Cabarete, Dominican Republic, renowned for its world-famous kiteboarding and surf conditions, initially found its way on the adventure map thanks to windsurfing. According to some, a Canadian windsurfer named Jean Laporte happened upon Cabarete and was astonished by the consistent trade winds. Word spread rapidly from there and before anyone knew it, Cabarete was touted as one of the best windsurf locations in the world. Some old time windsurfers, like “Cabarete Icon” Eric Hertsens, remember it a little differently and say Jean Laporte got all the publicity, but he wasn’t the first windsurfer in Cabarete. Nonetheless, by the late 1980s, Cabarete had hosted its first Professional Windsurfing Association World Cup, which would be the first of many.
Around this time, a German windsurfer, Franz Fix, and opened Happy Surf, one of the first windsurfing schools in town, in front of what is now our Hotel Villa Taina. Formerly Franz’s partners, we split off to open Villa Taina and as Cabarete grew, so did our hotel and the school. Now called Cabarete Windsports Club, the school has been open 26 years, having transformed from a small shack on the beach, into a fully equipped school of windsurf, kitesurf, surf, and SUP. The school also helped raise a strapping young windsurfer, Franz’s 19-year-old son Franzi Fix. This kid has been on the podium more times than we can count and it all started here, at Villa Taina!
Franzi was born to be an ocean worshiper. He and his dad were so inseparable that Franz would give lessons with baby Franzi on his shoulders. Unaware that all of those lessons would sink in, young Franzi surprised everyone when he had his first go at windsurfing at nine years old and already knew how to handle the gear! All those years of watching his dad teach had embedded everything he needed to know to shred! Inspired his dad’s awesome tricks, Franzi was zipping around and throwing his first tricks almost immediately! His first competition, the Pablo Guzman Cabarete Classic, followed two years later and low and behold Franzi placed 3rd in the Mini Junior category out of 20 competitors. Franzi’s competitive side, focus, and determination shone through, and this podium was a sign of things to come.
His first appearance in the Master Of The Ocean competition was in 2013 where he participated in the windsurf team event and the individual expression session. Although he and his team lost both categories, Franzi took this loss as a learning tool, trained hard, and returned the following year to win both the team and the individual categories against athletes from all over the globe! Still, the biggest turning point for Franzi was at the American Windsurf Tour in Santa Cruz, California in 2015. It was Franzi’s first event outside of the Dominican Republic and his first time competing in cold water. He couldn’t feel his hands, which caused him to drop his sail over and over. The wind was light, giving Franzi an advantage as he often practices in the light Cabarete winds. His talent and expertise lead him to a well-deserved 1st place against athletes from each corner of the world. He returned home to an incredibly proud community, and he inspired some of his peers to take up the sport. Suddenly, Franzi had a clan of young locals who felt motivated to try new tricks and ride the waves with him. This moment helped Franzi realize he could indeed make a difference.
Franzi has been known to work with organizations like Beyond Boardshorts, a group of professional windsurfers who run a windsurfing clinic here every year. They bring equipment to give to the locals, which Franzi helps distribute, to make windsurfing more accessible; so they can learn, train and hone their skills. Now there are more locals out than ever taking part in this fantastic sport, and you’ll see them on the water from the moment that first palm tree starts rustling! This initiative has led to an increased turnout for local competitions such as the 2016 Cabarete Classic organized by Cabarete’s first professional slalom windsurfer, Pablito Guzman. Franzi didn’t have a great start to his first few heats, but remained focused and worked his way back up to 3rd place!
Franzi’s great attitude and pure talent make him incredibly respected in Cabarete. That’s why, even though he is very young, we chose to highlight him in our Cabarete Icon series. Franzi currently manages Cabarete Windsports Club while training in not only windsurf, but also kitesurf, surf and SUP, to prepare for next years Master Of The Ocean event! His dreams of becoming a professional windsurfer are starting to fall into place with his sponsorship from Ezzy Sails, and also the 2018 Olympic games in his sights! We couldn’t be more proud of Frazi and we will be cheering him on all the way!
Follow Franzi on his Instagram, where you can also view his other talents, such as a singing and playing the guitar!