Y2A BY ELLEN BIRRELL
Junior Sailing Programs
Weigh In from Around the Caribbean:
Grenada and St. Kitts & Nevis
Youth2Adult — Y2A — is a series of articles celebrating sailing’s role in youth development for Caribbean children.
To ring in the New Year, Y2A reached out to junior sailing programs around the Caribbean to get their reports on 2019. Last month we heard from St. Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barths. This month, we have reports from Grenada and St. Kitts & Nevis.
Grenada: Planning Junior Regattas
At the helm of the Grenada Sailing Association are James Benoit, president, and Robbie Yearwood, vice-president. The GSA held a fall meeting with the Grenada Olympic Committee, where they shared their plan of activities for 2020 as well as the challenges and opportunities GSA faces. According to the GSA Board: “In Grenada, there are several junior sailing clubs holding Saturday morning sailing sessions. Coaches get the kids out sailing, offering guidance and assistance. Our plan includes holding quarterly junior sailing regattas organized by Petite Calivigny Yacht Club at Le Phare Bleu Marina.” PCYC Commodore John Whitsett confirms that the club has provided for additional funds to be made available and events planned to further develop Grenada’s junior programs.
Among Grenada’s junior sailing clubs are Woburn Wind Warriors, based at Island View restaurant in the south coast village of Woburn. The Grenada Yacht Club, based in St. George’s Lagoon, has temporarily discontinued Saturday youth sailing because of yacht club renovations. The Gouyave Sailing Club based in Gouyave, on the west coast, offers Saturday sailing. L’Esterre Junior Sailing based in Carriacou has, sadly, discontinued formal youth sailing classes due to lack of support. Jason Fletcher, sponsor of youth Learn to Sail and competitive coaching over many years and owner of Grenada Marine in St. David’s Har
bour on Grenada’s southeast coast, had this to say: “The sailing has fallen off for now, but, we will get back to it!”
Grenadian sailor Kevin Banfield, recipient of a World Sailing Coaching Scholarship, is currently working in Canada for Canadian Olympic sailor Terry Nielson. Nielson started Grenada’s Gouyave Sailing School and Mosquito boat-building, where Kevin got his start in sailing. As of this writing, Kevin plans to return for Grenada Sailing Week in January.
The GSA Board intends to procure Technical Training for Coaches from World Sailing to supplement the junior sailing work started by Kevin Banfield and to ensure a capacity to continue things when Kevin is off island. By completing this in early 2020, GSA sees a real chance to regenerate junior sailing in a big way.
St. Kitts & Nevis: Positive Opportunities
From St. Kitts & Nevis, Mark Theron reports, “Nevis is progressing nicely with sail development and it is very positive. We are finally all set with our Sail to a Brighter Future not-for-profit organization (http://sailtoabrighterfuture.com), and are looking toward raising funds to support the Nevis Yacht Club youth sailing program with a full-time instructor.
“We have also recently had a family move to Nevis whose son, Keaman Floyd, is a very competitive Opti racer. A US citizen formerly residing in the Bahamas, at ten years old, he eats and sleeps racing and sailing. This has galvanized some of our local sailors to want to race. He’s half the size of the kids from Antigua, yet he came in fourth competing against them at St. Maarten’s SOL regatta, clenching fourth place overall. We also have a very petite girl who is as passionate — Marialena. Her family is from Puerto Rico. Tiny but competitive. Another inspirational kid.
“We had two entrants in the Caribbean Sailing Association’s Caribbean Dinghy Championship, three in St. Maarten’s SOL regatta, and one in a Puerto Rican regatta. Where did this all of a sudden come from? Hope we can build on this in time to come.
“We are in need of new board members at the NYC and will see where this leads.”
Tim Cross, the CSA’s Youth and Development Committee Member, says, “It is great to see how the St. Kitts Nevis Sailing Association is recognizing positive opportunities to showcase sailing as an accessible sport by providing the opportunity for young sailors with motivation to compete in regional events. We look forward to seeing an even bigger team enjoying taking part in regattas during 2020.”
Since 2014, Ellen Birrell & partner Captain James Hutchins have hosted 68 six-day High Adventure Scouting USA charters. Last summer, with support from the University of the Virgin Islands, they introduced STEM citizen-science turtle counts and benthic surveys to Scouts onboard S/V Boldly Go.
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