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The World Sets Sail In Curacao

Apr 25, 2008
The island of Curacao has long been known for its historic architecture and remarkable scenery, both on land and offshore. However, Curacao also takes great pride in other aspects of its colonial past. Taking advantage of the spacious harbor in the capital city of Willemstad, Curacao has welcomed some of the world's most awe-inspiring sailing vessels since 2000. This year, in addition to the annual Curacao Maritime Festival, the island will host the prestigious OPTINAM competition, one of the world's best sailing events for children. Additionally, even if visitors are not able to experience these unique sailing events, Curacao is also home to a variety of sailing charters, catering to every type of tourist.

In the middle of May - just as summer begins on the island of Curacao - a unique sailing event will capture the imagination of the island's visitors. A joint effort of The Royal Dutch Navy - a maritime division established in Curacao - and the Curacao Sail Foundation, the Curacao Maritime Festival highlights some of the world's most fascinating ships. This year, the festival will welcome a number of naval frigates and cutter ships from throughout the region.

The Curacao Maritime Festival was developed as part of the Sail Curacao 500 event in 1999, celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Dutch island. In an ongoing effort to draw attention to Curacao's magnificent harbor and the island's historical link to sailing, the Curacao Sail Foundation was established in 2000. For the last eight years, the Curacao Sail Foundation has organized a number of internationally-recognized sailing events, allowing locals and tourists alike to enjoy the wonders of the Caribbean. Offering hands-on experience like sail training for participants young and old, the Curacao Maritime Festival is a great way for families to enjoy not only some of the world's greatest ships, but also the experience of the open sea. Furthermore, the Curacao Maritime Festival will also sponsor a number of free events throughout the month of May, from special demonstrations to live entertainment.

This year, Curacao will also host the one of the world's most significant sailing events for children. From June 28 until July 6, nearly 200 hundred children representing 25 countries will sail off the shores of Curacao as part of the annual OPTINAM competition. This unique event has traveled throughout the world - visiting Mexico last year, with plans to sail in Zanzibar in 2009 - and highlights the Optimist, a sailing vessel designed for children under the age of fifteen. Though the OPTINAM competition was once reserved for North American countries, this year's competition will feature children from throughout the Americas, as well as the top three teams from the world championships - Italy, France and New Zealand. The OPTINAM sailing competition will also feature a number of exciting events and viewing opportunities for the public.

Even if your family doesn't visit Curacao during one of these exciting events, there are plenty of ways to experience sailing in this Caribbean paradise. There are several sailing organizations and tour operators that allow visitors to spend the day admiring the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean. Furthermore, as there are so many active sailboats and charters in Curacao, visitors will be able to choose the tours that match their interests. Families with children can set sail on vessels that offer a hands-on experience, while couples in search of a romantic experience can be pampered with gourmet food aboard sunset cruises.

With two exciting sailing events coming up this season in Curacao, there has never been a better time to experience the beauty of the Caribbean. Whether your family enjoys the sparkling waters of the Caribbean aboard one of the historic vessels on display at the Curacao Maritime Festival, alongside the incredible children sailing in the OPTINAM competition or as part of a private sailing tour, sailing in Curacao is one of the best ways to enjoy the open water.
About the Author
Justin Burch writes articles about travel in Curacao for the Marriott Resorts.
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