We love to watch elite SUP racers vie against the wind and current, gliding far on bumps and waves in a challenging down-winder. In the January La Ventana Classic a champion rose from the local community on a waterlogged board that floated ashore as ocean debris and with a paddle he constructed from scrap metal and blue paint. You may be scratching your head, “What?” Me too, but then I got the story from the top female racers in the week long event, Terri Plunkett and Bonnie Fromm. (Featured image by Matt Treger Photography)
Terri shared, “La Ventana Classic was a magical event with down-winders similar to Maui. The El Norte wind powers down the beautiful Sea of Cortez. While all that was amazing, I was most touched by the local community and the cause this event supported. All proceeds went to send high school kids to school. The cost is $300/kid per year, but let me put this in perspective. During the week we were there the Mexican government announced the minimum wage was raised – to $4.50 (comparable USD) per DAY. No wonder the tuition is beyond the reach of most families.
Over 13,000.00 was raised and instantly distributed to selected students based on the student’s willingness and motivation for education So many are so poor. I really felt and saw the poverty first hand. Just giving your hat to a local kid made them so so happy. But the generosity, the sharing of food, talent and smiles indicated to us all how rich the community was in spirit. They had parties every night with local bands
Many groups of children performed and danced for us at the event site. The K and 1st graders being over the top adorable! The locals made and sold homemade tamales, cerviche and burritos every day. We had board caddies to cart our boards around for us.”
Who was the local champion?
Bonnie Fromm completed Julio’s story, “One local father paddled from town on his soft top board (yes, the waterlogged 50-pounder) and chewed up, homemade paddle to join us! Julio was an inspiration to all of us in his determinAtion to finish all five races. After one race we were able to loan him a solid board and nice paddle. He finished every race with a huge smile. I asked him how he got in such great shape to paddle so well and he pulled out his rosary beads, kissed them then said ‘strength for our kids’ in spanish! In the end he was awarded a new paddle for being so inspirational.”
Julio Caesar Locero ended up as the Town Hero. It was a challenge for even seasoned racers to do all 5 races. The “down-winders” ranged from 5-15 miles and were often side wind in large chop and surf. His desire and courage was contagious! No one wanted to see Julio out on the water on the waterlogged board he found washed ashore. Anthony Vela rallied the vendors and eventually Julio was loaned an F1 board to use. Rather than raffling off one of the paddles, the race manager presented it to Julio. Cheers and great energy came every time he was on the podium. Terri and Bonnie agree, “We all learned that racing is about heart, friends and our shared love of SUP.”
There is a lot more to this story:
Read More, “Buoy Crash = Friendship”