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Tufts Sophomore Sails to Victory

Tufts Sophomore Sails to VictoryWith good winds, there's no telling how far international sailing champion Tomas Hornos can go.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [10.05.07] Tomas Hornos won't soon forget his 19th birthday when the Tufts sophomore became the youngest-ever skipper to earn the top prize at the 2007 Snipe World Championship. Held in Leix§es, Portugal, the week-long event featured nearly 60 teams from around the world, each competing in a 15-foot racing dinghy. Winning the race "was the best present I've ever had," Hornos told The Boston Globe.

It was an unexpected one, too. Hornos has been sailing since he was a child, but didn't count on winning a tournament that draws some of the top sailors in the world, many with more years of racing experience than the young Jumbo.

"I'm still in shock," Hornos' teammate Enrique Quintero, a Miami high schooler, said in an interview with Tufts Athletics. "We didn't expect this outcome because we just started to sail together. At most, we were hoping to make the top 20, because we sort of looked at the regatta as an opportunity to practice together."

Hornos and Quintero would have been satisfied just to place, but a unique weather pattern of lighter winds worked to their advantage, enabling them to beat Kenji Abe and Hiroshi Yamachica of Japan to win the title.

"I'd say that I'm better in light air than heavier winds," the mechanical engineering major told the Globe. "Where we sail in college for the sailing team, we get a lot of light air. It's just been my specialty."

At Tufts, Hornos hones his sailing skills on West Medford's Upper Mystic Lake, where the sailing team practices and competes under the direction of Ken Legler. According to the coach, Hornos had a "winning strategy and a winning speed" in Portugal, the result of years of dedication to the sport.

"He does probably do more sailing outside of college than anyone on our team," Legler told the Globe.

Hornos got his first taste of sailing as a toddler, when his family moved to Swampscott, Mass., from Argentina and his father began taking him out on the water. By age 10, he was sailing competitively, the newspaper reported.

Through the years, training has taken Hornos to both Florida and New Jersey;he's settled into a schedule of sailing six days a week in the summer and on weekends during the school year. According to the Globe, Hornos even participates in the practice of "frostbiting," sailing in Winthrop, Mass., every Sunday from November to April, despite the biting New England cold. It's that kind of dedication and enthusiasm that won Hornos success in Portugal, and bodes well for future endeavors.

Luckily, Hornos doesn't think he's hit his peak yet;he still has plenty of goals to work toward, including making the first team for the Tufts sailing squad, which is ranked ninth among colleges around the country. And of course, the 2012 Olympics are just a few years away. Hornos dreams about competing in the games in a star boat, which is seven feet longer than the snipes he races now.

For now, though, he can relax and enjoy a victory he never expected. As Hornos told Tufts Athletics, "It is an honor and a privilege to conquer the title."

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