Cabarete, Dominican Republic is home to a host of talented folks. We started our “Cabarete Icons” series so we could share some of their radical stories. While telling a few of these tales, we realized that the popularity of windsurfing in the 80s guided and interconnected many of our youth. One young windsurfer, in particular, grew into a respected surfer, kiter, and Master Of the Ocean Champion. These days, Luciano Gonzalez is more than one of Cabarete’s most respected waterman. He is also the successful entrepreneur behind LG Surf Camp. This is his story.
Luciano’s life is full of color — the turquoise ocean, the golden sand, and the deep green of the palms. Yet, his days weren’t always so bright. Unfortunately, at a young age, Luciano lost both of his parents. This tragedy left an empty, painful space in his heart, so Luciano turned to the ocean. His Abuela, who lived next to the sea, looked after him. The expanse of salty water and an old broken windsurfing board he used as a bodyboard offered the young survivor the escape he needed.
When Luciano grew older, he worked at an all inclusive resort. His job was cleaning chairs and watersports equipment alongside Cabarete Icon, Wilson Tavares. Luckily, his managers allowed Luciano to practice on the windsurfing equipment. Always a quick learner, young Luciano became an impressive windsurfer in no time at all! That confidence ignited his dreams of one day becoming a champion! It wasn’t long before he bumped into a man who would one day help make those dreams a reality. Marcus Bohm, another of our Cabarete Icons and future founder of Master Of The Ocean.
Luciano would often see Marcus out kitesurfing. At the time, the young Bavarian was attempting to self-learn the brand new sport. As such, Luciano would often help Marcus land his kite at the shores of the resort. Not long after, Marcus offered Luciano a job at his watersports school. Chasing his dreams of becoming a professional windsurfer, Luciano declined. But, his co-worker and best buddy, Wilson, pounced on the opportunity. Many of his friends made the switch to the kiteboarding, but Luciano stuck to his windsurfing sails. That is until two French kitesurfers showed him the height of the possibilities. They were jumping up into the sky 20 meters, much higher than was possible with windsurfing. That’s when Luciano realized he wanted to get high.
With his new found love of kitesurfing, Luciano finally decided to take Marcus up on the job offer. For two years he worked there and practiced kiteboarding in his spare time. With the help of his jefe, Luciano’s talent was soon spotted by companies like Takoon, Gotcha and even Red Bull. He was living the dream! Competing around the world with his fellow hometown riders Wilson and Susi Mai. These fantastic opportunities made unforgettable memories! One of which is Luciano’s proudest moment where he took 3rd place in the Red Bull King Of The Air event in Hawaii in 2003. There were 15m waves and that experience provided him a newfound respect for the ocean and its power. Over time, the sport evolved from big air to more technical handle passes, which Luciano didn’t enjoy as much. He also grew tired of all the traveling and longed for his home paradise, Cabarete.
These feelings prompted Luciano to think more about the long-term. So he started a clothing company. Unfortunately, the business didn’t quite work out, but as they say: When one door closes, another opens! Between all the kitesurfing competitions and traveling, Luciano kept fit by surfing the ever-consistent waves of Playa Encuentro. He soon realized that this was his true love and began working with Swell Surf Camp. Meanwhile, Marcus fired up Master Of The Ocean event. Athletes from all over the globe came to Cabarete to compete in the multi-discipline event. Luciano took home the title not only once, but four times!
With all this experience under his belt, Luciano decided to open his own surf school and camp, LG Surf Camp. The beach is his office, and his passion for helping others and sharing the stoke is admirable. Never forgetting his humble beginnings, Luciano is a role model for the young locals. His past teaches that you can take your life into your own hands and shape it into your wildest dreams. Thank you, Luciano, for being such an inspiration.
You will find Luciano every morning at Encuentro Beach. He posts a photo of the waves as a sort of surf report every morning on his Facebook page. He is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, so if you’re passing by, say hey! Tell him we sent you.