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Living the Fan Experience at the IWT World Cup in Chile

IWT Chile Winner's Circle

Athletes: Felix Bermudez, Nelson Perez, and Charlie Rovira competed in the 2024 IWT Chile World Cup in the Challenger and Master Divisions. Charlie Rovira ranked 5th in the Masters Division.

We took a leap of faith when we chose to continue on the International Windsurfing Tour, and travel to Chile. According to Google, the town of Matanzas has a population of 530 people. We knew the water was cold, and some rocks would be involved, We knew the tournament was called the “Inferno” (Spanish for Hell) and the beach was called “Matanzas” (Spanish for Killings). However, beyond these facts we had little to no information. Still, we were open to experience something new, and travel farther than we ever had for the love of windsurfing!

We picked up a 4 x 4 truck from the rental car company, loaded our gear, and departed from Santiago. It was a 2.5 hour drive past rolling desert mountains and farmland, before arriving to the misty town of Matanzas.

We met up with the organizers of the IWT event at the Surazo Hotel. The vibe was very hip. We immediately ran into friends from the worldwide tribe of windsurfers, and felt at home at “Al Agua” Windsurf Shop. The hotel restaurant had a modern vibe, the beach bar scene was happening with bonfires at sunset. The waves were ripping, wind was blowing, and we were happy we trusted our IWT event organizers with picking another epic international windsurf destination.

Windsurf gear was readily available for purchase, as well as some much needed accessories to make the most of our visit. The guys at the shop, Tato and Marino, filled us in on what to expect. They shared the GPS coordinates for the local spots, and gave us plenty of insider info for our windsurf adventures. We were set.

Our first stop was Topocalma Beach. This destination is aprx. 40 minutes outside of Matanzas on a twisted mountain road. The 4×4 car rental is a must if you’re going to visit this location.

The dense Pacific wind and ocean currents roll down and around the geography. Hold on tight, wind in this location can top 40 knots, and waves at low tide are big and fast.

For the windsurf fan, being in this this exotic and remote location, with 30+ of the greatest windsurfers on the planet was an unexpected treat. They put on quite a show. We watched our favorite windsurfers speed down the line, and launch into takas, goiters, and aerials. At one point, I wiped out, and when I crawled onto shore, I was surprised to get a pep talk from none other than pro-windsurfer Sarah Hauser herself. Wow!

In case you’re not a pro-windsurfer, there are options for everyone. Next to this incredible location, is an extremely peaceful river complete with swans and heavenly landscape. There are other spots too for intermediate and beginner windsurfers. In the town of La Boca, there is a boat dock (La Lancha) with some gusty winds, flat water, and small windsurf school. There is also a fabulous spot where the river connects with the Ocean. It’s also called La Boca. Here people practice windsurf and wingfoil. All of the locations are beautiful, serene, and enjoyable for practicing the sport.

Our next sailing destination was right at Matanzas Beach. This trendy little seaside town is developing its own unique style. The boardwalk has a direct view of the local break with a variety of artisans and coffee shops.

The dramatic rock formations of Matanzas are an impressive seascape for even the most seasoned traveler. Strong winds pick up in the late afternoon and blow across the rock formations, provoking a long port-tack wave to form on a perfect black sand beach. The town has kilometers of sandy beach, so even a downwind washout will land you in safe territory. Still, the wave is tricky with low wind and current on the inside, as well as a wave with several sections. Reading the wave can be challenging for sailors new to Matanzas. Once again, I got the extra fan experience. As I was warming up to the beach and its unique characteristics, pro-windsurfer Federico Morisi gave me coaching and a motivational pep talk. It was another surreal moment.

Photo Credit: Fish Bowl Diaries

The town of Matanzas has embraced windsurf culture. Bleachers were set up during the event, and people from all over the region came out to celebrate. The local ministers produced a special ceremonial opening to the tournament, which included traditional dance, food, and an adorable presentation with the local children. We mixed and mingled with the event participants.

What was it like to watch the IWT event live? The live stream team did an amazing job catching the event and adding graphics and replays. Still, there is nothing quite like seeing and feeling the event in person—the drama of the wipeouts, the reactions from the competitors on the beach, and the cheers from the spectators.

We experienced 12 days of windsurfing action with young talent and defending champions, showcasing what is possible on this magical beach in Chile. For me, the “ultimate fan experience” was watching the live stream and simultaneously seeing the action on the beach from the Surazo Beach Bar with cold beers and food. It was a really enjoyable place to be with the travel buddies.

It was incredible to finish off the evenings with more behind-the-scenes commentating from none other than windsurfing personality Kai Katchedorian. I loved hearing about what the conditions were like directly from windsurf legend Bernd Roedinger or hearing the up-close stories from Paul at Fish Bowl Diaries Photography.

I got insights about windsurfing from Coco Faveau, tapping into her tips for being a fearless and talented windsurfer. I was inspired by riders like Alexa Kiefer, Pauline Katz, and Dominica Osman, who didn’t think twice about launching into huge waves.

We were also able to buy and sell equipment. Being from an island, I find it hard to get certain gear brands. Likewise, others felt the same about our gear. Overall, we were able to pick up a new board and sell some sails. It was an added bonus when our favorite athletes personalized the board with autographs!

Being around the most talented windsurfers inspires me to overcome my windsurf plateau. With each fearless adventure, I was richly rewarded. I wasn’t rewarded with money or prizes but with unforgettable life experiences. Have you ever windsurfed with a flock of swans? Have you ever sailed past a sea lion? Even hiking into the forest on the no-wind days was a rejuvenating experience. Matanzas is wild, natural, and beautiful. The IWT brought me to this gorgeous place. I would have never found it on my own, and I’m immensely grateful for that. If you can join the International Windsurfing Tour, do it! You won’t regret it!

Tips for Traveling to Matanzas

  • Brush up on your conversion tables. It’s kilos, kilometers, celsius and Chilean pesos here
  • You’ll need a European adapter for your plugs
  • If you are going to rent a car, splurge for the 4×4
  • The water is cold, you’ll need a thick wetsuit to really enjoy sailing here. 5/3 seems to be the standard
  • Consider getting a wetsuit hoodie. It will keep your extremities from losing heat
  • Don’t go from cold water to a hot shower. It’s crazy bad for your circulation

Windsurf Spots in the Area

**Yellow triangles indicate windsurf locations but aren’t specific GPS locations. If you plan to travel to these destinations, we recommend you obtain accurate GPS coordinates.

Windsurf LocationDifficultyComments
Matanzas Beach****Tricky wave, but it’s all sand so give it a try.
Roca Cuadrada*****Epic long wave in a desolate stretch of beach. If you break your gear here it’s going to be a long walk.
Brisas Beach***Easily accessible beach close to the town of Matanzas. Used as an access to get to Roca Cuadrada. Plenty of waves relatively close to shore.
La Boca*Easy learning location for windsurf and wing foil. Locals will charge for beach access, but there is another route with public beach access.
El Muelle de la Lancha**Another flat water location for beginners. There is a local windsurf school at this location. Wind is very gusty, and comes in at multiple angles.
Pupuya***Known more for kitesurfing.
Playa Topocalma***Beautiful beach with both an advance windsurf spot, and a beginner windsurf spot. Popular for camping.

Photo Credit: Fish Bowl Diaries

Check out more Windsurfing in Matanzas Beach

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About the Author

Irene Kravitz is a writer, web developer, and event planner. She coordinates events on the island of Puerto Rico, and facilitates people of all ages learning water sports.

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