Curaçao's End of the Year Race, held on the last non-holiday Sunday in December, proved a great success. Featuring all kinds of sailing vessels, and supported by the Curaçao Sea Scouts who provide use of their clubhouse, materials and man power, the race once again ranked as the most sociable and enjoyable sailing event of the year.
Despite unsettled weather in the wake of tropical storm Tomas, no less than fifty yachts, Sunfish dinghies, catamarans and surfboards came to the start to compete in the traditional 17.7nm pursuit race that goes from Spanish Water (via Fuik Bay) to Anna Bay in the heart of Willemstad and back.
Because the boats start at different times on handicap, there were 41 starts in the morning. By noon, the famous Handelskade made a great backdrop for the colorful jumble of boats entering the narrow Anna Bay, some under spinnaker.
Except for the windsurfers, who experienced not enough wind to complete the race, all participants finished the course without a problem before 5:00pm.
For Melody and Slow Fox, approaching the finish line was a tense experience. Positive they were going to win the duel, Melody was faced by a sudden drop in the wind allowing Slow Fox to sail by.
The winner of the recently held Curaçao Heineken Regatta Team Ibis continued their winning streak to finish first ahead of DTrip. In third place Casse-Tête, back after a break of several years, scored well flying a new and colorful spinnaker.
This year many of the participants remarked at the number of young sailors who were crewing alongside the veterans, and all agreed that this bodes well for the future of sailing in Curaçao.
The prize giving ceremony was enjoyed by everyone. The first ten teams chose an envelope at random, containing prizes donated by local businesses.
But the best was still to come.
At the end of the prize giving, Curaçao Marine's CEO Gijs Boer handed over a brand new 5hp Tohatsu outboard motor – sponsored by Curaçao Marine and Budget Marine – to the sea scouts to replace one that had been stolen. This gesture was greatly appreciated by sea scout administrators Jan and Annelies Ackermans. Visibly touched, they took the microphone to thank the businessmen for their generosity, and in return received the cheers of the sea scouts and their supporters.
Els Kroon is a Dutch former teacher who now lives and works as an award-winning free-lance photojournalist on Curaçao.