by Daniel Smith
RS:X windsurfer Ricardo Santos has World and Continental honours behind him as well as three Olympic Games representing Brazil. In a career that first started in 1998 Santos, known as Bimba, is Brazil’s windsurfing supremo but his greatest success isn’t on his trophy shelf.
Ricardo Santos (BRA)
Santos runs Bimba Windsurf School in Buzios, Brazil a project that allows young aspiring sailors from poor backgrounds the opportunity to get involved with the sport he loves and cites the achievement of the project as one his best trophies.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, host city of the 2016 Olympic Games, Santos moved to Buzios, 200km away from in 2002 to live and train and this is where it all began.
'I saw some poor guys windsurfing just for fun,' said Santos. 'They never thought of competition, they were just windsurfing with the school equipment. One of them came to me to ask if I knew about his dream and I was thinking that his dream would be to go to Maui or Hawaii, some place like that to wave sail.
'He told me that his dream was to have a Mistral board to train with me because he was always looking at me sailing alone so I gave him a board and this took the attention of the other poor boys in Buzios.'
With growing interest the project came to life in 2005 and has given the young sailors a focus in life with improvements in school and with the prospect of overseas travel they learn Spanish and English.
Buzios hosted the 2009 ISAF Youth Worlds and one of Santos’ young stars Renato Amaral shone on his home waters to take bronze, 'For me I was really proud because they never had the chance to travel and did not have much money. With success they can get money from the government as the best Brazilians. I am very happy as some of my boys are the top youth sailors so maybe it’s one of the best trophies that I have.'
Santos continues to prove that he is one of the top Men’s RS:X performers on the circuit and is in the mix for the honours at ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma – Princess Sofia Mapfre but nothing will be valued any higher than the smiles of young sailors coming through Bimba’s school.
Find out more on Bimba Windsurf website here.