Cayuco season has officially begun

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Over 300 highly competitive athletes lined up for the start on Saturday, December 13 at the Club de Yates y Pesca marina on the Cinta Costera for the first qualifying race of the 2015 Ocean-to-Ocean Cayuco Race. The race started and ended in front of the Balboa Monument at the Cinta Costera.

Seventy-six boats competed. “The winners placed first to third across six categories,” said Rosario Valero, public relations specialist for the event. The next qualifying race will be Saturday, January 17 along the Amador Causeway.

Teams gave their all at the first qualifying round of the Ocean to Ocean Cayuco Race.

Teams gave their all at the first qualifying round of the Ocean to Ocean Cayuco Race.

Cayucos convey the folklore and beauty of craftsmanship handed down by generations of watermen whose livelihood depended upon, and sometimes still depends upon, this traditional boat design that began as a hollowed-out canoe. Cayuco racing is revered in Panama. Teams that qualify to compete in the annual ocean-to-ocean race win respect from the community in recognition of their stringent training and mental focus.

“The team positions in a cayuco are: Pacer, Power, Bailer and Steer,” explained Valero. When all weather conditions are favorable, the outcome is determined by the strategy and mental toughness of the skilled racers who train vigorously until, as a team, they become one fine-tuned paddling machine.

For this first race, they had a beautiful day with calm water. The race started and ended at the marina. It was a 4.4-mile race along the shore of the Cinta Costera waterway within sight of thousands of spectators entertained by the grace and skill of the paddlers.

This race was about strategy: positioning the boat for the fastest and tightest turns around the five buoys that defined the two laps. On the approach to the first buoy, other boats crowded the crew of Mischief. “We realized we didn’t have the velocity to make a tight turn so to avoid hitting the other boats we turned behind some boats and overtook them on the outside of the turn to gain the lead,” said crew member, Dominique Claus.

“Godspeed” wins first place in Male Open Category. From left to right: Harry Aswani, Alberto Hernández, Jose Feliú and Juan Garcia.

“Godspeed” wins first place in Male Open Category. From left to right: Harry Aswani, Alberto Hernández, Jose Feliú and Juan Garcia.

Turned out it was a good strategy as Mischief maintained the lead throughout the race to take first place in the Youth Category. Congratulations to the Mischief crew: Dominique Claus, Silvia Waterman, Estefania Jimenez and Hanna Pons

The fight for first place in the Male Open Category was “neck-n-neck”; Godspeed vs. ONO in a dead heat. Mile after mile, spectators witnessed the struggle. Godspeed finished just seven seconds ahead of ONO to win the category. “ONO was right next to us throughout most of the race,” said Jose Feliú, crewmember of Godspeed. Now that is a great race.

Congratulations to the Godspeed crew Jose Feliú, Juan David Garcia, Harry Aswani and Alberto Hernández.

Congratulations to all the winners in each of the categories including the Chava Crew who made the best time in the male trophy class (youth) category with a time of 35.14 minutes, followed by Rapid Transit with a time of 36:45 minutes, and the crew of the Almost who placed first in the trophy mixed category with a time of 38:19 minutes.

The event’s official sponsor, Odebrecht, hosted a very impressive award ceremony after the event at the fountain on the avenue. Recognition is to be extended to the Club de Yates y Pesca, who allowed the use of their facilities as the staging area for the event.

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