Learn to Sail

Our junior sailors receiving instructions at the Optimist Junior National Championships - 2010
(Photo: Robert Dunkley)

Bahamas National Sailing School
P.O. Box N-752
Contact #242-357-3959

For info on the BSA's Year Round Sailing Program; Starting September 1, 2012. Click here!

The School’s Objectives

The Bahamas has a proud history of sailing and also has had significant international sailing success.  The country’s first Olympic medals (Gold and Bronze) were won in sailing events.  Bahamian sailors currently continue to compete on a regular basis in World Championships and major international regattas. In order to broaden the number of Bahamians sailing, the BSA realizes it needs to build a broad base of young sailors and the best way to do this is through a National Sailing School that caters to the general public and encourages/supports young Bahamians in sailing locally and at the international level. 
The school’s mission is not only to develop top-level sailors to compete internationally but to also have a very positive impact on society at all levels. Its programs are designed to instill important values and life skills in its students, such as self-esteem, discipline, self-respect, manners, respect for their equipment and their fellow sailors and a greater sense of fair play and good sportsmanship. More than any other sport, sailing provides the skills individuals can use to gain employment, particularly in the maritime, yachting and hotel industries.

The Bahamas Sailing Association (“BSA”) started the National Sailing School in November 2004. Its development has been rapid and a brief history of its progress and achievements is attached as Appendix I below.
By 2011, its activities have expanded to include:
·      The Year Round program: - This involves teaching kids sailing in Optimist dinghies as well as Sunfish and Lasers. This is a program of regular lessons for beginners and improving young sailors three afternoons per week and all day Saturdays. The BSA has been having great success with this and regards it as its way of “keeping kids off the streets” and getting them into a healthy and productive environment.
·      The School Sports program: - This puts sailing on the school curriculum for private and public (Government) schools during school hours. The BSA has done this on a trial basis in Government schools and found it to be very effective. Curiously enough, teachers reported back that kids attending the program were achieving better grades as the sailing was used as an incentive for them to do their homework and work harder. They also found that the kids focused better as a result of sailing. BSA is working on expanding this program and would eventually like to see sailing as part of the public school curriculum in every Bahamian school.. (See Appendix III for details.)
·      The BSA Summer Sailing Camp: - This is offered in Optimist and Sunfish to all kids in The Bahamas each year during the summer holidays. There are normally three two week sessions, all day, Mondays to Fridays. Since 2009 the camps in total have around 100 attendees each year. These students are from a variety of social economic backgrounds and schools. In fact the camp has now had students from over 30 schools, the vast majority of them being from what might be termed ‘under privileged’ situations. This program is a “feeder” to the Year Round Program and has proven to be a great way to keep kids occupied during the summer holidays in a fun and healthy activity.  (See Appendix III for details.)
·      The Regatta Program: - This is part of the Year Round Program and is designed to give our young sailors with appropriate skills and enthusiasm the opportunity to compete in regattas locally, in the Family Islands and abroad. This is where sailing starts to become a more serious full-time sport for the participants.
·      The Advanced Laser Radial Program and Advanced Optimist Program: - These are for the most advanced juniors wishing to compete seriously at the international level. This is run year round and coached by one of the top international sailors in The Bahamas. Between 2009 and 2011 four to six teenagers annually participated in the Advanced Laser Radial Program and competed in at least three international events each year, including the ISAF Youth World Championships. The Advanced Optimist program began in late 2011 with the objective of having The Bahamas participate in the Optimist World Championship in 2012 and beyond.
The year round, school sports and summer camp programs collectively deliver in aggregate over 3,000 student sailing sessions to young Bahamians each year. In total, over 200 youngsters now attend the school in Nassau annually. 

Our Students

As mentioned above, the National Sailing School’s programs are heavily focused on providing sailing as an activity for those students that would not otherwise have this opportunity. One of it’s main goals is to try to positively change the lives of children by instilling in them values and principles which they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. We are very proud that some of the students who learned to sail in our first summer program are now qualified instructors and are teaching others.  These instructors have learned all they know about sailing and teaching the sport through our program and a number of them have also proudly represented the Bahamas in international competitions with excellent results. 
We also work to prepare our students to bid for collegiate sailing scholarships, which will enable them to continue to compete internationally with a goal of competing one day at the highest levels. Currently two Bahamians who came through our program are now sailing on teams at College of Charleston, one of the top collegiate teams in the USA.

                                                                                                                                                                  (Photo:  Robert Dunkley)

We believe OUR YOUTH IS OUR FUTURE and are dedicated to helping them develop not only as sailors, but also as healthy, well-disciplined and productive individuals.

Our Organizers & Instructors

The programs are organized by unpaid volunteers and delivered by two salaried full-time instructors who, together with the additional temporary instructors employed during summer camps, are the only paid employees.
All of BSA’s instructors today are Bahamians. The Director of the National Sailing School and National Coach has extensive experience in teaching sailing as well as other sports. He has also raced internationally for many years and represented The Bahamas in numerous World Championships, the Caribbean Central American Games, Pan American Games and the 1996 Olympic Games.  The Association’s other full-time instructor came up through the BSA’s junior sailing program and has represented the Bahamas in international events, including the 2009 ISAF Junior World Championship.
The school employs 5 to 7 instructors and assistant instructors each summer for its Summer Camp. All of them have evolved from the BSA sailing program and now have their Level One Instructor’s Certification. 

Our Boats

The Optimist dinghy is the boat kids are first introduced to in the National Sailing School.  These are single-handed boats which are skippered by 8 to 15 year olds.  These boats provide the perfect learning platform as the decisions these youngsters make when sailing them are their own and the responsibility lies completely with them as to how to get in to and out of situations.   The Optimist is the dinghy in which kids around the world learn to sail.  It is sailed in over 110 countries by over 200,000 young people, and it is safe enough for an 8-year-old skipper and challenging enough for a 15 year old.  Go to www.optiworld.org for more information on Optimist Dinghies.
In addition to the Optimist, the BSA has secured other one-design sailboats such as Sunfish and Lasers, the latter being Olympic Class. These are the boats to which the Optimist sailors advance in order to further develop their skills and gain greater experience in racing, particularly at the international level. This is done mainly through the Advanced Junior Laser program mentioned in the Introduction section above. 

Our Schools and  Jr. Fleet Locations

The National Sailing School is operated out of the Nassau Yacht Club which has kindly provided its facilities free of charge. It is hoped that in the near future the National Sailing School will have its own facility that will enable the junior sailing program to expand even further.
The National Sailing School also has a program geared towards the Family Islands which is conducted in the Family Islands on a rotational basis.  To date, the National Sailing School has helped develop active junior fleets in Marsh Harbor, Man-O-War, Guana Cay, Hope Town, Freeport, Governor’s Harbour and Long Island with plans for Exuma and Andros on the horizon. During 2009, we conducted sailing camps in Harbour Island and Long Island.
Bahamas Optimist Junior National Championship 2012 in Grand Bahama       (Photo:  Robert Dunkley)
Our Sponsorship Opportunities

The BSA’s sponsorship opportunities range from being a Sustaining Partner which is priced at $50,000 through to Bronze Sponsorship at $2,500. The BSA recognizes that each organization has different objectives in relation to their public relation profiles and to this end will consider any form of publicity that the sponsor my desire in connection with their sponsorship of the National Sailing School. In particular, there is room for flexibility in the Gold and Platinum sponsorship categories in terms of the sponsor fulfillment program. An outline of what each category offers is shown here.

1.     Since starting the junior sailing program in 2004, these programs are now operating in nine clubs/fleets in different parts of The Bahamas (New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera and Long Island) under the guidance of BSA.
2.     There are by far more kids involved in sailing as a sport in The Bahamas than ever before. It is estimated that over 200 youngsters participate in our junior sailing programs now each year and the majority of them are from underprivileged families. Kids from 38 different government schools have participated in our program since it’s beginning in 2004.
3.     Junior sailors now have more local regattas in which to compete than they have ever had.  They have a total of 11 per year, including national championship events in four different classes as well as events in different islands where they all gather to compete.
4.     Our juniors are now participating each year in major international competitions such as ISAF Youth World Championship, Laser North American Championships, Orange Bowl Regatta (Lasers and Optimists), Sunfish World Championships and more.
5.     Some of our juniors are starting to make a name for themselves in international sailing as a result of their excellent performance at international regattas (e.g. Christopher Sands).
6.     Two of our junior sailors are now sailing for the College of Charleston, one of the top sailing colleges in the US.
7.     There are now 12 qualified Bahamian sailing instructors in the country. When this program started seven years ago there were none. The majority of them have come through the BSA junior sailing program.
8.     Most importantly our program has proven to help young Bahamians in their personal development and provide them with a livelihood and healthy lifestyle. Three of our students are now gainfully employed; one with the Bahamas Defense Force working towards being a Ship’s Captain, another with one of the major hotels in their water sports program and the other with BSA as a sailing instructor.

(Photo:  Lori Lowe)