by Ricky Friedlander

The sport is an ancient Hawaiian form of surfing. It consists of standing up on a large more buoyant surfboard and using a long lightweight paddle to propel yourself on flat water, waves, rivers, lakes, etc… If ever there was a water sport with growing notoriety SUP’ing is the one.

I arrived at the end of the Caracasbaai to the beautiful Spanish Waters district of Curaçao and made a left turn past the bathing beach dwellers following the signs to my destination. I came upon a sandy parking lot with big colorful graffiti letters painted on the side of a shipping container on a cute little section of beach that read “Windsurfing Curaçao.”

I was immediately and wholeheartedly greeted by owners Ingmar, his wife Hilda and their sweet little baby Nui. They were celebrating the return of one of their students after winning the world amateur windsurfing competition in Europe.

Don’t let the shipping container offices and eclectic décor fool you. This is a first class professional operation.

Ingmar is a local of mixed heritage loaded with enthusiasm and an infectious smile. His Dutch wife Hilda whom he claims is the brains of the operation is more the renegade. What a perfect mix. They are certainly living the dream.

After studying computer programming and Hilda working as a waitress abroad in Holland they returned to Curaçao, and took the plunge to finally follow their dream and doing what they love; being on the water under the sunny blue skies. They opened up “Windsurfing Curaçao” six years ago on a shoestring budget, and it has certainly taken flight.

With the windsurfing business in high gear it made sense for Ingmar and Hilda to make the move to the world’s fastest growing sport, Stand Up Paddle Boarding aka SUP’ing. SUP’ing, the predecessor to surfing has been gaining in popularity over the past decade, largely due to big wave surfing legend Laird Hamilton.

In warm coastal climates and resorts people are benefiting from  a strong ‘core’ workout, cross-over athletes are training with SUP and celebrities are sampling the sport. Stand Up Paddling (SUP’ing) has been spotted around the globe, wherever there is easy access to safe waters. Accredited to its rise in popularity is that unlike surfing, paddle-boarding is a breeze to learn. Within one hour SUP-ers are comfortable in the water and on the board.

With three boards in stock and eight more on the way Ingmar shares his plans with me. We jumped into his dingy and sped off to the beautiful mangroves where the winds are light, water is smooth, birds are singing, and table mountain make up the perfect backdrop for this SUP adventure of a lifetime. For more experienced paddlers he has test run a downwind ocean paddle on the open sea. He also has pegged an aerobics class for the future in the turquoise shallows. Ingmar says with a smile “Imagine doing your morning exercise with little fish swimming beneath you under the blue skies enveloped by the song of birds?” Need I say more?

These folks put the “fun” in vacation with a dynamic, friendly, patient, approach for any age group…true asset to the island of Curaçao.