In a country where real estate companies often get cast as the baddies, last weekend one such company in Tamarindo, on the northern Pacific coast, made giant strides toward investing in the well-being of its community – and reaped astonishing results.
After the first Century 21 Coastal Estates Charity Surf Classic saw the end of its third and final day, organizer Nicholas Viale, owner of event sponsor Century 21 Coastal Estates, announced the approximate total funds raised for charity: an unprecedented $30,000 in sponsored cash money, $20,000 in donated services and $15,000 in prizes.
The net profits will be distributed among Tamarindo’s Ecological Blue Flag Program, the Tamarindo Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and the Tamarindo Lifeguards.
Even after subtracting production costs, the event is expected to bring in more money to help Tamarindo than any other community activity in the history of the town – and it came from businesses in an industry often criticized for profiteering and contributing to overdevelopment.
“I was amazed by everything about this: the money raised, the sponsor support, the surfers,” Viale said. “I feel that we had a real community spirit by the end of the (event).
I’ve never, since moving to Tamarindo, been as proud to be a member of this community.”
As for the surfers, both novices and professionals surfed at the Tamarindo river mouth each day starting at 7 a.m. Competitors included athletes from the National Surf Circuit, who entered at the behest of Costa Rica Surfing Federation President Antonio Pilurzu to draw more attention to the efforts of the organizers and to the beach itself.
The winner of the event, reigning National Champion Isaac Vega, didn’t have to travel far to enter the competition; he lives in nearby Villarreal and surfs Tamarindo regularly.
Why would a surfer who is now on a career track making a living from surfing enter a contest in which the grand prize – a Nature Air Bocas del Toro weekend and a surfboard – though wonderful, does nothing to improve his professional standing?
“I wanted to enter this contest and do well in it because I want to do something for Tamarindo, since this is my home. Of course I’m happy I won, and in doing that I helped my beach, too,”Vega said.
Other competitors included reigning Junior Champion Jason Torres, former National Champion Nino Myrie, National Junior Women’s Champion Lupe Gullucio and many others among the country’s surfing talent.
Lou Maresca,National Masters Champion and head of the Tamarindo Surfrider Foundation, announced that the money his organization receives will go toward watertesting kits that will check the Tamarindo and Langosta beaches regularly to ensure the safest, cleanest ocean possible.
The Tamarindo Blue Flag Committee, headed by Juanita Hayman, will use its endowment to maintain the prestigious ecological award the beach recovered last year.
Along with Century 21 Coastal Estates, real estate companies and developers banded together with environmental organizations in an expo tent on site. Gabriela Salgado, representing event sponsor The Oaks condominium project, said her company came because “we wanted to be here for the community. Our clients are going to be here for a long time, so we want to offer them a healthy beach and support the surfers.”
“I was really surprised to see the community finally come together for a cause that directly benefits everyone,” she said. “The most valued possession here is not real estate – it’s the beach. This is why is people come here, this is why people surf here, and I think today was an example of recognizing the importance of taking care of the beach.”