Ponce, Puerto Rico Downwind Race.
Cheers. Laughter. And a mix of spanish and english dialogue. Overpower the sounds of the chugging diesel boat engine. As we set off from El Nautico.
Gazing back towards the beach. Paddlers from the water. And people beachside wave and cheer. The tents and flags revealing something beyond the ordinary on the sandy, palm tree lined beach.
Today is race day. The Escape from Coffin Island.
This past fall Hurricane Maria put a heavy strain on the people of Puerto Rico. Many without power and drinking water for months. And some still in this scenario.
Even amongst the blue roofs scattered throughout, the communities are rallying. Strong. Proud and resilient. Many are back to the life they had before the hurricane. And using family, activities and gatherings as their way to show their strength.
The community that hosts the Escape from Coffin Island race is an example of this. Every person who arrives at the beach have a story. Of how they’ve had to change life and overcome Mother Nature’s nasty obstacles.
But they responded and now. Stand on the beach. Paddle in hand.
A Unique Downwinder.
Traveling to races is always an experience. Whether loading boards on the roof and driving 30 minutes down the road. Or flying to a new destination. But typically when we arrive. The events in their unique location begin to resemble the events that we have been to before.
But this one has something different.
In years past all participants who entered the 9 mile downwinder, would load up onto a boat. And set out on a 40 minute ride to Caja de Muertos.
This year, due to the damages of Hurricane Maria. The race coordinators had a hurdle to overcome. The ferry which was our ride. Sunk. Almost delivering a catastrophic blow to the event.
But like the people of Puerto Rico continuously do. They overcame the set back and provided a solution that rivaled the previous boat ride out to the island.
Over ten boats, all members of the Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club. Came on board to escort us out and back. The ride out felt more like a boat ride with good friends than traveling to the start of a race. We shared stories. Laughed. Took photos and before we knew it. We arrived.
A Fun, Family Friendly Event.
While we were two miles off shore and 9 miles away from the club. The open race was happening just off the shores of the club. A fun, friendly course where the kids and flatwater paddlers had just as fun of an experience. As those of us who took the boat offshore. Providing an experience where everyone left with a smile on their face.
But the fun didn’t stop. Delicious local food was served. A DJ and band provided music for the afternoon. As we hung out by the waters edge. Catching up with friends from across the island.
Puerto Rico Hospitality.
Over the past three weeks I’ve visited the island. Took part in two races, paddled with Lexus SUP Team and did a downwind run. A lot. But one thing that keeps me coming back. And smiling after the trip.
The hospitality. It reminds me of Thanksgiving Dinner. Everyone gathers. Is grateful. Thankful. And no one is left out. This is why I book a trip to Puerto Rico. Anytime I can.
2019 Escape from Coffin Island.
Even with the event just a few days in the books. The team is working hard to make it better for next year. And I’m confident it will be.
Stay tuned for more details. And if you have any questions on visiting PR. Please send me a message as this community loves visitors and I promise, you won’t be disappointed.