Sporting ladies listen up, if you’re looking for an inspiring role model then look no further than Aruba’s windsurfing champ Sarah-Quita. She’s trailblazed her way through a male-dominated sport to become the Queen of Freestyle, winning the world championships no less than 14 times. The final in our ‘Interviews to Inspire’ series from Aruba, here’s how Sarah-Quita turned life on the beach into an inspiring journey and career.
How did you get into windsurfing journey?
I started windsurfing when I was about 9 years old. My parents just made my brother and I practice as many sports as possible. I was young and couldn’t lift the sail so I didn’t really take to windsurfing that well. Until a year later I saw my brother competing at the Aruba hi winds. The atmosphere at the beach with so many international people was amazing. After that I decided to give it another try. My mom entered me for the next contest in Bonaire. We travelled there with a big group of kids, and to this day that was still one of the best trips ever staying in a house together and sharing sessions on the water. I have been hooked on windsurfing ever since.
Did you ever think you’d become a world champion?
There wasn’t a moment where I said I wanted to become a world champion. What I do remember is, watching the professionals competing in Bonaire for the first time, and telling myself that I wanted to do the same. I just wanted to train hard so I could perform as well as they did. I was really young when I started the tour and I just loved the fact that I was travelling to far away places and sailing with the best in the world. And I think to this day, that’s still my motivation. Travelling with the best in the world and just improving as much as I can.
How has Aruba inspired you?
Aruba is windy practically all year long and the water is shallow which makes it easy to get on and off the board. It is the place to be to learn how to windsurf. Later on, when I started travelling I think that my upbringing in Aruba has helped me a lot to do well abroad. Aruba is a melting pot of cultures and growing up on the island we speak three languages, Dutch, English and Papiamento, then you also get Spanish and French in high school. We’re very used to visitors so we all grow up being quite open and welcoming to other people. I think this has helped me to enjoy travelling as I adapt quickly and can appreciate different cultures.
Any fond moments?
We’re all so connected and distracted lately. Windsurfing forces you to be in the moment. The moment you’re not concentrating and adapting to the conditions you’ll find yourself catapulting into the water. It’s a difficult sport, but the satisfaction of performing a new trick that you have been practicing for a while is like no other. It gives me an adrenaline rush that keeps me coming back for more.
How does it feel to represent Aruba and women in sport on the world stage?
Well like any other Aruban, I’m quite patriotic. I just love showing and proving that as an island we have a lot to offer even on the world stage.
We’re all so connected and distracted lately. Windsurfing forces you to be in the moment
Your career highlight?
There have been a couple of highlights. But I think winning my first wave contest in Maui back in 2016 was definitely a highlight. Besides that I’m pretty excited about the movie I made together with Julian Robinet. We travelled for 8 months and put together a nice movie showing my life as a female windsurfer travelling the world. Can you imagine a Caribbean girl paddling through icebergs in Iceland !? ( Hard to believe, but true!) Check it out on vimeo: Cabeibusha, the curly gem.
Your greatest challenge?
I’m working on it at the moment. I have been putting my focus on wave sailing. Aruba doesn’t provide too many waves during the year, so I didn’t grow up with it and am still intimidated by big waves. So that is quite challenging. But I have been dedicating my travels to places like Australia and cape town, and I hope to slowly get better and better at wave riding.
How does Aruba standout as a great destination for an active lifestyle?
Well it’s always summertime in Aruba so it encourages outdoor activities. We’re surrounded by gorgeous Caribbean water which makes it super appealing for watersports. But there’s a ton of other things you can do like, mountain biking (I know right!? I did a trail the other day which was too cool!) horseback riding, hiking on the east coast, cave exploring. You name it!
Any favourite windsurfing spots in Aruba?
Fishermen’s huts is a great spot to learn how to windsurf. Besides that, my favourite spot is called Barcadera. The wind is a bit stronger and the conditions are more challenging which allows you to go for bigger jumps.
Your favourite way to relax?
I think I really like getting lost on you tube searching for new music. Swimming, or just floating underwater is pretty relaxing. What? No Yoga? No. I don’t do yoga.
Any advice for women who want to become a world sporting champion too?
Well, I think it’s important to find the right people around you to help you reach your goals. You can go further together. And I think it’s important to enjoy the process and not only focus on the end goal.
You get to travel the world to compete, but what does it feel like when you finally come back to Aruba?
Yes travelling is great, but when I come back to Aruba I can finally completely unwind. My family is in Aruba and everything is so easy going on the island. I especially notice the moment you walk out of the airport and feel the breeze caressing your face. That’s Dushi Aruba welcoming you!