Zeezwaluw Post number 7
November it is! The hurricane season is slowly leaving by the back-door while a new sailing season is waiting at the front-door. Just a day ago the correspondent had a chat with the crew of Zeezwaluw about their starting date of the first leg of their planned journey. He was told it is soon, very soon. November 6 it will be, weather permitted.
During this chat about leaving Bonaire, the correspondent inquired about the Sailing Regatta Event of early October. For the crew enjoyed it very much the chat was extended with the story of the regatta through the eyes and pictures of the Zeezwaluw crew. So here it comes!
The Bonaire Regatta event is every year and world famous in the ABC-islands. It is an all island happening, at sea and on land. Many boats of the other islands sail to Bonaire to take part in the races. But, ….. what was the Zeezwaluw crew doing you might wonder…… Did they take part too or just enjoyed it as observer?
Well it was the last of course for they had a first row spot to watch these races. Zeezwaluw was swinging behind a mooring ball at the outside-line, therefore having an undisturbed view to port and starboard and far out to sea. The crew could see almost all the buoys the competitors had to round and even the finish line was in view, this was great!
At the internet the crew found the race program with a time table and the different sailing classes; from large (46ft) pure racing boats to optimists and sunfish. To make it even more enjoyable for the Zeezwaluw crew, 3 of the cruising boats of the mooring field joined the “cruising class or open class”. From Thursday till Saturday morning each class had 5 race’s to sail. Saturday evening the winners would be announced in “El Mundo” a café in the centre of Kralendjk.
The opening of the Regatta on Wednesday evening was a loud one. A group of participants with their country flag waving were walking behind a van with ear-splitting loud music out of big speakers while on top of that, a DJ with a microphone tried to inspire the group to sing and dance like the Caribbean’s do. A police car drove at the head, making way for the slowly moving & dancing gathering while another was at the rear end. The whole length of the seaside promenade of Kralendijk, their sirens joined the cacophony with the blue flashing light in tune; it took about an hour….
Every race day at 8 a.m. the crew sat in the cockpit in race outfit (but not truly) with a cup of tea and binoculars at the ready. They were in time to see the participating cruising boats leaving their moorings to sail to the starting line.
There were 3 Nationalities of the cruising boats and very different sized boats; “MAXIMO” (a 44ft semi racer) Dutch, “AJO” an older 30ft Danish and a 40ft US cruising boat the crew did not know the name of. But of course they all have a different rating so the best may win!
While the bigger boats were racing longer distances, first along the mooring field where after they sailed under spinnaker out to sea, and came back an hour later. The little boats (Optimist and Sunfish) had their racing course just behind the mooring line. All of the little sailors were fighting the wind and each other to win their race. One of the buoys the Optimists had to go around was laid too close to a big catamaran.Due to the wind shifts the moored boats moved accordingly and the gap between catamaran and buoy became less than 5m. That was fun for the spectators but awful for the little ones to round that specific buoy! It looked like a war zone! Very soon a boat of the organisation lifted the buoy and dropped it at a more convenient distance from the catamaran in the mooring field.
Farther afield was windsurfing and the traditional sailing fishing boats but hard to see for the crew. Nearby was a special free part in the mooring field were they held races with radiographic-controlled sail boats. The crew supposes the participants were beginners and had still a lot to learn before the next regatta. The beautiful little boats sailed time and again out-off their range into the big ocean! A dinghy had to pick them up far outside the mooring field.So the Zeezwaluw crew had a lot of fun during this 51th Bonaire Regatta just being a cockpit spectator on their own ship. They saw the Dutch “Maximo” sailing a race on their own, always far in front of the rest of the participating boats while the Danish “AJO” was mostly the last boat to finish. But “AJO” had lots of fun with their everyday change of crew.
The last day, the day of hardly any wind, they had the Dutch crew of “Summerwind” as their race crew. They did an excellent job in sailing very, very slowly the last few miles to the finish line.
Saturday afternoon the Zeezwaluw crew heard that “Maximo” won the first prize and Trophy in the “Open Class”. Well done. But to be honest they thought the Danish boat “AJO” should have won an award too, to honour their determination in sailing during the light winds on the last day. Who won the racing class is still a question for most spectators.
Bonaire’s Regatta is a great 4-days event and the Zeezwaluw crew hope it will grow more international and larger in size for it is real fun. Even the cruisers at the mooring field feel part of the whole event.
More news in Pdf form from 2018
New anchoring info of ABC-Islands, Curacao
The SPECIAL travel letter we promished; Bonaire, Washington Slagbaai National Park