On Top of the World
Sarah-Quita Offringa (ARU-91 Starboard / MauiSails) is just 15 years old, and in her second season on tour, is ranked number 2 in the women’s world freestyle championship. It was no mean feat that she recently beat long-reigning multiple world champion Daida Moreno (E-64 Mistral / North), and it looks like she’s gonna be on the scene for many years to come. So, it’s about time we caught up with her then…
A unique windsurfing style, a cool Afro hair-do and a bright future. Sarah-Quita’s from Aruba in the Dutch Antilles, has only been sailing for 5 years, and despite her success on the full-time professional tour is still at school!
Based at the famous ’Huts’ beach in Aruba, Offringa is one of about 10 high-level freestylers on an Island more famous for it’s windsurf racing heritage. One of these tricksters is her brother Quincy, who made his PWA debut at the Fuerteventura PWA grand Slam in July.
Despite her tender years, Sarah-Quita is already putting something back into the sport. ‘Every Saturday we have a kids program at the AAV center, situated at the Huts. We teach the local kids from 2 till 4’ Considering her status she modestly adds that ‘Right now my brother is the best freestyler in Aruba, and does practically all the main moves. I really hope he’s going to be one of the top pro-riders someday soon’
What’s pushed her to such a high standard so soon I wonder? All becomes clear when she explains how girls and boys were mixed in the Aruba Hi Winds and Bonaire Regatta’s, meaning often she was the only girl. ‘For some reason I wanted to keep up with the boys, and then when I started freestyling, I wanted to keep up with my brother!’ It looks like the Super-X and Slalom 42 fleets better watch out next season then.
I also heard 2006’s brightest new talent was an excellent swimmer, as well as being musical. Would she prefer choosing the path of Olympic athlete or concert pianist rather than being pro windsurfer? Her answer confirms exactly how stupid she must think I am. ‘What? Swimming is too serious. You can't go anywhere in a pool. You stay in the same lane for like 2 hours! I want to be my own boss. With windsurfing you go places, and you meet so many people. It's way more fun! And as for playing the piano, it's not a serious thing. My dad plays it really well, and I also want to play it well. But concerts? I don't think so...’ OK. That’s got that issue straight then…
After a great debut in 2005, how did she approach this season? What could she realistically aim to achieve? ‘I wanted to do even better than last year and to try and make a top 3 spot in the overall rankings. Have I exceeded these expectations? YESS!! In Pozo I became 5th, which I thought was all right, and then WHAM! A first in Fuerte. So I'm really happy about that… I wanted to show the people what I could do… yes, I've always been competitive, and I’ve done a lot of competitive sports, like swimming, (which I still do by the way), athletics, karate, tennis… I like to be challenged and to challenge other people’
Only the future can reveal if one of professional windsurfing’s most positive characters will stay at the top of her game. One thing that seems guaranteed is Sarah-Quita’s mature and responsible attitude to the sport. Quizzed on what windsurfing holds for her when she’s done at school, she simply says ‘I want to do more for windsurfing... but don't know how yet. Time will tell.’ We can only thank her for an outlook as beyond her years as her sailing ability.
PWA /Brian McDowell