Raul Rios, from Puerto Rico, US Junior and Senior Champion and WH&O Champion. The present and the future of the Class.
(Photo courtesy of John Payne)
– 1) When and where did you start sailing? Which were your main victories in the Snipe and other classes?
I started sailing the summer of 2004, when I was 10 years old. That summer I joined a Sailing Program at Club Nautico de San Juan. Since then I have achieved to obtain 4 IODA Titles including Optimist Worlds in 2008, one International 420 North American, two Snipe NA’s, two US Nationals, and now a WHO Title.
– 2) You sailed a lot in Miami. Now you are studying and living in Boston. Are you able to sail a lot with your college team? Which boats do you usually sail? How much do you sail Snipes this year?
At Boston College I get to sail every day except for Tuesdays. We sail collegiate 420’s and FJ’s. Although I am sailing a lot in college I can only sail the Snipe at regattas and some time in the winter.
– 3) Do you think it is an advantage college sailing for your Snipe regattas? Can you explain (expecially for the Europeans sailors) the differece between a college regatta and a Snipe regatta.
I believe sailing is sailing and because of college I can sail almost everyday. For me this might be an advantage compared to other people who don’t sail as often. College regattas are a lot shorter than Snipe Regatta and usually are sailed in lakes or rivers. Because of this you need to be sharper about your decisions, especially when starting. The start is almost 80% of the race in college sailing when in the Snipe it is more of a 60% I would say.
– 4) In the last 2 years you won both the US Juniors and the US Senior Nationals. Did you expect to win those regattas?
Since I won North Americans in 2011 and then in 2012 I had the confidence that if I did not make many mistakes I could win US Nationals. I always go with the mentality to try and do my best and hopefully that comes out with the win. I never put too much pressure in myself because that can make me lose my focus.
– 5) How did you prepare and train for the Westerns? How did you find time for training and sailing in the Snipe?
With college my Snipe sailing is limited, but for Westerns I prepared myself by sailing the US Nationals and North Americans. Summer school took a lot of time during the summer and had almost no time to sail. With college sailing, I am sailing almost every weekend and racing as many as 18 races sometimes in one weekend. This mean I am working on my starts a lot more than many of the Snipe sailors.
– 6) You sailed the Nationals with Henry Dumke and the Westerns with Fernando Monllor. Is it difficult to change crew for a big regatta?
Sailing with good friends is part of having fun on the water. I usually sail with people I can trust and have the urge to perform as I do. Changing crews is something that happens a lot in college. Henry is usually a skipper at Boston College and sailing with him was an easy transition as he understood how to adapt to a technical boat, such as the Snipe. Regarding Fernando, we both have sailed together since we were little kids. We know each other pretty well and how we sail. Both Fernando and Henry understood the Snipe quickly and
– 7) Did you have a coach during the WH&O? Can you describe your regatta and how you managed the 5 days of sailing?
At WH&O our national coach, Pedro Luis Fernández, was coaching us. When we got to San Diego our first priority was qualifying for the Pan-American Games, our second was get top three. As the regatta went on and we saw ourselves in a position to win the objective was to win. We treated each day as if it was the first, go out there and be consistent. This was part of our success, but having the mentality of separating our game plan by each leg helped us keep our focus.
– 8) Can you describe your equipment (boat, mast, sails) the you used in San Diego? Secret numbers?
I used the new DB-R1 boat with the Italian Olympics (CRC/AR2-F) . I don’t really have any secret numbers (I use the tuning guide numbers). Since I started sailing the Snipe I have tried to keep things simple and focus on sailing the boat well instead of worrying too much about every detail.
– 9) Which was the most important factor for the victory of the Westerns?
The most important factor to our victory was enjoying the racing. When you are having fun everything is easier. I sometimes joke around with my crews and we start to sing or remember stories about other sailing events. This all contributed to having a positive attitude in the boat. When something went wrong we would consider it as part of our learning process instead of beating ourselves with negative vibes.
– 10) Your programs for the future?
Next for me is to compete and win the Central and Caribbean Games this November at Veracruz, MEX. After that I plan on sailing a couple of Snipe Regattas including Don Q, Miami Snipe Invite and then prepare myself for the Pan-American Games and College Nationals.
Photo credit: 1-7 SCIRA USA; 3-4-5-6-11 John Payne; 8 Rob Migliaccio