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Curacao Regatta Brought Back to Life

Early Easter Sunday morning, the new pivot of the Curaçao Regatta, Pimm Blankevoort, heaved a sigh of relief.  The 24th edition of the Curaçao Regatta new style was over. And, despite all fears, a resounding success.

The history of the Curaçao Regatta, which had the addition “international” for many years, goes back to the early eighties—or even to the sixties.  For it was in 1967 when Bonaire organized its first annual Regatta in October, urging most sailors from Curaçao to sail to the neighbouring island and participate. After supervising the starting procedures at the Bonaire Regatta for a couple of years, Curaçao’s Timo Hilhorst thought a Curaçao-based Regatta would be attractive too.

By 1985, around Easter, Timo and some friends organized the first “Curaçao Sail Inn”. The name regatta would be too pretentious for the event. In the first years, however, the Sail Inn gained such a growing popularity, that it “deserved” the title of Regatta in 1987.

It all started with yacht races, but through the years it became more and more a “cat-event”, hosting up to 350 sailors from all over the world, until last year when international sponsors withdrew, leaving the group of volunteers paralyzed and without any drive to continue the event.

Some sail fanatics couldn’t stand the idea not having a Curaçao Regatta in 2008. Under the leadership of Pimm Blankevoort, a retired medical doctor, a new group of volunteers breathed new life into the event in its own way.  Although they started preparations nine months ago, the time turned out to be short and the lack of experience added to the confusion, seizing a light panic in the days prior to the first start.

But once the sailors got onto the water all pieces fell in place and, despite hefty and unreliable weather conditions, the first yacht races on Good Friday stirred up the local sportive sailing spirit, leading to a most enjoyable Saturday competition for Optis, Sunfishes, yachts and windsurfers. The latter group counted 40 participants sailing 20+ nerve-wracking slalom heats in six classes at the Windsurfing Curaçao home base at Spanish Waters.

The competition, well organized by Windsurfing Curacao owners Ingmar Schnitzler and Hilde Tuinbeek, was one happy event, attracting many spectators who went back and forth over the Caracas Bay isthmus watching boats in the Bay and windsurfers in Spanish Waters.  The event was concluded by a hearty BBQ and a prize giving ceremony, which united all sailors.

After all, the Blankevoort group who stayed the course despite all criticism can look back to the 24th Curaçao Regatta with great satisfaction, being confident that the 25th 2009 edition will be in for a dignified anniversary.

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