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Supporting the Kidz at Sea Foundation to inspire the next generation of sailors

by Liberty Ash 27 Feb 2019 23:15 PST 26 February - 3 March 2019
38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 2018 - Final day © Laurens Morel / www.saltycolours.com

Sailing is a sport that you can take up at all ages. As we countdown to this year's St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, teenagers from St. Maarten are getting race ready to put their hard training into practice.

A key event on the Caribbean race schedule, the regatta attracts some of the world's elite sailors and crews, with fast and furious racing in monohulls, maxis and multihulls.

Garth Steyn, Co-Founder of The Kidz at Sea Foundation, comments, "To be part of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta means that our up and coming sailors, all aged between 15 and 19, are treated warmly and with welcome. That helps them cross over the feeling of being a newbie outsider to being 'belongers', as we say in the Caribbean. Because the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta attracts professional racers and amateurs in multiple classes, the racing is extraordinary and the visual thrill of sailing amongst the large number of boats is breathtaking a fantastic experience for young sailors to build on."

The Kidz at Sea Foundation is dedicated to providing young people with access to the opportunities that exist within St. Maarten's marine industry, including water sports and other water-based activities. The projects and programs are geared toward teaching participants life skills to help them succeed both on and off the water, developing skills such as team work, communication, accountability and self-reliance.

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Race Director, Paul Miller, comments, "Supporting the Kidz at Sea Foundation encourages young people to get out on the water, which is essential to the future of the sport and the island. We wish them every single success as they put their hard work and training into practice and experience the thrill of racing in our stunning waters."

The two main Kidz at Sea programs are "Build Your Future" and "Zero to Hero". Build Your Future, which is housed within the island's largest public high school Milton Peters College primarily focuses on teaching high school students to build boats using the traditional methods and offers free weekend sailing to any interested student.

The Zero to Hero program focuses on unemployed youth in St. Maarten and is housed in Simpson Bay Marina. The target age group is primarily 17 to 35, with the goal of helping to reduce the shortage of Scuba Diving Masters, Boat Masters and quality Boat Repair Technicians within the local labour pool. The three month, full time training sessions are fully sponsored and offer internationally recognised certifications which enable an individual to seek gainful employment in a career that offers higher earnings and greater potential then they might otherwise be eligible for.

To keep up with the action, follow the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta social channels:

It's the final day before the #serioussailing starts at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. The majority of the 120 boats from over 22 countries have already registered, a seamless process handled by St. Maarten Heineken Regatta's team of volunteers. Skippers leave with Heineken waterproof race packs, filled with complimentary cans of Heineken, and a range of other goodies from the event sponsors including a free SIM card provided by UTS to stay connected.

After completing registration and clearing customs, conveniently located together in Regatta Village, the crews have plenty of time for last minute preparations for tomorrow's racing. With a fresh breeze blowing, many boats have chosen to get out to the race areas for some practice, giving the crew and navigators some vital pre race insight. Race Director Paul Miller and his team of race officers are paying close attention to the weather. The predicted wind conditions for tomorrow are gusts of around 25-28 knots, which is due to drop to around 14-17 knots, as the wind turns to the south. "We're seeing a period of vertical instability in the weather," says Paul Miller "It'll be really exciting out there with waves whipped up to around 1.9m." With all races finishing at the Heineken mark by Simpson Bay, crowds will be gathering to see the fleet streaming back through the lifting bridge after the racing, ready for live music by The Elovaters, delicious food and cold Heineken, as the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Village comes to life as more than 2,000 sailors, supporters, families and friends get together for #seriousfun.

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