Jaime Torres’ hot Beneteau First 40 Smile and Wave, that scored six top three finishes in nine regattas last year, will be back this Caribbean regatta season with brand new gear, deep crew talent and a determination to win.
Smile and Wave’s story, and watching it play out starting with the Caribbean 600 in February and finishing with Antigua Sailing Week in May, will be exciting to follow. It’s a David and Goliath story of the new kids up against the pros in a sport where talent and true grit can ultimately lead to spectacular podium finishes.
Smile and Wave’s main weaknesses last year was lack of accurate performance data. This year, the team boasts a new suite of Nexus Marine performance instruments paired with a wireless tablet that runs Expedition-brand race software. Developed by winning Whitbread navigator, Nick White, in collaboration with America’s Cup winning navigator, Peter Isler, Expedition is a powerful navigation and performance racing program
'This will not only enable us to perform more precise navigation and make better tactical decisions, but more importantly, it will provide target speeds and angles for vastly improved boat performance,' Torres explains.
That’s not all. Another trio of enhancements aboard Smile and Wave this season includes first, a new 3di heavy number one jib by North Sails along with a spinnaker staysail, for an unrated speed boosts on and off the wind. Secondly, a hull bottom finish to a high standard should enable the team to gain critical seconds per mile while racing. Third, a new angled steering platform allows Torres to stand taller and more comfortably so that his driving performance, especially upwind, should be improved.
The heart and soul of the Smile and Wave team are owner/driver, Jaime Torres, and trimmer/crew chief, Carlos Hernandez. Both have been sailing since the mid-70s. Torres won the International Rolex Regatta at age 12 aboard his father’s Swan 44, Jibaro, while Hernandez has worked positions aboard a variety of vessels with the enthusiasm and energy of a teenager and the wit and wisdom of a wise man.
Returning for the second season is Club Nautico de San Juan's sailing program manager, Jose ‘Yoyo’ Berrios. He’s the technical guy and keeps the boat’s electronics in tip top shape. North Sails Fort Lauderdale lofts’ Anson Mulder and Florida’s Joe Goulet are returning too as Smile and Wave’s ‘pros’. These two have played instrumental roles in getting all crew shipshape and the boat equipped for winning. Javier Andrades returns to man the cockpit, while Raul de la Torres is back as mast man.
'We are also stoked to be able to sail with arguably one of the Caribbean elite sailors, Peter Kingsbury,' says Torres. 'Peter has spent the last 15 years of his life as a pro sailor and when he can get away to spend time on a local boat he is often with us.'
Tom Morgan, who sailed a few regattas with Smile and Wave last year, will fly in from Ohio to trim the main in three regattas, while Jorge Hernandez of Windward Rigging will offer rigging support.
New members of the Smile and Wave team include Mariano ‘Nano‘ Ruiz, whose forte is sail trim and who has years of experience in offshore racing, and Fernando Padro, who will work the bow and who is one of Puerto Rico's top pro-level offshore race sailors.
'We have five new race sailors in training,' says Torres. 'Gretchen Ortiz and Maritere Rovira are learning bow work. Both of these gals are strongly motivated women who have learned the ins and outs on the skinny end of the boat quickly. The other two are George Polish in the pit, who has had lots of sailing experience but little racing time, and Carlos Fuentes who had never stepped on a boat until he came to Smile and Wave, but whose big frame and analytic mind have quickly adjusted to the needs of sailboat racing.'
The youngest member of the Smile and Wave team is Rafael Ortiz, a graduate of Club Nautico de San Juan’s sailing program and now working the front of a real race boat.
Torres goals are simple. He wants Smile and Wave to emerge as the Caribbean's leading offshore sailing team and for the team to be known as one that is always in the running for a podium finish while showing a great attitude and friendly character.
'Smile and Wave is more than name to us,' says Torres, 'it’s an attitude of love for our sport and enjoyment in what we do.'
'Our efforts are made possible by companies that have put their faith and marketing dollars behind us,' says Torres. 'Banco Popular is a strong supporter of the sport in Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands, and has invested in us as a way to reach the sailing market in the Caribbean. Discovery Bay and Sebago have sponsored Smile and Wave from the beginning and they are back this year stronger than ever.'
Follow the team’s race to podium’s throughout the Caribbean this season by visiting their website
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Smile and Wave’s 2012 Caribbean Regatta Schedule:
Caribbean 600 - February 20 to February 24 - Antigua
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta - March 1 to March 4 - St. Maarten
St. Croix International Regatta – March 9 to March 11 - St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Puerto Rico Heineken International Regatta - March 16 to March 18 - Palmas del Mar, Puerto Rico
International Rolex Regatta - March 23 to March 25 - St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
BVI Spring Regatta - March 30 to April 1 – Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Voile de St. Barths - April 2 to April 7 - St. Barths, French West Indies
Antigua Sailing Week - April 29 to May 4 – Antigua