Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey (left) and BSA President, Dr. Gus Reader, at the handover ceremony. (S. Forde-Craigg/BGIS)

The Barbados Sailing Association (BSA) received seven new O’pen Skiff sailboats, yesterday morning, as part of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy’s Sail For Life programme.

Minister Kirk Humphrey handed over the sailboats at the Barbados Yacht Club, Bay Street, St. Michael, where children in the programme are being taught to sail.

Mr. Humphrey explained that under the Ministry’s programme “We Sea, We Life”, there are two initiatives, ‘Swim for Life’ and ‘Sail For Life’.

The aim is to educate Barbadians about preservation of the ocean and its capacity to be a highly productive resource, as well as to “get young people into the ocean and into the sea and having that appreciation for it”.

“I really want to thank the Barbados Sailing Association and the Barbados Yacht Club. When we started this programme, I wanted to work with anybody who was teaching sailing, who could teach young people to sail, and the Barbados Sailing Association offered that.  So that was the idea behind the whole programme, just to get persons back into the ocean back into the sea.

“The other thing that I felt was very important was to get certification and to have a level of training that represents the best of Barbados because we needed people who were certified to train, so that our graduates would have the necessary certification to take forward,” Minister Humphrey stated.

He noted that as a result of the Barbados Yacht Club accommodating the ‘Sail For Life’ initiative, young people from all over Barbados were able to learn how to sail; form relationships and build friendships. 

He reported that last year’s initiative was oversubscribed, and only 37 young people were taught how to sail, and so far this year, only three were being taught, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Humphrey disclosed that with the $45,000 provided by the Ministry, the BSA was able to purchase the skiffs.  He expressed the hope that with the increase in sailboats, the ‘Sail for Life’ initiative would be able to double the amount of persons that could be trained next year. 

He also revealed that the Ministry has plans to roll out, as part of the “We Sea, We Life” programme, an initiative to train people to fish.

President of the BSA, Dr. Gus Reader said: “The Barbados Sailing Association is rebuilding its sailing programme, in cooperation with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs. 

Mr. Humphrey has been involved from the very beginning in assisting us with an instructor [Che Alleyne] and then, by agreement, the Ministry has assisted us with the purchase of seven O’pen Skiff sailboats.

“These are a modern, lightweight, training sailboat.  They’re fast; they’re easy to sail; easy to rig; easy to maintain, and they’re great. They are intended for youth sailing and I’m hoping that they will really enjoy them.  It’s a worldwide class, registered and recognised by world sailing as an international class, and already, Tahe, the manufacturers of these boats, has posted the first photographs of these boats sailing in Barbados on their international website.”

He stated that the BSA would continue to have ongoing communications with Tahe, and he hoped that it would bring good exposure for Barbados and for sailing on the island. 

Dr. Reader also thanked the Barbados Yacht Club for providing a home for the BSA and for its part in helping to teach young people to sail.

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