The Bocas del Toro archipelago of the Caribbean Panama is best known for its beautiful cruising grounds and surfing spots, but not so much as a racing venue.
That may be changing.
Boca’s first-ever sailing regatta, held on February 5, grew from an idea into a 30-boat pursuit race in just over a month’s time. In addition to having a lot of fun, race participants raised over $1,300 for Give and Surf Non-Profit, a charity serving the archipelago’s indigenous communities.
Two Northern California boats won big on a sunny, breezy race day. The San Francisco-based Beneteau 42s7 Cirque, captained by owner (and occasional Latitude contributing photographer) Louis Kruk, bested an international crowd of 18 other monohulls to take first place in its division. The Bodega Bay-based Fountaine Pajot Belize 43 Halcyon, sailed by owners Sandy and Brit Horn, took second in the 11-boat multihull division.
The course sent participants twice around a five-mile triangle, and the staggered start was based on PHRF ratings. Other winners were part of the archipelago’s internationally diverse sailing community. Second and third in the monohull division were the Allegro 30 Baltic Lady captained by Guillem Ros Millan from Barcelona, and the C&C 40-2 AC Tiger, captained by Maikel Galindo. First place in the multihull division was the 39-foot trimaran Unknown Pleasures, while third place was captured by a hurricane-rescue Lagoon 450 Parlay, captained by New Zealander Colin MacRae. Colin was one of the primary organizers of the regatta, and readers can follow Parlay’s evolution from insurance claim to race winner on their YouTube channel, Parlay Revival.
Four other West Coast boats participated in the regatta. The Tacoma-based Hanse 400e Black Elise II, owned by Dana Bachellerie and Chris Davis, and the Long Beach-based Catalina 36 Dharma Ocean, owned by George Rigsby, both had elapsed times within 10 minutes of the third-place monohull. The San Francisco-based Sailcraft 36 Abracadabra, owned by Bryce Andrews and Molly Arnold (the author of this piece), didn’t do quite as well, but they reported having lots of fun. The Carlsbad-based Fountaine Pajot Venezia 42 Bella Luna, owned by Paul Wisniewski, volunteered as startline marshall. The other much-appreciated marshalls were Bocas-area locals Mike and Kay Heath and Roger and Marylin Marshall.
A final “last but not least” nod to Bay Area participation goes to Ray Jason, Singlehanded TransPac sailor, Latitude 38 contributor and San Francisco street juggler, who is currently cruising the archipelago on his Goldlen Gate 30 Aventura. Ray was master of ceremonies at the often-raucous post-race awards event held at the Calypso Cantina at the Bocas del Toro Marina. Ray managed to keep everyone focused and entertained until the last awards were given.
Northern California was well represented at the first-ever Bocas del Toro Regatta, and anyone cruising the Western Caribbean next year should check to see when the second annual Bocas del Toro regatta is scheduled. You won’t find a better time, a friendlier group or a better cause.