History Curaçao Yacht Club The Curaçao Yacht Club was founded in 1962 by a group of close friends. The club was originally founded as a fishing yacht club, being the most active sport practiced at the club to this day. Over the years however, it has grown to more than just a hangout for the fishing boat owners, it has become a social meeting place for the whole family breeding the next generation of fishermen.
The club has grown in members and physical size. Additional piers accommodate the over 80 vessels that call the Curaçao Yacht Club their home. From 9-foot powerboats to 65-foot luxury yachts, not to mention the breathtaking mega yachts that use the Curaçao Yacht Club facilities (visiting yachts) during their stay on the island. The piers at the Curaçao Yacht Club can accommodates yachts over 180 feet in length.
The 500+ Curaçao Yacht Club members enjoy the club for much more than the allocation of their boat. The club is open daily to club members and club members enjoy the post office laidback setting of this familiar and exclusive club to talk sports, politics and of course boating.
On the weekends the club is a family oriented destination. The Curaçao Yacht Club kitchen is popular for its member-friendly prices and superb quality. There is no conch like at the club, and the sirloin is divine. From surf to turf, and even your boat trip necessities, the Curaçao Yacht Club bar strives to cater to the every possible need.
It’s a place to network and informally talk shop while enjoying the breeze and beautiful sights. The newly renovated clubhouse is just one of the major investments the Curaçao Yacht Club board has up their sleeve. Plans are in place and approved by the members to start in the spring of 2011 aiming to make the amenities and facilities the club offers its members even better, and unlike any other on the island.
The Fishing Tournament
In 1966 the club organized its first fishing tournament, and has done so annually ever since in the month of March or April. A handful of boat owners adopted the popular fishing tournament concept from Venezuela and it was an instant formula for success.
The waters didn’t disappoint giving fishermen more than they bargained for. At the time the fish were not released, which made for an exceptionally impressive sight at the end of the day at time of the weigh-in. The 3-day event is an open tournament for members and non-members, attracting fishermen from all over the region. Participants from the United States, Aruba, Bonaire and Venezuela have long marked their calendars annually to partake in this event. Anything goes during the tournament, we’re all neighbors, and we’re all friends.
It’s not a matter of who you are or where you are from; it’s men joint by the sport of fishing. From lucky shirts to lucky shorts, there is nothing like superstition to get the fishermen more excited the day before the tournament. Preparing the bait, talking strategies and discussing routes. It’s 40% fishing and 60% good old ‘ambiente’. No women on board, it’s bad luck, just like bananas seem to be.
One or two weeks prior to the event the warming up tournament weekend is held, to mainly get people ‘warmed up’ and excited, but secondly to give the winning team the esteemed prize of free participation in the official fishing tournament. The official fishing tournament is for boats with a maximum of 4 anglers per boat. The fee is 250 dollar per angler. And therefore a great prize to be won!
The warming up weekend is also a great time to get your boat and gear in order. Check for faulty lines, smoky engines and most importantly getting your team in place. It’s the best practice run any fishermen could ask for, before going for the gold. The warming up participation is free of charge for all anglers.
In 1994 the Curaçao Yacht Club joined the fight for sea life conservation, forming alliances with the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) and the TBF (The Billfish Foundation). The fishing tournament proudly became the ‘Annual International Blue Marlin Release Tournament’. The Curaçao Yacht Club complies with all rules and regulations stipulated by the IGFA for the competition. Ever since then the release of any blue marlin caught during the tournament weighing 300 lbs or less is mandatory.
The tournament has continued to grow to nearly 40 boats competing for the title and bragging rights. Healthy competition between a combination of die hard fishermen that go to all neighboring islands and countries to participate in tournaments, and who take the game of sport fishing very serious; and the hobbyist fishermen that jokingly just casts a line while drinking beer hoping for luck and the catch of the day! The blue marlin record was broken in 1986, when with a 50 lbs line an 803 lbs blue marlin was caught. The record has been challenged, however never broken.
Ambiente is atmosphere, climate; environment, surroundings; ambience, aura
Curaçao Yacht Club is proud to contribute to the research and conservation of sea life by continuously sharing information of billfish spotted, caught and released in the Curaçao waters with the IGFA. Annually all scores of the fishing tournament are sent to the IGFA. In collaboration with IGFA blue marlins safely receive transponders or identification tags for monitoring purposes.
For the fishermen it’s going to get bigger and better. With a dedicated and committed sponsor the club will be able to organize more tournaments throughout the year. Tournaments for other fish, tournaments for ‘father and son’ and tournaments that keep the fishing sport alive throughout the entire year and not only during the annual fishing tournament month. With more local and international marketing and coverage the tournaments will recruit more fishermen locally and abroad to partake in these tournaments. The club and its partner (main sponsor) will become synonymous with fishing tournaments in the region.
The fishing tournament will eventually also expand to the other islands, like Aruba and Bonaire creating a ‘challenge series’ of tournaments. This will add value to the overall competition and attract fishermen for a longer period of time to the region; island hopping while experiencing the uniqueness of each island. Culminating in Curaçao with the masters challenge and grand prize in the series.
Venezuela having previously been leading in the Presidential challenges tournament, offering fishing tournaments in waters with fish galore, which make any rookie seem like a pro, has now been taken off the tournament map, opening the door to Curaçao and the Curaçao Yacht Club to embrace the possibility of creating a challenge series of its own. This will ensure a substantial growth in the number of participants and participating countries, bringing even more international allure to the series of competition. The Curaçao Yacht Club has learnt that the Presidential Challenge organization is very much interested in Curaçao as a new addition to their prestigious series of events, which brings only more possibilities and awareness to Curaçao.
With changing times fishing can nowadays be done with an electronic rod and reel on your Playstation and for the Curaçao Yacht Club it is imperative to cultivate, motivate and inspire the next generation of fishermen. The Curaçao Yacht Club organizes a youth tournament every year on the pier; this takes place during the fishing out at sea. The youth tournament contribution has been sponsored for all willing participants for years now. The sponsor stimulates the fishing by the fishermen to be and even offers a junior angler trophy.
However, as for the annual fishing tournament at sea, the youth tournament cannot solely remain a once yearly event. The competitiveness rises in the challenge to out-fish your opponent. Barracuda tournaments, bottom fishing and other small tournaments within the Spanish Water area make for a safe and easy way of creating a year-round series of events. With more tournaments throughout the year and more funds available for this cause the next generation of fishermen will emerge.
While it’s not only the women that stay behind, they do tend to dominate at the clubhouse during the time the fishermen are at sea. The Curaçao Yacht Club has long strived to engage the women into more activities, and that certainly has priority for the upcoming tournaments. From Zumba class to sand sculpture class, scrap booking and mosaic class, it is important to entertain the women and smaller kids, create the ambiance at the clubhouse rooting for their team, checking out the scoreboard and anxiously awaiting the return of the boats. With more fishing activities year-round the women will also find their ‘place’ within the sport and be even more supportive to the men. Knowing that spending a day at the clubhouse with the girls is going to be that much fun!
The Bar Men
The bar men are the original group of fishermen whom have literally founded the Curaçao Yacht Club. You will find them at the bar every other day and on weekends. They scarcely go out on a boat anymore, they just come to the place that has been their home away from home for so long. The ones that know all the stories, all the records, and can spot a boat a mile away with name, make and all other specs. They are the heart and soul of the club and sporadically on a weeknight you’ll find them telling the stories. Stories that seem to come out of Moby Dick tales and Shark movies, full of excitement and passion. Stories that will be told by generations to come, stories that are forever part of the Curaçao Yacht Club history. A simple thought created a tournament, and a simple tournament created a tradition.