled for Martinique. Future champions, remember: time-on-the-water and practice, practice, practice. We’re welcoming you to any or all of our Sunfish events!