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Thursday 5th August 2010

The Youth Sailing Programme was set up by Jolly Harbour Yacht Club some years ago – it was revitalized in 2007. The aim of the programme was to teach young Antiguan children to sail, free of charge. Initially the courses were run by volunteers on Saturday mornings – unfortunately it was not possible to sustain this due to the qualified volunteers being few and far between, and not always available on every Saturday.

In June 2009 we engaged the services of a Dinghy Sailing Instructor to enable the programme to run on a more consistent basis. This Instructor was paid expenses every weekend – he was responsible for teaching sailing to the young Antiguans on Saturdays, and when possible we had fee paying sessions on Sundays to try and cover the costs of the Instructor. The essential safety boat and ‘beach cover’ were still being supplied by volunteers – including the cost of fuel for the safety boat on many occasions! Later that year we enlisted the help of a second paid Instructor to be better able to cover the numbers of children that were attending – at this time we were regularly seeing 10 or 12 children each Saturday. As the numbers grew and the diverse levels of expertise became an issue we began having 2 sessions – the morning session for the beginners and the afternoon session for the more advanced students.

From this small beginning we have established a dinghy sailing training centre that comprises 3 Full Time Sailing Instructors, 12 various dinghies, and a range of dinghy sailing accessories. Currently this operates from Monday to Friday with a children’s Summer Camp that has been extremely popular with everyone involved. Parents, in particular, have said how impressed they are with how their children have learned so much and enjoyed themselves at the same time. These same Instructors also turn out every Saturday to run the free programme for the Antiguan youth.
At the same time as Jolly Harbour Yacht Club Dinghy Programme was growing the Dinghy Sailing Programme at Antigua Yacht Club was also going from strength to strength. As a result of the enthusiasm and drive of Elizabeth Jordan the Commodore of AYC, the National Sailing Academy was created, and the Jolly Harbour Yacht Club was invited to get involved. This involvement, and the scale of our programme, that is rapidly outgrowing the meagre resources of the Club, means we have to increase our fund raising activities to cover our costs.

The 3 Instructors we have engaged will be responsible for running the lessons for the school children that we shall be teaching on behalf of the newly formed National Sailing Academy. The Summer Camp was established partly to give them the experience of working with groups of children, and to take responsibility for the organising of the training at different levels of skill. This will be valuable practical experience for their future with the NSA. The JHYC is hoping to see students from the local schools, and they will receive tuition to an intermediate level. If they show aptitude, they will ‘graduate’ to attending the classes run by our National Olympian sailor Karl James at Antigua Yacht Club.

The Yacht Club has worked hard to raise funds for the Youth Sailing Programme, and for some time we had a very healthy bank balance. To reach the level we have now achieved has taken capital expenditure that has significantly depleted our funds. We have purchased our own safety boat with outboard – in which we were generously assisted by the supplier Yamaha Outdoor World who is a strong supporter of the Programme. The boats all have to be insured and the club also has to have public liability insurance for the students. Our thanks must go to Anjo Insurance for their assistance with this. The boats also require maintenance and occasional repairs; the instructors do this work, but we still have to purchase the materials required. The programme had been running with the students using buoyancy jackets that had been donated from various sources, many of them were looking very ‘tired’ and not all of them were suitable for children or dinghy sailing. We have now purchased enough new buoyancy jackets to fit large groups of children, and in a wider range of sizes, so no child needs to be on the water in a badly fitting jacket. The basic weekly running costs for the programme include the Instructors wages, dinghy fuel, and printed paper handouts for the students to learn some theory.
At the moment we have no fresh water available to us at our base on North Beach. It is important to wash down the boats, and to rinse off sails and buoyancy jackets to preserve their life span. We now have an agreement from CDAL who are responsible for the management of Jolly Harbour, and they are going to supply water to the beach. This will be metered and a further regular expense.

Once the NSA sessions begin we will be getting some funding for the students attending, which will cover costs such as the Instructors and fuel for the chase boat, but we will need to cover ongoing costs to sustain the programme. Realistically we do not expect to get schools attending every day to begin with – once word spreads we can hope to get more students, but in the meantime we have to retain the services of the instructors.

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