a-women-sailor-puerto-vallarta

Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Winter/Spring 2009 issue.

Fifteen years ago, Laura Mestre de Legorreta decided to form a women’s sailing team to take advantage of her son’s boats, which had been sitting unused for two years. Thus was born the Dreadnought team, named in honor of the British Royal Navy ship that revolutionized the design of battleships during the first decade of the 20th century. Among their ranks was a group of Laura’s friends who had to learn to sail with absolutely no prior experience, not even familiar with the names of the various parts of the Capri 37 they would be trying to manage.

It wasn’t easy in the beginning. For five years, Pepe González was in charge of their training, until the arrival of water sports enthusiast Carla Moreno. Moreno added a new dimension to the group, seeking new members with a more adventurous bent. Little by little, they became more adept and competitive, and soon founder Laura Mestre de Legorreta began to enjoy the excitement and adrenaline of taking first place in assorted competitions.

Today, Alejandra Wulff, Ana Arevalo, Ariadna Velázquez, Carla Moreno, Ileana Flores, Laura Barajas, Laura Mestre de Legorreta, Laura Robles, Marcela Flores, María Jose Rodriguez, Nora Covarrubias, Olivia Reyes, Paloma Mestre, Vanessa Manzano and Vicky Acosta make up the only all-female sailing team in Mexico, proudly based in Puerto Vallarta. They are a committed and cohesive group, eager to get on board and compete with the greats in this sport. The team has been able to maintain a healthy, open atmosphere by always speaking honestly and clarifying any misunderstandings that might arise, as well as having well-established rules for choosing who will participate in the competitions.

Representing Puerto Vallarta and Mexico

The members of Dreadnought race in a class called One Design, which means all the boats are the same, so experience and skill make the difference in winning. Whereas a male sailing team is composed of seven to 10 members, it takes 13 or 14 Dreadnought members onboard to stabilize the boat. They practice every Thursday afternoon at 3:30 in Marina Vallarta, working to perfect launching, tacking, trimming the sails and controlling speed. Equally important is finding sponsors, who make it possible to attend the large regattas, and Centro Marino Opequimar has been one of their strongest supporters.

Their consistent practice has earned them top placement in various competitions, such as the all-female regatta in Long Beach, California, where they won fourth place in several races eight years ago. They also have participated in Copa Mexorc, the Mexican circuit of oceanic races, alongside renowned sailors. In the Banderas Bay regatta sponsored by the Federación Mexicana de Vela, they also took good positions. And they even participated in the J24 world sailing championship, which included sailing a type of boat they were unfamiliar with, just for the experience. For large competitions, they rely on the tactics of recognized sailors, including one of the best in Mexico, Tania Elias Calles, who represented the country in past Olympics, as well as the outstanding Elian Fierro.

Sailing Into the Future

One team goal is to compete with some of the best sailing teams in the world in the Pan American Games to be held in Jalisco in 2011, but their ultimate dream is to attend the Copa del Rey in Palma de Mallorca, one of the grandest regattas in the Mediterranean and one of the most important events on the world’s sailing calendar.

In the meantime, they will continue training on beautiful Banderas Bay, which Carla Moreno believes is one of the most enjoyable to sail because of its conditions and natural boundaries. “It is incredible that we are the only boat enjoying the sea from three to six in the afternoon; hopefully, there will be more nautical culture here,” Moreno notes. Dreadnought is always open to new members who want to enjoy the sport. For more information, email morenocarla@hotmail.com or call 044 (322) 135-1694.