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Tuesday 8th June 2010

Last Saturday afternoon was a milestone event for students aged 8-18 in Antigua, as the official opening of the National Sailing Academy (N.S.A.) of Antigua was launched.Check out the photos  of the launch party.

In a fitting location, Nelson’s Dockyard, and considered to be the heart of the yachting industry in Antigua, many students who are currently part of the Youth Sailing Programme at the Antigua Yacht Club, took to the water to display their tacking and gybing skills to the gathered crowd.

People attending included the Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Take who is also the patron of the Academy, the Honorable Dr. Winston Baldwin Spencer and the representative for St. Paul’s Eleston Adams along with a who’s who in the Antiguan Yachting industry.

The ceremony was opened by Commodore of the Antigua Yacht Club and President of the N.S.A. Elizabeth Jordan. Elizabeth first thanked the sponsors who had made significant contributions to help start the Academy. These included Premier Motors Antigua who funded the construction and launch of the website, and several Yachts who have each funded the purchase of a new Optimist dinghy.   A  new Diamond Sponsor - Intertops - has donated $EC65,000 to the swimming programme which will be used to purchase equipment such as swimming hats, goggles and t-shirts for participating children as well as funding lessons for the first 150 students.    Fincham’s Follies, a second Diamond Sponsor,  have donated $EC40,000 to the sailing programme.  The donation from Fincham’s Follies comes from the monies raised over the years in the annual Variety Show held in English Harbour. Previous donations have been made to  a local hurricane shelter, sailing dinghies, the Amazing Grace Foundation,. The Fiennes Institute and, more recently, the construction of the children’s programme by community member Bob Tillotson at Pigeon Beach.

Elizabeth went on to mention the history of the Yacht Club Youth Sailing Programme and showed a picture of the class of ’93. It contained 18 students  of which 9 are now working full time in careers within the marine industry. It is almost the blueprint for what the Academy are trying to achieve. Previously,  those who were able to take part in the progamme either lived in the area, or had the financial resources available.   Also of note from the class of ’92 is Faraday Rosenburg - now Captain of superyacht ‘White Wings’ and cruising throughout the world as her chosen career.

The academy is removing logistic and financial barriers to our nation’s youth entering the marine industry. With co-ordination from the Ministry of Sports and Education and the Ministry of Transport, those children who select sailing as their sport if choice, will be transported once a week to Falmouth or Jolly Harbour for their tuition, with the cost being covered by the Academy.  Aside from sponsorships, which interested persons are encouraged to contact the Academy to discuss, every yacht which docks in Antigua each season will be asked to make a donation to the programme of U$1.00 per foot of overall length.
The other Academy board members are themselves key figures in their industry: Pippa Pettingell form the Jolly Harbour Yacht Club who also runs the Youth Sailing Programme at Jolly Harbour, Karl James, twice Olympian sailor,  who is Senior Instructor at the Antigua Yacht Club, Graeme Swatton, director of Swalings International School of Swimming who is heading up the swimming programme,  John Duffy, president of the Antigua and Barbuda Marine Association who actively promotes Antigua as an international yachting centre,  Peter Anthony of Ondeck Ocean Racing, the charter company who will provide training once the children have gained enough experience to move onto bigger boats, and who as a company actively train and employ many Antiguans and  Eddison Williams who acts as the liason between the Government and the private sector.

The Prime Minister then gave his heartfelt support for the programme citing it as a significant investment in the development of our youth in the marine sector and a success as far as public and private sector partnerships are concerned.  He supported the advancement of the Academy, not just for the potential for successful careers but also as a positive activity through which  our youth can advance their development.  He particularly thanked the directors of the Academy for their immensely hard work in pulling together the programme in less than six months, and specifically President Elizabeth Jordan for her passion, energy and entrepreneurship in pushing forward the initiative. He also thanked Graeme Swatton of Swalings  and CCSET who are offering free swimming and lifeguard skills for students in the new academic year. 

The presentation ended with the showing of a video which was sponsored by Woodstock Boatbuilders, North Sails and Antigua Rigging. The video is a fascinating insight into what the children enjoy about sailing and swimming and some of the careers being enjoyed by many Antiguans who have previously taken part in the sailing programme at the Antigua Yacht Club.

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