Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Event: Optimist World Championships 2012 Comments from Coach Robert Dunkley

Congratulations to Spencer Cartwright, Paul de Souza and Alande Forbes for qualifying and representing The Bahamas at the Optimist World Championship 2012.

This was the first time The Bahamas has participated in this event - an event for kids up to the age of 15. It was certainly an eye-opener for our three young sailors who are regarded as the best in this country in this age group. They are all young (12 and 13 years old) and have two to three years left to compete in this class. Although their final placements (171st by Spencer Cartwright being our best) in this very large and talented fleet (230 boats from over 50 countries) were a long way from medaling, they learnt a great deal, especially about sailing tactics and the importance of superior boat speed. For sure, they now know what it takes to perform at this level.

We look forward to sending a team to these Worlds every year now and improving upon our performance each year. As their coach, I am very proud of what they have been able to accomplish in only 9 months of training which has been on a very limited budget. I have been impressed with their enthusiasm and commitment to our intensive training program - an average of 4 days per week during these months with physical training on their own five days per week. As they said the other day; "Coach, I know we can do better. We just have to work harder and smarter and we will make it to the top".

If someday we are to have the Bahamas qualify again to participate in Sailing at the Olympic Games, we have to spend time and money coaching our kids as young as the age of 8 and getting the top performers off to major international events on a regular basis like the Optimist North American Championships, US Nationals and Optimist World Championship. Getting us back in the Olympics is one of the goals of the Bahamas Sailing Association which we are sure can be accomplished with the continued enthusiasm of our young sailors and support of our sponsors, for which the Association is extremely grateful.

Did you know:
-  The Bahamas has not competed in the Sailing Olympics since 1996?
-  The first Olympic medal as well as the first Olympic Gold medal The Bahamas ever won was in Sailing?

This is a country with one of the most ideal sailing conditions in the World and one that claims Sailing to be it's National Sport.
Through the BSA, The Bahamas has been working to be back on top in the sailing world and we have a few great young sailors now moving in that direction.

Spencer Cartwright sailing downwind at the 2012 Opti Worlds.
(Photo: Robert Dunkley)

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