The excellent windsurfing conditions in Vieux Fort, and the natural beauty of the south of St. Lucia, are the subject of a BBC television sports programme due to be aired later this year in dozens of countries worldwide.
Excitement ran like a ripple along the beach in Vieux Fort last Monday, as word spread of the presence of Caribbean King of the Waves Brian `Irie Man` Talma. The world-class windsurfer and international sports celebrity visited the south of St. Lucia for a three-day photo-shoot with renowned action photographer Alex Williams and television sports producer Cliff Webb. Several holidaying windsurfers took to the water to catch some close-up windsurfing action with the popular Barbadian professional. His brother Kevin Talma put on a display of stunts and jumps with a kitesurfer, while Brian sparkled on a windsurfer.
The Talma brothers also took the opportunity to catch up with old windsurfing buddy Cécile Wiltshire, owner of The Reef Beach Café and Club Mistral St. Lucia. Ms.Wiltshire was instrumental in finding the necessary sponsorship to bring Brian `Irieman` Talma, Kevin Talma and their camera-crew over from Barbados for the promotion of windsurfing in St. Lucia. At very short notice, Kabran Hotel, Paradise Springs, Moncherry Car Rentals, the Southern Tourism Development Corporation, The Reef Beach Café, Club Mistral St. Lucia, Caribbean Star, the St. Lucia Tourist Board and the Windward and Leeward Brewery all pitched in to help promote St. Lucia as the great (water)sports holiday destination that it is. The stills shot this week on the sea at Anse de Sable beach, LaTille Waterfalls near Micoud and at Balenbouche Estate in Piaye, will be used for a range of promotional articles in various windsurfing magazines worldwide. The video footage is for an edition of `Wild Spirits`, a magazine-format programme which profiles top sports competitors and events from all corners of the globe. `Wild Spirits` will be distributed by the BBC and broadcast in some 100 countries worldwide.
In 1990, Ms. Wiltshire was instrumental in organising the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Windsurfing Championships held at Anse de Sable in Vieux Fort, where Brian Talma emerged as champion of the Heineken Slalom Classic event.
Four years later, Brian Talma was awarded the Barbados Service Star for his efforts in promoting and developing Barbados as a windsurfing holiday destination. He was one of the youngest ever recipients of this prestigious award. His dedicated and innovative work has helped to place Barbados high on the world map of sports tourism in general, and windsurfing tourism in particular.
Sports tourism is an important niche in the holiday industry and one which St. Lucia is beginning to discover. First-class conditions for windsurfing, kitesurfing, golfing, diving, cricket and other sports are increasingly important factors in helping to sway visitors to choose for St. Lucia as a holiday destination. This is becoming especially clear in the south of the island, where since last year, the efforts of Club Mistral St. Lucia and F2 have injected much-needed activity and resources into the Vieux Fort area. Local hotels and guesthouses, restaurants, bars, taxi drivers, beach vendors and other small business owners are profiting this tourist season from the presence of German, French, Austrian, Swiss, Belgian, Dutch, Scandinavian, Polish, Hungarian, Canadian and American windsurfing enthusiasts.