Willy Nelson got it right when he sang ‘You Are Always On My Mind’… and I like to believe that he was thinking about Aruba – boy, is it good to be back. Yes things change, the Ritz Carlton Hotel is up and the windsurfing area has moved, but it’s still great to be out speeding along the blue highway with its clear water and smooth flat jibing. The wind has been really good since we arrived in December and we’ve had Vela guests planing every day but a couple (after all, every once in a while it’s good to work on light wind freestyle). Over the holiday season the center was busy with old friends Mac and Enry out doing lessons and helping the guests.
Once again at Vela, Christmas came early with new sails and boards. Some 2013 sails are already rigged so most of our quiver is 2012 & 2013 Neil Pryde sails. The new sails look great and are built really well, and the ones I’ve used so far have been sweet on the water. I’m especially excited about the new Neil Pryde H2 Racing 7.2 sail I rigged the other day. This year Neil Pryde dropped the RS:Slalom and upgraded the H2 with more performance in a user-friendly package. Feedback from the guests has been real positive, especially when matched up with our freerace carbon boards.
Around 40 new 2013, JP and Starboard boards arrived and are all setup and ready for rental. All the old JP X-Cite Rides (158 to 122) have been replaced, most in lighter Full Wood construction. We now have a new line of Starboard Carves (111 – 151), that seem to fit well between the X-Cite Rides and racier Futura/Super Sport lines and have expanded the Futura line with some new 2013 boards. I can’t wait to try the new JP FreetsyleWave Pro edition boards we have in sizes 111 to 84. Finally, for the really light days or really big guys we have a new Starboard Carbon iSonic 127 and a new JP Super Lightwind Pro 90. Our 12 new JP paddleboards have been getting lots of use from both Vela guests and tourists. The new boards are lighter and livelier than our old ones and feedback has been really good.
As I get more sailing in, I’ll give more feedback on the new gear.
I ran into Sarah-Quita Offringa and her brother Quincy out sailing together, nice to see their ‘family activities’ includes sailing together. Congratulations to SQ on her 5th straight freestyle title.
Now the less-than-stellar news: Yes, a Ritz Carlton is being built and it has created a big wind shadow close to the beach. We now have to walk out a little way (to near where the Oasis used to be moored) to start sailing. The other option is sail straight out at where the wind funnels between the Mariott and Ritz and then head towards the red flag to start sailing. We have moved the Oasis (our on-water refreshment cooler) over to the reef, near where the red flag was, for better access and sailing. Again, sailing at the ‘Red Flag’ and ‘Blue Highway’ are still as good as ever.
The good news: Vela just got written approval from the government to move just North of the Ritz, near the Fisherman’s Huts. This will give us cleaner wind and better launch access. Stay tuned as we finalize details as lots of other plans are in discussion. Or even better come join us for an amazing Vela Windsurfing vacation here in Aruba. —Tom Lepak