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Hi Juan,

Many people know you from the website or from racing with or against you, but few know the other side of your activities; I hope you can share with us a little more about the story behind the brand and some of your best memories.

What emotions and experiences sailing brings to you?

Sailing is freedom. Due to today's tools, I have a hard time disconnecting from the business, even when I am out of reach, my head keeps thinking about how to make MAURIPRO better for our customers, but when I am the water, either racing or cruising, only one thought goes to my head: "How to improve my pointing ability, how to sail deeper angles, how I can keep the boat flat so my drink stay on the cup.", bottom line, all that I can think is "sailing."

Once the sails go up and boat heels, a new world presents in front of me

I truly appreciate being on the water; once the sails go up and boat heels, a new world presents in front of me, no more modern-day issues, just sailing, the breeze, the freedom, a complete mind emptiness, and full relaxation.

We know you also are an advocate for shark protection and a person who loves diving with sharks.Can you tell us, what do you think every time you dive? When you dive with sharks, what do you enjoy most?

I was fortunate to receive my scuba diving training when the SeaLab was going on in Key Largo. Watching divers and marine life activists working hard to promote conservation and the possibility to live underwater caught my attention. Since then, we have been supporting a couple of initiatives to protect the reefs and educate the general public about Shark conservation. I was not planning to dive with sharks; it just happened. One day while visiting the Abacos, a couple of sharks showed up. They stayed with us for several minutes; it was easy to appreciate their calm behavior, since that day, it has become our family signature vacation. After spending multiple times diving with sharks (no cages, no hand feeding, just observation), I can say that it produces a calm effect on me; I am the visitor. I know that some people would believe that some unnecessary risks are taken, but I learn from others to remain calm, reduce the stress of the situation, and observe these great creatures. Today, we are taking a step higher but supporting Stephanie Schuldt; she is probably one of the best shark freedivers in the world. I cannot be prouder of our relationship.

What do you think we need to know before diving with sharks for the first time?

You are jumping into their environment; they are not pets, they are powerful animals, and your relationship with them will depend on how you handle yourself.

I am opposed to the tourist show of hand-feeding, but all for going down into their world and observe. We kill millions of them most brutally; we need to figure out how to co-exist.

They are powerful animals, and your relationship with them will depend on how you handle yourself
Going back to sailing, can you give us a brief backstory of how you started racing or the classes that you have raced.

I started sailing in the summer of 1976. My first boat was an inflatable 4-person rowing boat. All the kids in my club owned Sunfish at that time, so to become part of the sailing group, I cut two broomsticks and build a mast (my mom grounded me for that), and my grandpa gave me his old Airforce parachute, which I cut to make my sail. The next day, I went into the beach, set my home-made mast, hoist my sail, and pushed the boat into the water. Little I knew about the need for a keel, so as soon as I trimmed my sail, the boat went sideways, not forward, and end up at the break wall; one of the rocks punched a hole on the boat, and that was the end of my first sailboat.

The good side of the story is that next Christmas, I got my own Sunfish, and I have been sailing non-stop since then.

As far as what classes or boats have been on? I started racing Sunfish, then went into the Windmill class, and after that J24's. It was around 1986 when I went on my first IOR Offshore regatta; after, we all went to race under the IMS formula. I never left the J24 but got the Matching Racing bug, which we did quite a success for several years.

During one of those trips, I meet Alejandro Yrigoyen from Argentina (we were matching in Brazil), and he offered me to become a Sales Rep for Sobstad; this was 1993, and that is how Mauri Pro Sailing got started. I was selling sails to afford the next regatta. Many memories come into my mind now, cannot pinpoint one specific; I think all the trips, the conversations after racing, the going together to bars, and the boat prep, all, make the story.

Is there an anecdote that you would like to share with us? (It can be about racing or any ocean activity)

If you want to know a specific story that comes to my mind, there are two:

One racing Lightings at Davis Island Yacht Club, we were going downwind, and my crew opened a couple of beers. It was the year 1,999, and I just moved to the USA; my accent was awful. As we were going downwind, I was encouraging the driver to "bear-away" on every wave, so with every wave, I will go "bear-away," later I found out that they heard "beer away," so either they were drinking it or hiding it from me. You can ask my buddy Nate Vilardebo; he was on the boat.

The other anecdote was coming back from Galapagos; it was 1989. The whole regatta was a race from Salinas in Ecuador to Galapagos, 3 inshore courses around the islands, and one race back to Ecuador. I got seasick on the way to Galapagos, and on the way back (4 days scheduled), we broke the main halyard sheave at the top of the mast; it took us 3 hours to fix it so we can put a reef on the mainsail. Large swells and mixed waves make a really unpleasant first day.

If you are interested in sailing, go sailing, have fun, enjoy it.

I got seasick again and never recovered. On my last watch, I went to sleep around 2 AM; I was able to see land, got excited thinking that we will be back on land, just a couple more hours of seasickness. I woke up at 6 am for my next watch; same image; land on the horizon, but it did not look much bigger, sail for 4 hours, straight East with not too much progress. Our speed was 8 knots, then dropped to 5 knots, and as my watch was ending breeze was getting lighter. I managed to sleep for a little bit. I started what I thought was my last watch of the regatta at 2 pm; by now, we cannot see land. Our speed was between 2 and 3 knots drifting.

All good until our navigator told us that our speed over ground (SOG) was almost 1 knot but moving West even though we were heading East. What a horrible experience to be seasick, knowing that you are not getting closer to land but going backwards.

If you like navigation and currents, going to and coming back from Galapagos, you have to deal with the Humboldt current heading to the Marquesas or el Nino current coming down the coast of Panama and sinking under the Humboldt one. It took us another 14 hours to get to land. To this day, I can recall the feeling. What shocks me is that just an hour after hitting land and after the first Rum and Coke, we were already making plans to race offshore out of the coast of Peru.

What would you recommend to people that are interested in racing or sailing?

If you are interested in sailing, go sailing, have fun, enjoy it.

If you are interested in racing, focus on making your boat fast, driving fast, improving your tacks, improving your starts, and building a no-excuses crew. Tactics will come later. Remember, the tactician's IQ goes up and down depending on how fast you're going around the racecourse.

Never lose sight; if you are racing, winning is the goal.

Are you involve in some other projects?

Yes, I am part of an organization promoting the conservation of the Amazon Rainforest. I am joining efforts to build a program to protect these essential areas for us and the future of our race. Protecting the rainforests around the world is key to guarantee quality of life on our beloved planet.

Protecting the rainforests around the world is key to guarantee quality of life on our beloved planet

But this is a story we can discuss later.

In the meantime, LET'S GO SAILING!

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