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La Manzanilla Memo - March 3, 2012

Wind in their sails

The cravings of La Manzanilla sailing aficianados were sated last week with two lively regattas launched off our beach in Tenacatita Bay.

Almost a dozen craft, ranging in size from a laser (roughly the size of a stand-up paddle board) to a 53-foot cruising yacht, competed in the Vallarta Yacht Club’s second annual Regatta La Manzanilla on February 25.  Smaller boats raced to Tenacatita, while the ones over 25-feet had to continue across to Tamarindo before returning to the finish line, near Fiesta Mexicana restaurant.  Despite the “fickle” wind, everyone was back on shore within three hours.

A handful of La Manzanilla sailors participated, and two of them won their respective classes.   Joe Hostetler and Grant Carrier, in their Cal 21, had the fastest race time with 1:00:03.  Richard Rasmussen and his laser were back in just over an hour and a half, besting his closest competition by 15 minutes.  The also-saileds said they were just doing a shake-down run to prepare for the upcoming La Manzanilla Cup race.

Thrills and (almost) spills

After one earlier postponement for want of wind, the La Manzanilla Cup sailboat race finally got the starting flag onWednesday, February 29.  Of the five boats entered in this year’s regatta, the colorful sail of Lew Liebowitz’s Hobie Cat was the first to emerge from the haze that eventually obscured all the craft from sight as they crossed the mouth of the bay from Tenacatita to El Tamarindo.

Well ahead of the competition, Lew “dingleberried” (the fans on the race deck assured me that’s a real nautical term) back and forth near the finish line until the next boat came into view, then rocketed across to win the race in an hour and 19 minutes.  The also-saileds were: Joe Hostetler and Grant Carrier at 1:24, Richard Rasmussen at 1:28, despite shipping water, and Tom Oberg and Oso Amarillo at 1:50.  David Rutherford on his Sunfish was declared DNF (did not finish) because he came in before completing the course.

Several dramatic moments at the end of the race riveted everyone’s attention as one of the boats accidentally went aground on the beach, possibly due to a spinnaker malfunction that drove it sideways in the wind.  Onlookers rushed into the surf to help right the boat, perilously close to tipping over, and a panga towed it to deeper water so it could sail back to its anchorage at the south side of the bay.

My deadline did not permit me to stay for the award presentation.  The original La Manzanilla Cup, an artfully decorated tin can mounted on wood, was replaced this year by a shiny plastic, engraved sailboat trophy.  Just in time, too, because the old one has almost disintegrated with rust.  There’s talk of renaming that the “Rusty Shackle” award, to be presented to the boat that screws up the worst.  As to whom that is this year, my lips are sealed.

Dolphins and Tigers

America’s favorite pastime has come to La Manzanilla via a handful of Canadians and a Puerto Rican.  And it’s a big hit with the kids who play.  What started last October with one resident expat, three neighborhood kids, a couple of mitts, a few balls and a beat-up old bat has grown to two junior baseball teams, the Dolphins and the Tigers.  They expect to form a third team soon.

Patti Wagner got the ball rolling, so to speak.  “After the first week with just the four of us playing around on the soccer field, 12 kids showed up,” she said.  “Now we’re up to about 30 kids, girls as well as boys aged eight to 15, and more come to check it out every week.”

Meanwhile, Vicki Matthew and Robin Pierson, winter residents from British Columbia and avid baseball fans, were soliciting donations of jerseys, hats, and equipment from their local teams and service clubs to bring down.  They thought baseball might be a sport, other than soccer, that Mexican kids would enjoy.

Through those mysterious twists of fate that make things work out for the best, the three were able to coordinate their efforts.  The balls and bats arrived, plus enough jerseys to outfit three teams.  They´ve replaced the bricks they had been using with real base bags.  Every player has a hat and glove, and the coaches are working on getting them all properly shod to play.

Coaching staff includes Patti, Vicki, Robin, Scottie Turner, and John Snihur, all from Canada, and Restaurant Guacamole’s Andy Acosta Rodriguez, who once played in the Puerto Rican baseball league.  “We’re lucky to have Andy on board,” the other coaches agree.  “He’s the only one whose Spanish is good.”

The Dolphins and Tigers play each Friday around 4:30 p.m. on the soccer field, alternating two weeks of games with one week of practice.  Everything is provided, so no one has to pay to play.  The season will end in June and restart in October.

Stop by some Friday and watch.  The teams’ enthusiasm and excitement for the game are infectious, and the players show a remarkable sense of sportsmanship and teamwork.  Their pride in what they’re accomplishing is palpable.  This is what kids’ baseball used to be like when we were that age.

Unique Boutique

La Manzanilla has at least a dozen stores, not to mention the Friday tianguis, that sell clothing, ranging from inexpensive beachwear to pricier trendy chic.  But none offers the unique selection currently available at our newest shopping option, Boutique Quetzal.

Bonnie Griffith, of Boston and San Miguel de Allende, has set up shop on Maria Asuncion under the old El Quetzal restaurant (thus the name), in the space previously occupied by a liquor and wine emporium.  She refers to her collection as “collage clothing,” because she creates each piece from a variety of different fabrics and designs.  The result is eye-catching, sometimes whimsical, and definitely one of a kind.

Bonnie personally makes just about everything she sells.  In addition to the clothing are her “Figuras Femininas” sculptures of the human female form, based on her experience after so many years of designing women’s clothing.  Her mini-sculpture jewelry is also fetching. Boutique Quetzal is only open Wednesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., but if the door is open it’s worth a look inside.


I was doubly motivated to attend Stephanie Wunner’s premiere art exhibit, Vivir!,  last Sunday night at Café de Flores:  Stephanie is my friend, and Flores’ hors d’oeuvres are always to die for.  Neither disappointed.

The opening was packed with well wishers.  Stephanie says Vivir! (to live) is an affirmation of life that grew from the grief of watching a dear friend die.  “The show represents things we see every day presented in a different perspective.”  It will be available at Café de Flores Monday through Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. until further notice.

Duplicate Bridge

The only thing I know about bridge is that I don’t like to cross one when I come to it (gephyrophobia).  However, director Ron Stock has reminded me to invite pairs of contract bridge players to the games held Mondays and Wednesdays at 1 p.m. at Martin’s restaurant.  They play by ACBL rules.

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