The La Ventana Classic ended its race week with a 5.5 downwind race from the Hot Springs to Baja Joe’s. Overall rankings were announced at the end of the day with Bonnie Fromm, Terri Plunkett and Dianna Steven taking first, second and third respectively for the Wahine class. While by no surprise, Anthony Vela, who has dominated all of the week’s SUP races, took first followed by Jeremy Vaine and MacRae Wylde.
Better than trophies, Terri and Bonnie met while inadvertantly crashing into each other at crazy, gnarly buoy turns in Race #1 – the course race – and being gracious about it all. They easily connected and became fast friends. Terri shares, “Race # 1 sucked. The course race was insane for me because paddling upwind on an inflatable is so hard. My inflatable ULI board was incredible in the down wind events, it really took off in the wind! The best part of the course race is that it was when I met Bonnie Fromm. Good PEOPLE that Bonnie Girl and she is strong and fast!!”
Bonnie set the stage for our story, “Terri and I competed in 4 out of 5 events: a course race, a 4 mile downwind, La Cruces 10mile, and El Norte 5 mile downwind. We both skipped the island crossing as it was 11 miles of cross chop and would have made the final races too much. The final El Norte was my favorite as the wind was great and the waves coming into Baja Joe’s were a hoot.”
The Downwinder Sprint is an 8 mile coastal Downwinder sprint from Rancho Las Cruces- paddlers race downwind breaking free in the La Ventana swells with the wind at their back. It was the most challenging race of the event. It was meant to be a down winder but the waves and wind both were on shore with wave reflection from the cliffs. Bonnie gives us some insight, “We had the rare opportunity to start our downwind paddle race from Las Cruces, the private playground for Bing Crosby and the Ratpack! It was eight miles of pristine coastline in wild waves that challenged every balance muscle! Incredible experience with Awesome people! We paddled cross wind through huge washing machine waves for about 7 miles before rounding Puento Gordo and turning downwind. It was BEAUTIFUL but some of the most difficult water I have ever been on. I was thrilled to remain standing and dry with only a few tumbles to my tush.”
Terri told us that the drive to the start of the La Cruces race took 2 1/2 hours through dirt roads across a countryside that was surreal and spectacular. A key was needed to get in to the gate, a private access to the start. The start was in the middle of no where – and once the horn sounded the racers were split apart by wind and waves. Terri explained, “I felt very alone. Back on shore no one remained after the start. I paddled past incredible, pristine beaches but it was also a bit eerie, no buildings or support.
I was connected to my board, the only means of support, by a thin leg leash. Once we passed Puento Gordo the experience could not have been better. Las Cruces. Baja Mexico. 10.5miles of paddling along this magical pristine coast line with winds blowing us furiously toward the finish line. What a rare and amazing experience. Another gift paddling a SUP has given me. Along with a new friend.”
On Facebook, Anthony Vela posted, “This was the start of the Tres Cruces Downwind race in La Ventana. Such a beautiful place to see, thank you to everyone at the La Ventana Classicwho helped with the many logistics to make moments like these possible. Over 50 miles of paddling last week
After the awards were announced, Tim took the mic to announce the final sum that was raised in support of the local school kids. All money, beyond costs of running the event, will go directly to the Amigos de Alumnos group, to contribute to high school scholarships and help local students in La Ventana/El Sargento continue their education. The grand total of $12,666 dollars will allow 42 kids to continue high school!
Although the cost to attend high school is only $300 US annually per student, this cost is a roadblock for some Mexican families and stops many bright and motivated young people from attending high school.
Terri couldn’t say enough about winner of the Classic, Anthony Vela. Back in CA, Anthony leads Performance Paddling (Dana Point, CA), for adult racers. Terri tells us, “The drills that we practice with Performance Paddling I used in every event, particularly the 11-mile side wind island crossing. ‘Bracing,’ ‘One sided paddling,’ ‘Step back & brace,’ ‘Lean turning,’ ‘Stop back brace and stall’ and the ‘Quick change drill.’ So many things we practice every day are applied to open ocean paddling.”
Bonnie had been in Baja for 4 weeks and had done numerous down wind paddles. She trains by doing, trying to paddle a few times a week throughout the year. She’s stoked by the performance of her Amundson 12’6″ TR-X, “my saving grace in the wild seas.”
Cross training is part of Bonnie’s program, “I’m off to the Northwest to ski and hope to enter my first skate ski race! Paddlewise I will probably not compete again until The Rose City Races (Portland).
Big thanks to all the sponsors and volunteers at the event— without them it would not have been possible! The mayors of local towns, Los Planes and El Sargento, were both in attendance and were incredibly thankful for everybody’s support.
Some history ……… Las Cruces, Baja MX – Rancho Las Cruces The exclusive property of Las Cruces is located approximately 30 road miles south east of La Paz, capital of the State of Baja California Sur, Mexico Rancho Las Cruces Baja Resort The start of the 11mile downwinder Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador, was told about a great Island filled with gold and pearls of wonderful size and color. Determined to find the source of such impressive riches and to claim the fabled island of pearls for the Spanish crown Cortés sent various expeditions. On one of these Cortés himself set forth and landed on May 3rd, 1535 on what was thought to be an island. In commemoration of his landing he placed three crosses on the land he baptized as Santa Cruz. Stone replicas of these crosses still remain in the site where Rancho Las Cruces now stands. Part of the land known as Santa Cruz by the early Explorers would later be named Las Cruces. Although he found no gold, Cortés did find pearls of astonishing beauty.
Abelardo L. Rodriguez Montijo & Lucille Bremer Down the centuries the shores of Las Cruces and the islands of Cerralvoand Espirito Santo were renowned for their fabulous pearls but a decline in the pearl oyster started as early as 1900 and by 1929 the pearl industry of Baja belonged to the past. Standing where Cortés once stood more than 400 years earlier, Abelardo L. Rodriguez Montijo watched the rising sun cast its array of magnificent color on the tranquil sea. He saw the remains of thatched huts, water wells and aqueducts that once irrigated beautiful tropical orchards and native palms. He realized then, that although depleted of pearls, Las Cruces could still provide treasure. He believed that the enchantment of ten thousand acres with more than five miles of private sea coast would be gratifying to those who must face maddening crowds and churn through congested traffic. In 1948 he and his beautiful bride, Lucille Bremer decided to turn Las Cruces into a small luxury resort.