A “stoked” Jaime Torres returns to Regatta

POSTED: 01/17/12 12:47 PM

Skipper Jaime Torres and his crew pilot Beneteau First 40.7 Smile and Wave in a handout photo from the St. Maarten Yacht Club. 

St. Maarten – Jaime Torres, the skipper of the Beneteau First 40.7 Smile and Wave, will be one of the more passionate sailors on the start line of the 32nd edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, which is now less than two months away. Torres and his Smile and Wave crew sailed their first Heineken event last year, finishing fifth in the ultra-competitive Class 5 division and having led the pack of five Beneteau First 40s in that 15-boat fleet. The team notched up a half dozen top three finishers in nine regattas throughout the islands last year and are scheduled to compete in them again this year. The fact that Torres was able to buy his boat is considered proof he and his team had an impressive season.
When he lines with all the other sailors Torres will also be leading his team into his favorite regional tournament.

“I tell my crew that if we could only do one regatta, it would be the Gill Commodores Cup (the one-day series on March 1st that kicks off the 3-day St. Maarten Heineken Regatta) and the Heineken. It has the perfect mix of challenging courses—windward/leewards and point-to-point races. There are so many good sailors, and you’re surrounded by guys who’ve sailed in the America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race, who’ve dedicated their lives to the sport. That’s a rare and wonderful gift. The race committee is first-class and the parties are out of the park. All the elements are there,” Torres said.

The venue is not the only thing that makes the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta a winner for Torres.
“What’s unique about the event is that you’re not just welcomed by the race organizers, you’re welcomed by the whole island. The people and businesses on the island are very friendly and make you feel special from the minute you arrive at the airport or pass through the bridge to Simpson Bay,” the sailor said.
The Smile and Wave crew will open their competition tour with the “offshore” Caribbean 600 – a distance race that starts and ends in Antigua beginning on February 12. The race is different from the inshore racing that takes place during the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, but Torres still recommends it as a warm-up event.
“It will be a big challenge for us but it will also help us get ready for the Heineken Regatta. The pace is different, but the two events complement each other. When it blows 35-knots in St. Maarten, we will be very well prepared,” Torres said.

Smile and Wave’s 2011 record could serve as inspiration for other fledgling racers looking to break into top-flight Caribbean racing. Though Torres was a lifelong sailor and Heineken veteran—he’d raced aboard the famous Caribbean maxi Titan several years ago—other than his right-hand man and crew chief, Carlos Hernandez, many in his crew were not experienced racers…or even sailors.
“We had a steep learning curve. There was a lot of on-the-job training,” Torres said.
This year, his crew—key personnel include fellow Puerto Rican sailors Jose “Yoyo” Berrios, Javier Andrades and Raul de la Torres; Caribbean ace Peter Kingsbury; and pro sailors Anson Mulder and Joe Goulet, among others—are hungry and committed. It’s just about time to go racing.
“Right now I’m stoked,” said Torres.

For full information on the 2012 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, including entry information, the Notice of Race, photos, videos, party and band information, and much, much more, visit www.heinekenregatta.com.

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