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30 Years Long Distance Piet Dijk Race to Klein Curacao

In 1978, the late Piet Dijk initiated a long distance race for sailing yachts in Curaçao. The first 30 NM course to and from the small uninhabited island of “Klein Curaçao”, situated about five miles south east of the most eastern part of the Curaçao, initially was a try to stimulate local sailors to do more than just some rounds in Spanish Waters and short tracks close to the coast.

After thirty years the race is still alive and kicking. The thirtieth anniversary edition was sailed on April 13th. Usually the famous race takes place on a Sunday in between Carnival and Easter to make sure the strong so called “Kuaresma winds” are taken advantage of.
Due to this year’s early Easter and the fact that the Curaçao Regatta was moved to the days before Easter, organizers Jan van Zon, Marc van Nes and Gerard Rutenfrans postponed the race for the first time to a later date. Despite less wind, the race was sailed within the usual six hours by all nine participating boats.

The racing cruising yacht Melody, duped by a broken mast during the Curaçao Regatta, barely was able to participate in the race. Only last minute skipper Winfried Merkies was able to give the green light. Eventually Melody took the win in her class and overall. The 1010 Curaçao Marine won the racing class but like last year failed just minutes for the overall win.

Again many Sea Scouts participated on their boats Merlin, Marvin, Chamba II and Demarrage. Quite a performance in this 30-mile race which goes out some way offshore.  The young crew on the Merlin did best in the J-24 group and took second in the racing class. But the finish was very close. Not even two minutes later Chamba II passed the finish line and it took the Demarrage only three minutes to follow.

According to organizer Jan van Zon the results in the racing cruising were surprising. Melody unexpectedly managed to keep the lead and amply finished five minutes ahead of Venus Calippyge. Skipper Hans van der Straten didn’t like the smooth sailing of the day. “We had no gusts, no squalls, no gales, no grey clouds and no strong currents. Our boat needs some special circumstances to show her skills.” The young crew on last year’s winner Windhush felt the same.

Tiny Dijk, the widow of the legendary name-giver Piet Dijk, enjoyed the great atmosphere during the prize giving ceremony at the clubhouse of Water Sport Vereniging Jan Sofat at Spanish Waters.  Because of the thirtieth anniversary, Dijk, who owns a framing company, provided a nice surprise for all captains of the boats. They’ll receive a framed enlargement of a photo of their boat in action during the race.  After thirty years Dijk is still pretty involved in the race. Her presence at the (early!) start and providing the prizes has become a tradition. After the anniversary festivities, Dijk hinted that she plans to continue her contribution in many years to come.

Els Kroon is a Dutch former teacher who now lives and works as an award-winning free-lance photojournalist on Curaçao.

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