Semana Santa is the week before Easter and has always been the dates for the Agua Alta tournament hosted by Alberto Ardissone, the creator of the event, and Giorgio Brignone, the owner and founder of the polo club. The site of the festival is located in the private resort of Careyes with many villas and casitas , 2 mature polo fields and a 5 minute beach ride to the Pacific Ocean from the fields. The 16th year of this one-of-a-kind polo tournament was held March 28th through April 4th. Besides hosting six -10 goal teams – there were also 4 – 6 goals teams playing in the Agua Baja. The following week hosted the FIP Juniors tournament and an Amatuers Cup plus the highest goal event in Mexico – the Copa de Oro. Twelve countries were represented in the two week long festival and hosted by Porsche-Mexico with 8 of their stylish automobiles represented fieldside. Tucane, a new upscale sports company and owned by young entrepreneur Jose Antonio Amutio, provided the very chic jerseys for the 10 teams. Umpires for the event was Matias Baibiene, Daniel Roenisch and Nicolas Millan – all praised by the players.
The Agua Alta had Switzerland – Cedric Schweri, Chris Falk, David Buller and Olavo Novaes,Canada – Roger Girard, Andrea Vianini, Luis Perez and Rodolfo Romos, Peru – Miguel Gomez de Parada, Victor Setien, Rogelio Sada, both first time players and Iago Masias, Agua Alta – Alberico Ardissone, Manuel Matos, Diego Gonzalez and Juan Chavanne, Mexico/Porsche Mcquilling – Diego Aguilar, Guillermo Steta, Guillermo Li and Fico Uribe and host team Careyes/USA – Giorgio Bringone, Brian Boyd, Vale and Pancho Aguilar.
All teams played each other over the week with 5 games deciding who would play who in the finals. Team Mexico Porsche – patron Billy Steta and new patron Diego Aguilar – was undefeated all week and Team Careyes – patron Giorgio Brignone and new to Agua Alta Brian Boyd of Santa Fe, NM, had only the one lost against the Mexico Porsche team. The finals between the 2 teams was hard fought and at halftime the score was 6-5 in favor of Careyes. It was down to the wire with the 2 Aguilar brothers playing against Guillermo Li and Fico Uribe scoring goal for goal – the 4th chukker Uribe of Mexico/Porsche scored 3 goals to 2 goals for Careyes. Last chukker – tied – back and forth each end and in the finals seconds Guillermo(Billy) Steta put the goal thru for the Mexico team ending a super final that everyone will be talking about.
Agua Alta (average age 25 years old) was the third place team over Peru and Switzerland was 5th over the Canada team with another first time Agua Alta Patron Roger Girard of Montreal.
High scoring amateur for the 10 goal was Cedric Schweri of the Switzerland team and Li of the Mexico /Porsche team was the high scoring professional.
The Agua Baja with 4 teams again played each other giving the teams plenty of polo. Teams were – Destino/Puerto Vallarta Luis Perez, Alex Verdayes, Juan Pablo Gallegos and Vale Aguilar, London/Panyc- George Sandhu, Vicente Gutierrez, Carlitos Hernandez and Santiago Holschneider, Buenos Aires – Augusto and Nacho Sola, Miguel Gomez de Parada and Roberto Payne, and Mexico/Porsche2 – Diego Velarde, Rodolfo Ramos, Guillermo Steta and Alejandro de Souza.
Right down to the wire – teams had to be decided by net goals and who beat who. The defending champions – Buenos Aires of the Sola family against Mexico/Porsche2. Diego Velarde just returning from 3 months in California lead the Mexico team to victory but not an easy road as father-son Solas were determined and with Miguel Gomez de Parada and young player Roberto Payne did not make it easy and tying the score in the 3rd chukker 5 to 5. The last chukker – again back and forth but Steta put the final goal thru with just seconds on the scoreboard.
George Sandhu of the Panyc team was high scoring amateur and Velarde lead the professionals.
Our final week had the Juniors playing for 3 days of clinic and competiton – again finalists were decided by total goals as all team had a zero net goal. Team Blue Careyes with Milo and Lulu Ardissone, Giancarlo Brignone and Carlos Zamora scoring the most goals over the 2 day tournament – Milo Ardissone was recognized as the MVP. Other players include – Team – Pink Panthers – Coco Sandhu, Gatsby Moelhaussen, Adrian Beltran and Miguel Gomez de Parada and Team – White Snowbirds – Paulino Valdez, Andrea Beltran, Dario Zamora and Nico Millan. The professionals on the 2 (Millan and Gomez de Parada)teams were not allowed to score, ride off or hook.
The Agua Amateurs with 2 teams playing against each other over 2 days – scoring being carried forward – after the first day was 5-5 but Team Mexico with Miguel Gomez de Parada. Rafael Valdez, Alfonso Rojas and Milo Ardissone came out on top against Team Careyes Giancarlo Brignone, Diego Aguilar, Nico Millan Jimmy Giebeler – 9 – 8.
Copa de Oro is the GRAND FINALE OF THE FESTIVAL- For Mexico it is the highest rated game. Two teams were fielded by Guillermo Steta – winner the previous week of the 16th Annual Agua Alta and Alberico Ardissone with Guillermo Li and Fico Uribe leading the team – 12 goals – and Giorgio Brignone had Andrea Vianini, Nicolas Millan and Miguel Gomez de Parada – 13 goals. Play was over two days with the score carried forward to the finals. Ten chukkers of great, fast, competitive polo were witnessed at the Careyes club. The Mexico/Porsche team was leading by 3 goals going into the final 5 chukkers. Play was back and forth. However, Mexico got the first goal and put them 4 goals ahead. Vianini and Millan scored 3 quick goal in the first chukker to make it 5-3. Second chukker – again goal for goal and at halftime after the 3rd chukker the score was 8 to 5. Millan had 3 goals in the 4th but Uribe had 2 – score 10 to 8. Final chukker Careyes Millan scored again but time ran out ending a very fast paced, exciting game – Mexico Porsche over Careyes 10-9. Millan was high scorer with 7 goals. The Polo Fesitval had ended with great play, super social activites, Charreada, a Mexico rodeo, and a beachside luncheon hosted by the Mexican Polo Federation.
The season for Careyes polo is November through April – please see www.careyes.com – and come visit this club and private gated resort located on the Pacific Ocean.