BAHAMAS JUNIOR SAILORS COMPETE AT OPTIMIST WOLRD CHAMPIONSHIP – ITALY
In July, four junior sailors represented The Bahamas at the 51st Optimist World Championship in Lake Garda, Italy. The team consisted of Spencer Cartwright, Cochise Burrows and Benjamin Derbyshire from Nassau along with Branden Sands from Abaco and all trained hard during the year after qualifying by competing in a number of events both locally and abroad.
As newcomers to an event of this magnitude (bar Cartwright who competed at the Worlds last year), our sailors were among the youngest there and their goals were to put in their best performances and learn as much as possible. Just imagine, for several of these youngsters, this was the very first time they had travelled anywhere other than Florida, then think how they felt actually getting to participate in such an important sailing event in Italy no less! There were 259 sailors competing ages 11 to 15 from 58 nations. As Coach Dunkley said, “While our sailors all finished towards the end of this huge and incredibly talented fleet, I could see their improvement each day, which was extremely satisfying. If The Bahamas wants to get back into being competitive at the international level, this is where it starts. For us to really be competitive internationally it is going to take a lot of hard work and dedication by the sailors and coaches and of course money”. As one would expect, the international sailing events are proving to be a great incentive for our youngsters to get into sailing.
Without the financial support of our sponsors and many individuals our sailing program would not be where it is today; catering mainly to youngsters who would not normally have the opportunity to sail and now having them participating in international events like the Optimist World Championship.
The Bahamas Sailing Association thanks all of those who have assisted with its programs, the main ones being Royal Bank of Canada, Bahamas Hot Mix, East Nassau Rotary, KPMG, Palm Cay, Bahamas Ferries, Coca Cola, Odyssey Aviation, Cable Bahamas & Cable Cares, Kerzner Corp., Cardinal Co. Ltd. and Ministry of Sports.
The Optimist class is the largest sailing class in the world with over 200,000 boats sailed globally and brags of having produced the majority of medal winners at the last two Olympics Games. As Coach Dunkley says; “The Bahamas Sailing Association certainly made the right decision a number of years ago by bringing in the Optimist dinghy as the introductory boat for junior sailors. It is affordable, easy to sail, very safe and is by far the most competitive class for juniors in the World”. BSA’s junior sailing program is open to all young Bahamians. Just give them a call at 357-3959. While the above appears serious, the program is focused on teaching sailing to youngsters in a fun way while emphasizing responsibility and discipline.