After a very successful last season, which saw a substantial increase in the number of students taking up the sport of sailing, the 2013-14 season training program started last Saturday. The response so far has been encouraging, as 50 kids registered for Optimist and Laser classes under the supervision of Coach Steve Brajkovic from Australia.
Of the growing group of young sailors-in-the-making, thirteen hail from the community of Gros Islet, and are sponsored by IGY Rodney Bay Marina. IGY General Manager, Simon Bryan is keen to emphasise their ongoing support for the youth sailing program, and other routes for young people to enter the marine sector, whether it be in the competitive sport, or as trainees and apprentices within the many businesses involved in yachting.
The development of the marine industries in Saint Lucia offers many opportunities for local youngsters to build future careers, so developing their swimming, sailing and water-safety skills is a first step into a lucrative sector. By getting kids involved with sail training at a young age, they are exposed to a wide range of experiences, and learn hard skills which can be carried to many occupations in tourism, watersports and yachting or even the armed forces.
After watching the youngsters demonstrating their skills on the water in Optis and Lasers, as well as trying out SLYC’s brand new Laser Picos and Opti Bugs, the STAR chatted with the enthusiastic group about their experiences in the Saint Lucia Youth Sailing Program.
Chrisanki Flood, Age 15 from Gros Islet (Youth Sailor for 2 years)
“Since I joined I learnt about different boats and how to sail, and competed against sailors from other countries. In Nationals in June I did very well and came 11th overall in the Optimist class: the year before I came 34th. I had to keep up with the top Opti sailors from Martinique who are really good, and competing with them made me a better sailor. I want to be the top Opti sailor in 2014.”
Kaysean Blondell, Age 13 from Gros Islet (Youth Sailor for 1 year)
“I sailed Optis until now, but I’ll be moving up to Laser 4.7 this term. Sailing is good, it’s a bit challenging when we have events like regattas. You have to train really hard to prepare and try to place in the top three. When I took part in Nationals I came 17th out of a lot of very good sailors. Now I am starting in Lasers, and so far I’m doing pretty good.”
Meanwhile, Saint Lucia’s top-ranked dinghy sailor, Stephanie Devaux-Lovell competed last week against the very best at the ISAF Women’s Laser World Championships in China, under the guiding hand of coach and 2012 Olympian Beth Lygoe. The highlight of the competitive regatta was the very last race, during which Stephanie dug deep and pulled out a stellar performance.
Overall Stephanie was 54th out of 77 sailors.
For information on the National Youth Sailing Program, call the Saint Lucia Yacht Club on 452 8350, or email Co-ordinator Lily Bergasse at firstname.lastname@example.org.