Community, Culture and a Party in Paradise
Accompanied with a ear to ear smile. Like the one we wear when we haven't seen a great friend in some time.
It is the vibe that this event brings. To every guest that walks through the doors of the Villa Cofresi.
The Rincon Beach Boy. With deep roots tied to the Puerto Rican community and culture. And an event that reminds us to enjoy ourselves to the fullest with great friends, new and old. It is one of those events that words, photos or videos never do it justice. It is one that has to be seen in person.
I'll do my best to shed some light on this event and the community that makes these events go.
The event itself, supports a local foundation, Salón Angelitos de Amor / The Angels of Love Hall. Helping to raise funds and awareness for ensuring children and young people with Down Syndrome receive the same educational opportunities, recreational and social rights as other community youth.
Seeing this children around the event and on the stage. Is a beautiful reminder of what this event truly is all about.
The event has a long history in the sport of stand up paddling. With this year being the tenth year. And why it bears the name Rincon Beach Boy SUP Race X.
However the event stood strong. And after the year hiatus, it came back and lived up to its reputation. With over 260 participants. Of all ages and ability levels. All taking to the water to achieve personal goals. But stand side by side to help a town rebuild and community raise money.
The race itself covering all the divisions. The Keiks or groms or kids, depending on where in the world you reside. Stole the show as always. Lined up waiting for the starters call. As if they have been in this position hundreds of times before. They charged through the modified course meandering around buoys. And playing to the crowds cheers. The smiles and celebrations reflected the excitement for the accomplishment. And set the tone for entire day.
The eight mile course would be next off the line. A paddle that brings us up the scenic Rincon coast. One that tests any paddler with a love for surfing. As we pass by world renown surf breaks such as Tres Palmas, Marias and ending at Domes. And on this day. A fun ground swell filled the spots with surfers and breaking waves.
The three mile was next to go. And in true fashion was loaded with excited paddlers. Some making the water to their first time. While others seasoned to these type of events. They set out on a shorter course, one that kept the paddlers away from the potential interaction with the surf. But just as enjoyable and scenic.
Both the length courses finish at the beach after passing by the Villa Cofresi and the cheers from the crowd and support of the announcers. Greeted on the sand with hugs, high fives, a medal and ice cold water.
In most cases this is where the events begin to slow down and people head off on their own way.
Not in Puerto Rico.
This is where the event truly shines. I do not know the actual time of when then fun began. As I do not think it ever stopped from when I put my board in the water and then when I returned. Music singing through the speakers. Laughs. Hugs. It was all there.
Around the 12 pm hour, the local culture steps into full swing.The buffet line opens. A meal that was the perfect solution post race. One that filled the belly and provided the perfect recovery and prep to the afternoon of fun ahead.
Echoing through the hallways of the Villa Cofresi the sounds of Puerto Rico are heard. And then a conga line of dancers. All dressed to the fullest, representing the history of the island. Pulling spectators from the crowd to join in on the fun. Chanting and singing in unison.
As the day rolls on conversations. Live music. Dance parties all ensue. The awards ceremony are saved until the early evening. Allowing everyone to enjoy their time together a celebrate an event helping to build a community.
The awards, always providing hand crafted trophies and local gifts. Acknowledging everyone. But the Keikis once again steal the show. With their full sized smiles. Taking the stage with paddles in hand. As if to show the rest of us how to win.
This event is always a reminder to me of what this sport truly means. And it is why I continue to come back. It also helps me visit the amazing island of Puerto Rico. One loaded with breath taking adventures and beaches that seem to latch on to me in a way, that makes boarding the plane almost impossible.
If Puerto Rico is not on your list of destinations. Hopefully this will help add it.