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Piet Dijk Race & Carnival Sail

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Mocka Jumbies and Rum...

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It was a great day for sailing say the Curaçao Watersport Association Jan Sofat, organizers of the 39th Piet Dijk Race sailed in late February. Even though rough weather had been expected, conditions ended up being favorable, with 17 knots of wind and an easy chop of one to four feet.

Since 1978 the race, a 30 nautical mile loop that starts at Spanish Water, heads towards the buoy at Klein Curaçao and back, has been a must for ardent sailors.

The race consists of two classes: The Cruising class, which applies the Spanish Water Yardstick (SPY) and is equivalent to the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF) factor, and racing class, where the Time Correcting Factor (TCF) is used. The event is also a pursuit race with vessels being given different start times in the hope that the fleet will all reach Klein Curaçao together.

Named after the late Piet Dijk, owner of a painting company, the Piet Dijk Race is known as the race sailors love and hate at the same time; they love the challenge of the six-hour race but hate the fact that they fight winds and waves for four hours to reach the beautiful sandy beach of Klein Curaçao only to have to turn around for the two-hour sail back, without the time to enjoy a refreshing dip in the azure water. Sailors also know that from the off one small mistake could cost them the race.

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This year Holiday, with Nico Scheper at the helm, again proved to be the strongest boat in Cruising class, winning ahead of Hans Kroeze’s Ninfa di Awa, and Melody helmed by Winfried Merkies, which finished second and third respectively.

In the Racing class, Merlin, skippered by Klaus Schneider, took the honors, while last year’s champion Chamba II with Henry Hernandez at the helm had to settle for second place. “You win some, you lose some,” laughed Hernandez looking back over the race.

Racing class hero of the day was Derek Bongaertz. Only 17 years old, Bongaertz did a great job helming the J24 La Dolce Vita into third place. The boat crew comprised six men ranging in age from 16 to 20 years old. This was the young helmsman’s second attempt at a podium place, having fallen short of a prize last year.


Derek Bongaertz - Winner of the Carnival Sail. Photo courtesy of Matias Capizzano
Derek Bongaertz – Winner of the Carnival Sail. Photo courtesy of Matias Capizzano


The Sunday following the Piet Dijk Race the Carnival Sail got underway.  This long-standing friendly Sunfish event is made up of two races: an hour and a half race from Spanish Water to Barbara Beach’ and back, and a shorter race over the same course.

The exciting first race saw competitors having to deal with constantly changing weather conditions. They got caught in a downpour, had to fight through wind shifts, and encountered sudden calms followed by squalls. At the end of the second race it was clear that Derek Bongaertz was too fast for the ‘old sailors’ and he took the overall win with two bullets. Runner-up was Maarten Taams with two third place finishes. Jan Burgers claimed the final podium place.

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So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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