by Louay Habib
Antigua Sailing Week has adopted The National Sailing Academy as its official charity and though the strapline ‘Where Sailing Comes First’ may appear to some to be stating the obvious, for Antigua Sailing Week 2012’s organisers, it’s an essential part of the strategy.
Antigua Sailing Week 2012
Head of shoreside organisation, Alison Sly-Adams, comments ‘Aside from creating a fantastic experience both on and off the water for participating yachtsmen who attend Antigua Sailing Week 2012, what lies at the core of our objectives is to assist in whatever way we can in getting Antiguans and Barbudans who currently aren’t and want to be, involved in the yachting industry.’
In previous years much of Antigua Sailing Week’s focus locally has been about the parties, and while this is a very important part of any sailing regatta, the 2012 team is shifting the focus so that people can see the opportunities that exist to get involved ‘on the water’.
It was therefore an obvious choice to select the National Sailing Academy (NSA) as the official charity for Antigua Sailing Week 2012. Antigua Yacht Club’s youth sailing programme has in its lifetime spawned some hugely successful Antiguan sailors such as Ashley Rhodes, owner of A & A Rigging and a member of Antigua Sailing Week’s Regatta Organising Committee.
Karl James, a former Olympic sailor, has long been at the head of Antigua Yacht Club’s Youth Sailing Program, is on the Executive of the National Sailing Academy and a member of the Regatta Organising Committee. However, it has until recently remained difficult for youths living outside of English Harbour or those who can’t swim, to have the opportunity to learn to sail.
The National Sailing Academy is a non profit organisation registered in 2010, and is now teaching 150 children per week how to sail. All children in the programme must be able to swim so those who can’t but want to learn to sail are taught to swim by Swalings International Swimming School. As swimming and sailing are now part of the National Curriculum in all Antiguan schools, transport to both swimming and sailing lessons is provided by school buses, and the National Sailing Academy covers the cost of those lessons.
Elizabeth Jordan, President of the National Sailing Academy says, ‘We have now reached capacity at the Antigua Yacht Club, and increasingly it is frustrating that we can’t offer all schools the service. At this point in time 11 schools are part of the programme. It is for that reason that we are working to establish two satellite locations for the National Sailing Academy. One will be located at Jolly Harbour Marina and the second in Parham. This way we will be able to more easily offer lessons to all schools across Antigua. Our ultimate goal is to have 500 children a week learning to sail.'
Funding of the programme is entirely through donations and fundraisers and much of this is generated by the NSA team walking the docks and encouraging visiting skippers to pay US $1 per foot (for the total length of their boat) per year as well to donate boats needed to operate the school. With two training locations to get off the ground, there is a significant need for an increase in funding to assist with payment of teachers and equipment.
Antigua Sailing Week is delighted to be able to assist the National Sailing Academy in reaching its goals. Kathy Lammers, Chairman of the Regatta Organising Committee for 2012 states ‘Clearly the result of the growth in the National Sailing Academy will be more Antiguans and Barbudans out on the water and involved in Antigua Sailing Week in years to come, with a significant increase in competition for all visiting yachtsmen. We at Antigua Sailing Week are delighted to be able to contribute to making that happen.’
For further information about the academy visit www.nationalsailingacademy.org.
Antigua Sailing Week website