Bonaire local Youp Schmit (GA-Sails/Tabou) wins the 2023 FPT King and Queen of the Caribbean! Defending his position in the double elimination, he solidified his dominance over Lennart Neubauer (Starboard/Severne/Maui Ultra Fins) and Yentel Caers (JP/NeilPryde) in second and third respectively. With wind and time left, the third day of competition in Bonaire also boasted a couple of Super Sessions. Sending it for the biggest Forward Loop, Longest Willy Skipper and longest Bodydrag, the riders put on a quality show for the easter weekend crowds gathering on the beach. Watch the double elimination final recap below, and continue on to read the full account of this action packed day.
With only 10 riders left in contention, it was straight into some close heats. Becoming a highlight of the morning was the heat between Yentel Caers and Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard/NeilPryde/Maui Ultra Fins). The Queen of Freestyle was excited about the prospect of competing with men as it was something she hasn’t done since she was a kid. Even though Caers has a World and European title under his belt, he rightfully pointed out that he is up against a 20x World Champion. The heat was quite close, with Offringa busting out a radical and clean Spock Culo on the inside of the competition area. Caers felt the pressure but kept cool and put together a solid heat to advance to the next round.
In the meantime, Brouwersdam local Tim Gerdes (Severne) impressed as he stopped an on form Bimbi Clappers (FutureFly/GA-Sails) and Adam Sims (Sailloft) to advance into the top 6 riders. Tim, like many of the young riders here, has been getting to grips with sailing on a 5.2 and said he was super happy to consistently be landing Spock Culo’s in his heats. A similar sentiment was shared by Pawel Kazmierczak (Starboard/Severne), who despite his loss to Sims this morning was stoked to be improving in what are relatively light winds to most of the riders.
Caers’ win against Offringa was the start of yet another one of his excellent comeback runs. Long term followers of the tour will know that when the Belgian is put in a position to climb back up the ladder, he elevates into a league of his own. With surgical precision he dispatched of fellow countryman Steven van Broeckhoven (Starboard/Gunsails) and Tim Gerdes. He continued on to take revenge on Nigel Hart (FutureFly/Point-7) after his loss to him in the single elimination. He then kindly removed Bodhi Kempen (Severne) off of his first ever pro fleet potential podium place to finally get to a matchup with Lennart Neubauer.
What followed was a heat that will be remembered by many. Returning from injury- hungrier than ever – Neubauer meant business and was not phased by Caers’ his comeback. In the space of 7 minutes, we saw Spock Culo’s on both tacks, numerous Flaka/Shaka/Ponch variations, double power moves like Air Funnel Burners and Double Culo’s, and a soaring Kabikuchi as a cherry on top. Caers also sailed a massive heat, with an exceptionally nice Air Bob Culo. Still, his moves, however impressive, lacked the power that his opponent put on display. When Neubauer landed on the beach after the showdown and got asked about how he felt, he calmly responded that “that was only the best heat of my life”. He also disclosed another essential piece of information that had slipped everyone’s attention – the Youth European Champion was on a 5.6 throughout the whole matchup…
Unsurprisingly, the Greek won and got a second chance against Youp Schmit. He would need to beat him twice to claim the event win and the crowd was yearning to see that happen. The final started with a Culo 360 from Lennart, who nearly slid into Youp as he closed out the move. Backed by his home crowd, Youp powered on with a Shaka Flaka. Lennart raced past and went for a Flaka Ponch but crashed. He decided to swap his 5.6 for a 5.2, but that decision seems to have been to his detriment. He crashed a couple of moves and had to get his head back in the game. Schmit wasn’t slowing down and kept filling up his scoresheet. There was an impressive comeback though, with Spock Culo’s on both tacks from Lennart, as he attempted to prove his versatility. Both riders lost a lot of ground towards the end of the heat, stretching the limits of what was considered the competition area. With a Chachoo crash on the buzzer by Lennart, the heat was over, and it was up to the judges to deliberate on the result while the two tried to make their way back upwind.
When the two got back to the beach, the announcement was made that no Super Final was necessary. Youp defended his single elimination win, making him the official King of the Caribbean! Neubauer did not seem too disappointed, saying that he reached the most important goal for this event which was to prove to himself he is completely back in the game after his injury.
The competition was not over yet though, with a couple of Super Sessions planned to entertain the crowds. Riders had the chance to try and do their best Forward Loop, do the longest Bodydrag or its variation and do the longest Willy Skipper slide. An incredible display of skill and creativity ensued as everyone was blasting into the bay in front of the Frans Paradise to one-up eachother. In the Forward Loop category special entry and event organiser Tonky Frans (GA-Sails/Tabou) left no mercy, doing some of the cleanest and highest renditions of the holy grail of windsurfing moves ever seen on flat water. In the Willy Skipper category, we saw Tim Gerdes enter despite the fact that he has never done the move before. This resulted in a gnarly crash , after which teammate Bodhi Kempen had to help him out of the water. The category win went to Steven van Broeckhoven, who did a Barracuda, his signature move, to seal the deal. Finally, bodydragging himself to victory was Yentel Caers. The Belgian skid over the water like a madman, wowing everyone on the beach. A close contender here was Kempen, who was attempting to do a Flaka into Forward Loop. Had he stuck that, the results might have been different…
With some time, energy and wind left, the day was closed off with a Super X race across the Sorobon Bay. In dying winds it was Caers who managed to complete the course first, after a rabbit start, two ducking moves, two sliding moves and a Duck Jibe at an outside mark. What a show on the penultimate day of the FPT King and Queen of the Caribbean! The last day will boast one more Super Session and the official prize giving.