Pablito Guzman has done it again! From July 17th through 20th, Cabarete’s beach in front of Vela was packed with competitors and windsurf lovers alike. For the third consecutive year, the friendly people from Cabarete welcomed windsurfers of all ages, competing in thirteen categories of freestyle heats and slalom and formula races.
From the seventy-four registered competitors, representing 14 countries, including Argentina, Aruba, Austria, Bonaire, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, the Dominican Republic, the UK and the USA, over half were youth racers in the mini junior and junior categories, 17 and under.
The slalom track athwart the waves was exciting and a real fun challenge for the participants. When the wind was right, the freestyle windsurf event was held, in which the young champions showed their amazing stunts and tricks. In the formula races the competitors tried to break their own records.
Notable competitors included the event organizer himself, Pablito Guzman, who took first place in the Open Class Slalom category, and “triathlete” Samuel Perez, who was the only competitor to compete in all three disciplines and who took home trophies in all three. Amongst the youth competitors, there were a number of strong performances by both local sailors and those from other parts of the Caribbean.
Many of the mini junior competitors raced for the first time, having just started training this year thanks to a windsurfing program for disadvantaged youth sponsored in part by Pablito Guzman, Vela Resorts, and the DREAM Project. Young sailors Steven Lageveen from Aruba and Ezri Heymans from Bonaire set the bar high for youth competition, particularly impressing judges and spectators with their freestyle tricks, and capturing the first and second place in the Mini Juniors Freestyle category.
As always, Guzman and his team pampered the participants with a variety of food and drinks and even a rock concert and fashion show after the races. By giving all his time, love and skills to the kids of the DR, Pablito has created amazingly talented windsurfers with an endless passion for the sport—and world champs-to-be. During the event he was seen strolling along the beach, encouraging all the participants and making sure the event was going smoothly.
The closing ceremony was held on the beach in front of Vela, with a huge BBQ, lots of music and plenty of partying people. It was an exciting and fun filled four days for all, thanks to all the volunteers, especially Kim, Sammy, Jens, Neil, Sanghita and Mark. But most of all to the man all admire and love…..Pablito Guzman. Writer’s note: Thanks also go to Mayra, who provided information and photos for this report.
Els Kroon is a Dutch former teacher who now lives and works as an award-winning free-lance photojournalist on Curaçao.