The Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire attracts windsurfers from all over the world to unspoiled Lac Bay sailing site for spectacular slalom and freestyle conditions in clear blue water, surrounded by pure white sand beach. During the first days of August, freestyle windsurfing Pro Kids event was an over-the top success—and Bonaire’s first world- wide live webcast.
Before the start of the three-day competition, Elvis Martinus proudly announced that it would include almost 100 youngsters ages 2-18 from nine countries (Bonaire-38, Curaçao-27, Holland-4, Belgium-2, Aruba-2, plus one each from Canada, France, Germany and Switzerland).
Elvis was Bonaire’s first windsurfing champion more than 25 years ago but winning wasn’t always uppermost in his mind. Windsurfing as the national sport of Bonaire was. He and his supporters worked tirelessly to make that happen, and were so successful that a score of Bonaire youngsters have sailed “professionally” in events all over the world. Manufacturers even began to produce boards especially designed for these “pro kids.” Starboard, the maker of the Pro Kids line of windsurfing boards was the title sponsor.
The weather was superb with mostly steady trade winds in the high teens making all sorts of maneuvers possible. Some highlights:
On one extreme was the adorable baby kids class, on the other the 18 plussers featuring Bonaire’s own Taty Frans and Quincy Offringa from Aruba. The wind was more than sufficient for some nice planing conditions allowing the freestylers to do what they do best: Flakas, Gonzagas, Chachos and other space age-named moves.
Event organizers Jessy Sint Jago and Liesje Saragoza, windsurf moms themselves, made sure the kids had T-shirts, rash guards and were well fed. Susie and Tinho Dornelas flew in from Florida, providing a professional race organization, a challenge with so many young competitors. Their crew of volunteer judges and staff made things move smoothly all weekend. Many windsurf Moms and Dads volunteered to make this international event happen. Bits Bonaire and Telbo UTS used their technical expertise to present live streaming video on the website www.prokidsfreestyle.com.
There were parties with great food and music and of course some awesome entertainment. Magic happens when an entire community comes together to put on something special for the kids. Windsurfing has become a national pastime in Bonaire transforming the lives of some and impacting many. Special thanks to all the sponsors and volunteers who made Pro Kids 2006 a great event.