Windsurfing 101
Roatan on its way to becoming a Caribbean windsurfing destination.

October 1st, 2006
by Thomas Tomczyk

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Carbajal gives instructions to a student.

Carbajal gives instructions to a student.

Some people are lucky enough to turn their passion into a business. One of them is Miguel Carbajal, an energetic Chilean who in February opened Roatan and Honduras’ first windsurfing school.

Now, next to Cozumel, Cancun, and Cuba’s Varadero, Roatan has become one of few Caribbean destinations for people who want to learn how to windsurf. “This island has a magnificent wind for beginners; shallow waters and beaches,” says Carbajal, a windsurfing instructor for 28 years who has been running his own windsurfing schools for 20 years. In February with his girlfriend Lorena Medel, 24, Carbajal opened Wind & Sun Windsurfing School in Sandy Bay.

While Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Isla Margarita are all great windsurfing operations, they are destinations mainly for expert windsurfers. “You can just learn to survive there,” explains Carbajal, who scouted the entire Caribbean before deciding to open his business on Roatan. Carbajal looked at starting a similar school in Cayman Islands, but five years ago Miguel received a phone call from a Chilean friend visiting Roatan who told him of the islands great windsurfing potential.

The 350,000 strong US windsurfing community is always looking for new destinations and with Continental offering a direct flight to Roatan from New York in December, the island will have four US gateways offering direct service here.

Guy Hubbard, 50, a business consultant from New York City is likely to be one of the first windsurfing enthusiasts to take advantage of the new connection. “Here I am learning how to do it right,” he says about the Sandy Bay school. Hubbard who is building his home on Roatan, has taught himself how to windsurf over 20 years ago, but it is only now that he has the opportunity to correct his technique and get rid of ‘bad habits.”

With 60 boards and 40 sails the school has the right equipment for anyone, regardless of their skills or body type. “I love teaching and in two hours I can teach anyone how to windsurf,” says Carbajal. He has two, four and six hour courses that are meant to teach fundamentals of windsurfing in the calm waters and gentle winds of Sandy Bay. The beginner’s courses, starting at $30, are affordable and meant to counter the sport’s elite and unaffordable image. “It’s a sport that’s good for your head,” says Carbajal.

A young windsurfing enthusiast gets a hand-on experience.

A young windsurfing enthusiast gets a hand-on experience.

Wind & Fun Windsurfing School is located in Sandy Bay, next to the baseball field and has already built a small following. The bay just west of Anthony’s Key is now often filled with colorful neoprene sails. “It’s a perfect complimentary sport to diving,” says Carbajal.

Within the next two years Carbajal is thinking of organizing a freestyle windsurfing championship on Roatan that would become part of the Caribbean windsurfing pre-tour. “Maybe we could do it at night, with lights,” he says.

Unlike in the Western Caribbean, windsurfing is only lightly offered as a sport in Central American tourism. Roatan is just beginning its adventure with windsurfing. Big Bight, Paya Bay and Port Royal offer ample space and stronger winds for more advanced windsurfers and now Marble Hill Farms has purchased several windsurf boards for rentals. Through the Bay Islands Honduras is joining Belize and Costa Rica as the only Caribbean destination to offer windsurfing to its tourist visitors. [/private]

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