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First Ever Caribbean Youth Sailing Summit: A Step Forward to a Better Future

A summit meeting of representatives of active sailing territories in the Caribbean was coordinated by the Barbados Sailing Association under the auspices of the Barbados Yacht Club on the weekend of the 17th and 18th of September.

The summit addressed the problem of the lack of an organized regional programme and certification system that would provide consistency for the training of youth in sailing and boating skills. The need for a programme that would provide training and certification on a consistent and sustainable basis within the Caribbean using the best available systems was identified.

The keynote speaker of the conference was Amy Goman, a senior instructor with Ontario Sailing, who outlined the systems and methods utilized in Canada. The meeting was opened by Mr. Ralph Johnson, one of Barbados’s iconic sailing personalities, presently Vice President of the Barbados Olympic Association and former president of the Caribbean Sailing Association.

The attention to this subject was stimulated by the present inconsistency in training, the need for boating skills in the job market and the need to promote skill training that matches the natural water resources of the Caribbean islands.

Representatives from Puerto Rico, USVI, BVI, St Maarten, Antigua, Martinique, St Lucia, St Vincent, Bequia, Grenada, Barbados and Trinidad attended the meeting.

The meeting found consensus on the broad principles of a certification programme and an interim structure, which could lead to a region-wide certification system. The association envisages the creation of a certification system, which will be used in the Eastern Caribbean and around which training can be modeled. The meeting found consensus on following in broad terms the Canadian model of training and certification, which was already partially used in some Caribbean islands.

The meeting determined that the Caribbean Sailing Association should appoint an interim Director of Certification and Instruction. Mr. Colin Barcant of Trinidad has been proposed for this position.

The president of the Caribbean Sailing Association, Mr. Robbie Ferron, said of the summit: “This is the beginning of a long process of upgrading the quality of youth sailing instruction and one that is most appropriate in the light of the opportunities that exist for sailing in the region and the relative lack of use of these opportunities”.

'Colin Barcant, interim Director of Certification and Instruction

One of the key reasons behind this CSA initiative is to make available to all Caribbean territories a training capability which will provide a boost to the individual countries’ programs; in particular the smaller territories where resources are limited.

The CSA membership recognizes that it is in their interest to provide the support to lift the programs of all its members to a minimum standard. The larger or metropolitan-supported territories support it for this reason in particular.

Strategically, if the Caribbean can have enough instructors at the various levels widely available and working on a common platform (standard) we can make them available for developing programs at an economical cost.

Permanent and resident qualified instructors are the bane of Caribbean youth/dinghy sailing at the moment. Half of the volunteers heading up programs are themselves moving on in the near future.”

Amy Goman, Ontario sailing

The Youth Sailing Summit resulted in a consensus from the Caribbean Islands to come together through the Caribbean Sailing Association to create a unified standard that will be modelled after the Canadian system.

What distinguishes the Canadian Yachting Association certification system from others is the expectations above and beyond the sailboat. The CYA requires its instructors to be highly trained in safety and emergency procedures in addition to being trained in motorboat handling, how to teach, evaluate, lesson plan, and run and manage a sailing school. CYA has developed a flexible system to allow for individuals with experience to enter the certification process that best reflects their previous experience rather than requiring them to start from the entry level. It is for these reasons that the Canadian Yachting Association certification program has been so successful.”

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