19th ANNUAL AGUA ALTA – CAREYES MEXICO – MARCH 2018
Costa Careyes is a private gated community located on the Pacific Ocean originally founded by Gian Franco Brignone in the late 70’s. There was discussion about golf or polo to be added to the resort. With the influence of his son, Giorgio Brignone, polo won the toss. Now Careyes polo club has two fields and stabling for over 120 horses. The Careyes Polo Club was the host for one week of polo with 6 teams and 5 chukkers of play at 5-7 goals. From March 24 to March 31st – all played each other to gain a spot in the finals.
The Agua Alta tournament was founded by Italian Polo Player Alberto Ardissone in 2000 . Playing great polo with his friends from all over the World in the best beach setting was the idea. Tradition has followed through the years with the help of Giorgio Brignone who now runs the event. It is the most famous and prestigious tournament in Mexico with 19 years of play.
This year there is now a new polo event with nearby La Patrona Polo Club in the state of Naygarit north of Puerto Vallarta in the village of San Pancho. After 10 days of polo at the Careyes Polo Club – new teams travelled north 3 hours on the scenic drive to the La Patrona Polo Club. The event will be called The Pacific Circuit. A great experience on one of the most beautiful coastlines on the Pacific Ocean.-
During the week of play – many social activities were scheduled including opening night at Hosts and creator of the tournament - Alberto and Kari Ardissone – at their villa – Agua Alta. Team shirts made especially for this tournament were presented by Tucane – a popular and upscale clothes line. Others sponsors included Destino Rentals of Puerto Vallarta, both states of Jalisco and Riviera Naygarit, Tequila Cuervo Gold, Stella Artois, Panyc, a specialty leather boutique, and Froyland of TOP Sports. Playa Rosa Beach restaurant and Punto Como, 2 of the 6 restaurants at the Resort, each had events at their venue and the new El Careyes Club and Residences hosted a cocktail evening. La Patrona Polo Club showcased their club one night at the larger than life screening in the Plaza de los Caballeros.
Players from England, Portugal, USA, Italy, Argentina and Mexico were here to win the coveted Agua Alta tournament. A first this year was a lady polo player in the finals. Rebecca Foltz from Seattle, Waashington, who just started playing 6 months ago, was on the Careyes.net team with Roberto Gonzalez Gracida, Miguel Gomez de Parada and Juan Galan. The late Major Hugh Dawnay, a polo professor extrordinaire, son , Sebastian, was on the roster of the Switzerland team of Chris and Will Falk and Cedric Schweri, the Swiss player returning after 3 years. Dawnay had not played here for several years in Careyes and was special for him as his father’s ashes are scattered on the number one field.
Play was continuous throughout the week with only Monday and Thursday was a day of rest. After 90 chukkers of play and timeout during chukkers to change horses with Chad Kraml and Marcos Bignoli USPA certified umpires doing all the games – the finalists were decided. Fortaleza team with Valerio and Pancho Aguilar, Erick Cornejo and Guillermo Jimenez played against the Careyes.net team – both with a won-loss record of 4 to 1. Before the finals playoffs were for standing five and six pitted LaPatrona Polo Club – Tomas Elliot, Ladis Garcia, Alexis Echeverria and Milo Ardissone - first time visitors to Careyes and the Agua Alta/Quinto Sol team – Manuel Matos, Alberico Ardissdone, Raul Ramirez and Diego Gonzalez. Agua Alta/Quinto Sol were the winners – 9 to 5. For standing 3 and 4 – a super game with Steta/Mexico – Guillermo Steta,president of the Mexican Polo Federation, Erik Barba, Andres Gonzalez and Benito Hernandez against the Switzerland team – Chris and Will Falk, Cedric Schweri and Dawnay. Every chukker was ending in a tie and at the end after the final bell – there was a shootout with Switzerland winning 9 to 8.
The finals – all players – Fortaleza – Erick Cornejo, the Aguilar brothers and Jimenez against the Careyes.net team led by Roberto Gonzalez, Gomez de Parada, Juan Galan and Rebecca Foltz came out with their best horses ready to go but Fortaleza was hot! They were leading in the first chukker by 3 to 0 and they just kept pounding their opponents- At Halftime the score was 7 – 3. The Careyes .net team came to life in the 4th with 2 quick goals. At the end – the score was 8 to 5 – Fortaleza – the Champions of the 19th Annual Agua Alta. A great week of polo, competition, social events and meeting players from around the World.
Best playing pony was Nacha – 4 year old mare owned by Gomez de Parada. Professional MVP scoring the most goals was Sebastian Dawnay and MVP patrons were both Jimenez and Cornejo who both played outstanding throughout the week but were spot on for the finals.
Polo is played from November to through April – please see careyes.com. Next year the 20th Annual Agua Alta will be played April 12 to the 20th, 2019.