Minister of Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, poses with the sailors who will represent Barbados in the 2009 J24 World Championship.

Government is determined to establish a productive sport sector, especially since it recognises the social and economic contribution it makes to the country.

Minister of Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, said Barbados had attained international acclaim for the sports persons it had produced and the events it had hosted. “As the country forges ahead with its developmental focus, the creation of the sport economy will stand as a visible sign of the country’s creativity and excellence in managing its human and physical resources,” Dr. Byer Suckoo stated.

She made the comments yesterday at the Mount Gay Visitor Centre at a “Send Off” for local sailors who will be participating in the 2009 J24 World Championship which is being held in Annapolis, Maryland, United States of America, from April 30 to May 8. Barbados is the first island from the southern Caribbean to participate in this world-class event.

The Minister told the gathering that regardless of the outcome they had already done the island proud. “Time and again, Barbadians continue to defy the fact that we are a very small island … but that does not seem to stop us. Barbadians continue to raise the bar and excel in about every field,” she proudly stated.

Pointing out that even though the country had been represented at other international sailing events, she stressed that its presence at the upcoming event spoke to the quality of the sailors and instructors here. She added that their participation in the activity could serve as encouragement to other regional countries which had avid or growing sailing populations.

Dr. Byer Suckoo said participation in sports was growing despite the economic challenges that might hinder general involvement. “Sponsorship is essential in [any] successful sporting activity and Government is committed to facilitating a more mutually beneficial relationship with those individuals and entities who wish to be more involved in sport at that level. We will encourage more sponsorship … government cannot sponsor all the events, but can partner with corporate Barbados so that it is beneficial,” she noted.

President of the J24 Association, Neil Burke, said 82 entries from 18 countries had already registered to compete in the event. He explained that the teams, Hawkeye and Maximum, had been training on the water for an average of three days weekly, and missed the recent Bequia Regatta to focus on their techniques.

“On the return of the Barbados team from the J24 World Championship, they will bring with them the experience and new techniques which they would have learnt from the more seasoned sailors, just in time for the annual Mount Gay Regatta, which will have entries from the nearby islands,” Mr. Burke explained.

However, he added that in order for the sailors to continue to raise the standard and compete internationally, corporate Barbados must become more involved.

Barbados’ two J24 boats are being sponsored by Mount Gay Rum, the Barbados Tourism Authority, Cinnamon 88 and the Barbados Sailing Association. Robert Povey will captain Hawkeye with its crew, while Colin Symes will captain Maximum.

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