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Scuttlebutt News:
I Have Seen the Future, and it’s Wonderful!

(February 13, 2007) The Curmudgeon is a lucky guy. During the past 60 years I’ve had a chance to race in major events on both coasts of the United States; in the North and in the South, on the Great Lakes and even on a number of the inland lakes. I’ve also raced in some huge regattas in the Mediterranean, on the Solent and the Hauraki Gulf. And after 60 years, I’ve formed some pretty solid opinions about the ingredients that are necessary for a great event, and I suspect that my list is not much different from the preferences of Scuttlebutt readers.

- photo by Dave Dunigan -
Many sailors list parties first, and while I agree that it’s nice to have great regatta parties, it helps if the event provides something special for everyone to celebrate…something like good winds in addition to warm water and temperatures. With apologies to my friend Keith Musto, and to my sailing buddies in San Francisco, racing is just more fun without foul weather gear.

But it takes more than that. An event also needs a solid infrastructure before it can be properly categorized as ‘special.’ I’m talking about stuff like an experienced, energetic, and friendly race organizer with appropriate equipment and support boats to insure that the veteran race committee never runs out of options. And yes, there also must be an appropriate place to throw fun parties, plus have an abundance of nearby housing, restaurants, bars and liquor stores for ‘life’s little necessities.’

Well, I’ve just returned from a regatta that had all of the above and so much more. So where is this racing nirvana, you ask? It’s in a little known marina in the Caribbean that is brand new, totally underutilized, and completely ready for ‘prime time.’ It’s the Casa de Campo Marina in the Dominican Republic.

The Casa de Campo has been a premier golf and tennis resort for more than two decades, with four world-class golf courses, and a fifth one under construction. But a marina was never a part of the original development of this sprawling 7000-acre resort. That was probably a good thing, because that oversight provided the architect of this new marina with the luxury of starting with just a clean sheet of paper and a marshy lagoon. Fortunately, he also had incredible vision.

Aerial view of the marina
That architect was Italian Gianfranco Fini, and he was given total control over the design of the marina as well as the design and use of the structures surrounding the waterfront. There were absolutely no constraints to prevent Fini from achieving his personal objective of developing a harbor that inspired the same “magical feelings” he experienced when sailing into some of the exotic ports in the Greek islands. Fini did not waste this unique opportunity.

So now, Casa de Campo has a modern, new 400-berth marina, complete with a shipyard with a 120-ton TraveLift. And surrounding this harbor, Fini has skillfully designed and strategically placed the restaurants, shops, bars, and homes with a Caribbean flavor -- but a Mediterranean feel. There is even a central plaza that helps to captures the ‘magical’ feeling he was seeking. It’s an exotic gem that Fini hopes will one day be compared favorably to Portofino and Capri, and I’m certainly not betting against that happening.

The Casa de Campos Yacht Club was a key element in the design process. Situated in a prime on-the-water location, the building is unlike any yacht club I’ve ever visited. It was definitely not designed to hold meetings -- it was designed for the enjoyment of its members and visitors. Party time! But it is also equipped with WiFi, a plethora of inflatable tetrahedrons and shinny new RIBs for RC support. More importantly, however, it is alive with energy and raw enthusiasm.

But I’ve saved the best for last … and that would be the race course. The starting area is not much more than a ‘nine iron shot’ from the harbor entrance-- perhaps five minutes from the mooring area. And the Caribbean Sea provides absolutely fabulous trade wind racing conditions. There seemed to be whitecaps just about every afternoon, and just enough subtle wind-shifts to prevent tacticians from getting lethargic. With air temperatures in the mid 80s, and water temperatures only a few degrees lower, it simply does not get any better than this. And there are no bugs! I can’t think of a better recipe for ‘growing the sport.’

Regatta winner Pepe Rodríguez' and Celtic V
- photo by Dave Dunigan -
Last week’s Presidente Cup Regatta at the Casa de Campo Yacht Club attracted a couple of dozen PHRF racers – mostly local boats -- and I kept wondering why there wasn’t 100+ boats racing as would be found in other major Caribbean regattas? The answer is simple: the venue is new and the event is still below the radar. But that’s about to change. Scott MacLeod’s Force10 Marketing, which runs the World Match Race Tour, has just gotten involved with the event, and he and his experienced team will surely make this regatta into a ‘must do’ event in subsequent years. You’ll want to be there next February, and so do I. So if you’re looking for a tactician, with a year’s worth of local knowledge experience … we need to talk.

I genuinely feel like I’ve seen the future … and it is indeed wonderful. -- The Curmudgeon

Note: Presidente Cup Regatta video available at

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