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Punta Fuego Regatta small competitor the biggest winner

Janno Dalanon, a 13-year-old competitor, receives the Principal Race Officer award for his heroic stand during Saturday’s races at Punta Fuego. Dalanon’s photo in action (inset) came out of yesterday’s issue of The STAR. ABAC CORDERO

NASUGBU, Batangas, Philippines – The 11th Punta Fuego Regatta came to a close yesterday with winners from four different categories proudly raising their trophies at the Punta Fuego Yacht Club.

But it was a 13-year-old local competitor, who didn’t even finish in the top three of the lighter Optimist Class, who won the hearts of many.

Janno Dalanon, here as part of the Philippine sailing team developmental pool, received the Principal Race Officer award for his exemplary courage and sportsmanship.

Dalanon came to the rescue of Rex Puentespina, an adult competitor in the Hobie 16 Class, when the latter’s boat capsized amid strong winds at the height of Saturday’s races.

Puentespina, a director at the Philippine Inter-island Sailing Foundation, said he was moved by Dalanon’s gesture to come to his aid even when the latter was in a race he had wanted to win.

“Our boat capsized and because of the strong winds I found myself easily 30 meters away from the boat and my partner. Janno stopped by to help me,” said Puentespina.

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Dalanon boarded Puentespina on his Optimist boat no bigger than a ping-pong table, and waited until the rescue boat arrived. He lost a lot of time doing so, and sacrificed a good finish.

Dalanon is the same competitor whose photo appeared in yesterday’s issue of The STAR. He drew cheers when he got up the stage to receive the special award.

“Gumaan po ang pakiramdam ko pagkatapos ko siya tulungan (I felt better after I helped him out),” said Dalanon, over the microphone, after he was asked how he felt.

Dalanon proudly showed off his award to his fellow competitors in the Optimist Class.

Puentespina reminded everyone during the ceremony that Rule No. 1 in sailing is “to help any person, boat or vessel in danger,” regardless of the circumstance.

Dalanon did all that, and sacrificed a better finish even when he was told that he could ask for a redress (restart of the heat) as a result of the incident.

“He deserved the award. He stopped by to help me even if he didn’t have to. Besides, I had my vest on. But he did and I thank him for that,” said Puentespina.

Ruling the Optimist Class after two days of races was Fernan Sarmiento followed by Edgar Villapana and Froilan Boyano; Hobie 16 Ridgely Balladares and Richly Magsanay followed by Joel Mejarito and John Albert Escalante, and Mike Ngu and Lando Pahayahay; Hobie Bravo Tommy Lim followed by Martin Marty and Noel Lim; and the Cruising Division Irresistible of Harry Taylor followed by Freewheeler of David Wheeler and Strawberry Hill of Santi Picornell.

But perhaps none as big a winner as Dalanon.

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