Bahamas National Sailing School - Detailed History
The First Five Years – 2004 to 2008
- November - BSA’s National Sailing School was formed and officially recognized by Ministry of Sports.
- BSA started its first Summer Sailing Camp with 60 students in attendance over an eight-week period. 40 of these students were from Government Junior High Schools.
- BSA sent its first team of Advanced Junior Laser Sailors (1 male and 1 female) to the ISAF Youth World Championships - South Korea.
- BSA held the first Optimist Junior National Championship in Montagu Bay - 39 juniors competed.
- Junior sailors for the first time competed in the Orange Bowl Junior Sailing Regatta in Miami, one of the largest junior sailing events in the world with sailors from over 20 countries.
- BSA began a more serious five-day per week junior sailing program in addition to the Summer Sailing Camp. As part of this BSA:
- Encouraged the Ministry of Sports to start an island wide learn to swim program for government students.
- Hired two full-time internationally accredited sailing instructors to run the year round program with a focus on bringing sailing to the Government schools and underprivileged kids.
- BSA expanded its program to the Family Islands by:
- Donating 8 sailing Prams (similar to the Optimist) to Long Island Association and running a clinic for 25 juniors in Long Island.
- Holding junior races in the Prams in front of the viewing grandstand during the Long Island Sloop regatta.
- BSA hosted the Optimist National Junior Championships for the second year in Montagu Bay - 45 competitors (10 from Long island).
- BSA expanded its Advanced Junior Laser Program by acquiring three Lasers and increasing coaching time.
- For the second year one of the juniors represented The Bahamas at the ISAF Youth Worlds in the Laser Class in Waymouth, England.
- BSA continued its previously established year round and summer camp programs as well as the hosting of the Optimist Junior National Championship.
- BSA encouraged and assisted with the start-up of junior sailing programs in Abaco and Grand Bahama.
- By the end of 2007 the optimist Fleet in The Bahamas totaled 84 boats, making it the most dominant sailing class in The Bahamas (Abaco 8, Grand Bahamas 14, Long Island 8 and New Providence 54).
- BSA ran more sailing clinics in the Family Islands and arranged for the junior sailors to participate in more regattas throughout The Bahamas; major ones being:
- The Sloop Valentine’s Day Regatta on Montagu Bay.
- The Long Island Junior Optimist Regatta on Montagu Bay (A new event)
- The Homer Lowe Sunfish Regatta which included the junior Optimist sailors.
- The Mac Knowles Junior Sailing Club Regatta in Long Island.
- The Optimist Junior National Championship (mentioned above)
· Programs above continued with the same level of participation.
Optimist National Championship 2010 (Photo: Robert Dunkley)
2009 to 2011 - Greater growth and diversification
Optimist National Championship 2010 (Photo: Robert Dunkley)
· The year round Junior Sailing Program continued in Optimists, and Sunfish with over 100 students each year in total, 70 of whom were from over 15 different Government schools.
· The Junior Sailing Summer Camp continued with over 120 students, over 60 of whom were from 13 different Government schools each year. In 2009 eight instructors were hired for the Summer Camp, five being Bahamians. In 2011 six instructors were hired, five of whom were Bahamian.
· BSA provided three Government schools, Columbus Primary, Stephen Dillet Primary and Albury Sayles Primary with dedicated afternoon sessions for certain classes at their schools. 15 to 26 students attended each session from grades 3 to 6.
· BSA Instructors continued to provide training sessions to the Family Islands and assisted with the start-up of their junior sailing programs; the last one being Harbour Island. Optimist Junior Sailing Programs/Fleets are now operating in two locations in Nassau, plus Freeport, Governors Harbour, Harbour Island, Long Island, Man-O-War Cay, Hope Town, Green Turtle Cay and Marsh Harbour and at the end of 2011 totaled over 90 boats and 200 junior sailors.
· Participation by our junior sailors in established local and Family Island regattas grew; the key annual events being:
o The following Bahamian national championship regattas:
§ Snipe National Championship
§ Snipe Junior National Championship
§ Sunfish National Championship
§ Sunfish Junior National Championship
§ Laser National Championship
§ Laser Junior National Championship
§ Optimist Junior national Championship (70 to 82 junior participants each year from around the Bahamas and elsewhere)
o The Homer Lowe Memorial Sunfish & Hugh Cottis Memorial Optimist Regatta in Marsh Harbour. (now over 30 juniors participating annually)
o The Terry McCoy Memorial Sunfish Regatta in Nassau. (10 out of 20 participants are juniors now)
o The Opti /Sloop Valentines Day Regatta in Nassau (Now over 20 junior sailors participating).
o Optimist Quarterly Regattas hosted separately by three different sailing clubs every three months. This is new for 2011 and attracts between 20 and 30 participants.
· BSA’s International Racing Program became more active.
o The year round Junior Laser Sailing Program for advanced juniors was enhanced with a more serious and competitive approach, including greater participation in major international events. Results in many of these events were impressive such as:
§ 2010 Orange Bowl Regatta - 7th place out of 140.
§ 2011 Laser Midwinters East Regatta - 7th out of 105.
§ 2010 North American Championships - 2nd in the Silver Fleet.
Laser Orange Bowl 2010 Laser Nationals 2010 (Photos: Robert Dunkley)
o Our top Laser sailor each year represented the Bahamas at the ISAF Youth World Championships in 2009 (Brazil), 2010 (Turkey) and 2011 (Croatia) with impressive results in Turkey and Croatia. Only the top sailor in each country in the classes hosted qualifies for this event; same format as the Olympic Games.
o Six juniors raced in the 2009 Int’l Junior Sunfish Championships held in Nassau in a fleet of 25 competitors from ten countries.
o Four junior sailors competed in the 2009 Sunfish World Championships held in Nassau in a fleet of 72 boats from 14 countries.
o Seven sailors represented The Bahamas at the Central American & Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico in 2010 in the Sunfish, Laser and Snipe Classes. One of the team members in the Sunfish class was our top junior sailor and another junior crewed in the Snipe Class.
o In 2011 two of our junior sailors began university at College of Charleston and both made it on their Sailing Team, one on the Varsity Team and the other on the Junior Varsity Team.
o Plans for 2012 are to send for the first time three of the countries top Optimist sailors to the Optimist World Championship in Dominica Republic as well as our top junior Laser sailor (in Freeport) to the ISAF Youth World Championships in Ireland.
· In 2011, BSA and Bahamas Olympic Association jointly provided a Sailing Instructor’s Training course given by a top level ISAF Instructor from England. This was funded through the IOC’s Solidarity Program. Seventeen Bahamians, mostly from the Family Islands participated and as a result received their Level 1 Instructor’s Certification
BSA Instructor’s Course 2011 (Photo: Robert Dunkley)