Alex Soto wins the Puerto Rico Heineken Kiteboarding challenge

Alex took first, 16 year-old Robinson Hilario, second and Freddy Zamora took third.

After a last minute VISA approval, and F-One Kiteboarding Americas sent Team Riders Alex Soto and Robinson Hilario to Puerto Rico just in time to catch the first kiteboarding heat of the 6th annual Puerto Rico Heineken International Regatta. The Freestyle and Big Air competitions were held at the Palmas Del Mar Yacht Club near Humacao on the south east coast of Puerto Rico. The event marked the first time the Puerto Rican Sailing Federation, a member of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), included a Kiteboarding Class at a major regatta. Officially called the Heineken Kiteboarding Challenge, the event was organized by Pedro Rodriguez of under the rules and guidelines of the IKA and PKRA.

“Now that the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) has recognized kiteboarding as an official International Class Association, we wanted to be the first major regatta in the Caribbean to offer a kiteboarding class as well as our traditional dinghy event and yacht racing classes,” said regatta director, Angel Ayala. “We succeed beyond our expectations by having 30 kiteboarders register and welcoming the participation of two professional freestyle riders from the Dominican Republic, Alex Soto and Robinson Hilario.”

The event kicked off on Friday, March 18th in 13 knots of south east side shore wind at beautiful Candelero Beach. The first day of competition was capped with a Grey Goose VIP party at the new marina building. No heats were held on Saturday due to a light 8 knot wind, but that was enough for competitors to have some fun on a 15m Bandit 3 with 39m lines (!) and a 6’8” Ches Custom Course racing board.

The wind returned on Sunday, although from the opposite direction, with Alex Soto (Cabarete, DR), Robinson Hilario (Cabarete, DR), Paulo Dias (Puerto Rico) and Puerto Rican local F-One rider Freddy Zamora competing in the final heat. After a blistering series of freestyle moves, Alex Soto took first, 16 year-old Robinson Hilario took second and Freddy Zamora took third. Finally, to cap off an incredible event, the riders downwinded to the Palmas Del Mar Yacht Club where they put on a kiteboarding exhibition to the pleasant surprise of the hundreds of sailing enthusiasts gathered for the regatta.

After winning, Alex Soto said “I love Puerto Rico! It feels great to be traveling and competing internationally again and I finally got to compete in the US. It was really cool and funny to watch Robinson go on his first trip and compete. I’m really excited to start the 2010 season with my new sponsors F-One, Cosmic Kites and Airbound Apparel. Also, gracias por todo to my man Jose Cassenova who organized the whole event and treated our team like royalty, shuttling us around the event, stocking our fridge and giving us VIP passes to all the nightlife. But now I’m just really looking forward to staying focused and kicking off my PKRA in France next month.”