The Curaçao Challenge, held over Easter weekend, put Curaçao back on the map as a windsurf destination! For four days, nearly 100 sails swished along the south coast in front of the Sea Aquarium Beach. Wet & Wild Beach Bar, home base for the event, was cloaked in the striking yellow shirts and hats of participants and supporters. During the closing BBQ and following prize giving ceremony on Monday, the new sailing festival was brought to a climax.
Race director Hans Allaert had a hard nut to crack, calculating and bringing results up after the races came to an end in the early afternoon. Meanwhile, organizer Hilde Tuinbeek thanked the many sponsors and put the 35 volunteers, who achieved the success for the 82 participants, in the spotlight.
Curacao Challenge was set up in record time. The idea found ground after the participation of several members of Windsurfing Curacao in international competitions, where they achieved excellent results. Due to frequent requests, the Windfreaks Association was established and, starting mid-January, organizers Hilde, Mayra and Roelof significantly put their shoulders to the realization of the well organized, versatile event.
Friday through Monday, ten slalom races were held both out at sea for the experienced windsurfers and in the safe breakwaters for the rookies. On Saturday a long distance race was organized downwind to the beach at the Marriott hotel. In the afternoon, windsurfers as well as the public on the beach could enjoy freestyle demonstrations on an international level by windsurfers from all ABC islands. World Champion Freestyle Sarah-Quita Offringa from Aruba surprisingly participated, having just returned from a Hawaii photo shoot and promised her full participation in the 2010 Curaçao Challenge.
Sponsors included supermarket Albert Heijn, Insel Air, Obsession Watersports, McDonalds and others. AH manager Rens Mulder and Insel Air representatives Janine Lee and Jurgen Lippinkhof were present every day. “The next ‘Taty Frans’ should be a windsurfer from Curaçao,” Mulder said, refering to both the success of the Bonairean windsurfers and the potential present in the Curaçao youngsters. Frans, from Bonaire, was the winner of the high Open Class with eighteen highly competitive participants.
With the advent of Windsurfing Curacao, where the local youngsters can make a good start, the chance for global fame certainly exists. There are plans in preparation for participation in the Aruba Hi Winds, in the Pro Kids in Bonaire and the Cabarete Classic in the Dominican Republic, all highly classified competitions with international participants, during the month of July.
An airplane of the national carrier surprised all present on the beach, as well as the passengers in the plane by performing two low flyovers during the prize giving ceremony on Monday. In conclusion, a "teaser" of a film composed by a three-headed camera team was shown. For the teaser and race results: www.curacaochallenge.com.
About Windsurfing Curacao
The launch in 2006 of Windsurfing Curacao at the Spanish Water side of Caracas Bay Island gave new impetus to the local windsurfing activities, which had been in a sleeping mode following a boom in the eighties and nineties. Windsurfing Curacao, together with the recently established Windfreaks Association, breathed new life into the sport. It has seen a huge influx of both tourists and local youth and veterans since. Organizing the Curacao Challenge, an open ocean slalom windsurfing competition, was the result of the high demand for an international event.