In a sun and action filled weekend, Kiri Thode defended his Freestyle title successfully and Taty Frans took the Slalom Pro Division with ease. A total of 85 windsurfers from some of the world’s best surf countries like Bonaire, Aruba and Curaçao competed in front of hundreds of spectators. In its 5th year, the Curaçao Challenge again proved to be an event where high level of competition is mixed with a great atmosphere.
There wasn’t enough wind for the freestyle pros to perform their usual arsenal of tricks so a special tow-in session was organized, where the competitors would gain high speeds by being pulled by a jet ski before letting go and doing a spectacular move. Tow-in competition is gaining popularity worldwide as the public can see the moves close to shore and no wind is needed. Remarkable were the efforts by local windsurfer Rafael de Windt, who went for extreme maneuvers but placed 4th behind the big three from Bonaire: Kiri Thode took first place, followed by Björn Saragoza and Taty Frans. Other competitors were Amado Vrieswijk and Quincy Offringa. Basically, the whole Starboard freestyle crew was there!
Taty Frans did take home the slalom title in front of one the most beautiful beaches of Curaçao with clear turquoise Caribbean water, the so-called Director's Bay. The 1st day of competition featured 20 knots of wind and a total of 7 heats were raced, which set a record for the Curaçao Challenge. Kiri Thode proved to be very capable on a slalom board and took second place. Jean Patrick van der Wolde, another local Curaçao talent, placed third. In the amateur divisions, Curaçao showed where its real future of windsurfing is, with over 15 female competitors and some raw talent in winners Mylene de Vries and Evi Brandt.
The 3 day windsurf event was characterized by smiles, which showed at the award ceremony where, although Bonaire took the biggest prizes, the local talents climbed the podium with happy faces and pride. Taty Frans produced the biggest smiles of all, which truly makes him one of the greatest ambassadors and inspirations for the sport of windsurfing. He arrived on Curaçao by surfing from Bonaire to Curaçao in a world record 1 hour and 40 minutes for a fund-raiser for his friend Jayson Muller.
Stand Up Paddle
For the first time on Curaçao, a SUP competition was held. With 48 competitors, this sport is rapidly becoming popular on Curaçao. Again, Bonaire took control and Taty Frans claimed the title with a board length after 4 rounds of elimination, followed by Ingmar Schnitzler and Felix Martina, both from Curaçao.
The 2013 Curaçao Challenge will be held for the 5th consecutive year from May 10th to May 12th. The event has proven to be a welcome addition to the already existing windsurfing competitions in the Caribbean. Visitors can expect spectacular high-speed slalom windsurfing and spectacular moves and tricks by the worlds' best freestylers, such as Kiri Thode, Taty Frans and Sarah-Quita Offringa.
The goal of the organization is to create an international platform for the many talented windsurfers on Curaçao and the surrounding islands. Event Director, Hilde Schnitzler explains: “We have about 100 local kids in our weekly windsurfing lesson program. The Curaçao Challenge is the big thing of the year for them. It's great to see all the happy faces”.
Kiri Thode (Winner of the Freestyle competition in 2012) feels the same way: “Since the first one back in 2009, I liked this event because it’s a pretty big event in the ABC islands and really well organized. A lot of people are supporting it. I can't wait to be there again. ACTION!”
During the event, there will be more than just windsurfing. A "Surf Town" will be created where everybody can experience the Curaçao surf culture. Relax in the sand at the seaside, watch incredible top athletes perform and even join in on the action with various fun activities. New this year is the addition of the Stand Up Paddle Challenge, which will be the very first SUP competition on Curaçao ever. “The Curaçao Challenge is one of the great events in the Caribbean”, says Taty Frans, “because the atmosphere is warm and the organizers are friendly. Windsurfing and racing in the water of Curaçao is enjoyable and it's a must.”
During the event, photos, videos & results will be posted online. There will be a live stream available for those who can’t make it to Curaçao.
In case you haven't heard of the Curacao island, it has great wind conditions year round with trade winds blowing at around 20 knots, every day! With an average of 8 sun hours a day and absolutely no need for a wetsuit, this beautiful Caribbean island is a windsurfer’s dream. The conditions are similar to neighboring islands Aruba and Bonaire, which are two of the world’s most popular windsurf destinations.
For more information, visit the Facebook page or the official website..!