Each year, in the last weekend of the year, a special event for all seagoing sailing vessels, from windsurf boards to 50 feet yachts, is organized in Curaçao. Windsurfers, Sunfish sailors, open boats like Ynglings and Centaurs, and yachts from 20 feet up to 50 feet, participate. In the course of December this “Eindejaars” (“End of Year” in Dutch) fever catches all sailing fanatics on the island when they start preparing their boats, enlisting crew, cleaning hulls,and taking off unnecessary weight.
The unique element in this race is that each participant gets his own starting time, based on the SPY, (Spanish Water Yard Stick). This SPY tries to predict the time of perfect sailing needed for each participant to battle with the 17.7 nm course from the Sea Scout’s buoy in Spanish Water via Fuik Bay to Anna Bay in the heart of Willemstad and back. This sailing time determines the moment of the starting gun, so almost all boats start at different times. If everybody sails a perfect race, all 44 participating boats and windsurfers should finish at the same moment. In the end skill, determination, hard work and of course luck, decide who finishes first and is then automatically declared the overall winner.
This year, the well known windsurfer, Taty Frans, from Bonaire participated for the first time and won the race. Jaeger St. Jago, also a windsurfer from Bonaire, took second. Extraordinary winds helped them to victory. Curacao Marine 1010 was the best performing yacht followed by the yachts Venus Calippyge, Chamba II, Merlin and Marvin. Local windsurfer Ingmar Schnitzler finished right behind these yachts in the eighth position. Demarrage and La Dolce Vita completed the top ten.
The first part of the race consisted of tacking upwind out of Spanish Water to open sea via the narrow channel of Barbara Beach to the buoy at Fuik Bay, then going 8 miles downwind to the Anna Bay. This channel is right in the middle of the historic centre of Willemstad. The high and colorful buildings surrounding the Anna bay from both Punda and Otrobanda side of the city make the direction and speed of the wind extremely difficult to read, thus creating a unique ambiance for the sailors to get in, round the buoy and get out, back to sea. For the many spectators on both sides it was a magnificent sight. Among them was the crew of the Red Snapper yacht who had to give up right after the start. Like the sailors on the passing boats, they tremendously enjoyed the race, sitting on and emptying the jugs they had on board before.
Besides the unique view along the course, it’s the prize giving ceremony that makes this event unique and enjoyable. The party is organized by the Sea Scouts in their picturesque venue at Spanish Waters, where homemade soup and the traditional New Year’s Eve Dutch treat, “oliebollen” are served by the Sea Scouts. It’s a great way to conclude a fruitful sailing year in Curacao—and get ready for a new one.