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A New KATS IC24 Launched – Courtesy of FirstCaribbean Bank

Nels
Hagenson has done quite a job since taking over the sailing aspect of Kids and
the Sea (KATS) in the BVI in 2004 from Lianne LeTendre, who had held the job
for over a decade. A pilot as well as a sailor, Nels, along with John Lewis,
KATS Chairman, was instrumental in acquiring funding from the First Caribbean
Bank in the conversion and rebuilding of the J/24 Barclays KATS (originally
donated to KATS in 1997 by Barclays Bank PLC) and whose involvement with KATS
began in 1993. The boat was launched at Tortola Yacht Services boatyard in Road
Town, just in time for team practicing for the BVI Chief Minister’s Cup at the
beginning of July and will be kept at Nanny Cay Marina, home of the BVI IC24
fleet.

Michael Spencer, head of corporate banking
and BVI manager for FirstCaribbean, was on hand for the launching and told All At Sea, "Today was a proud day
for us at FirstCaribbean. FirstCaribbean
KATS
looked great as she was lowered into the water and it was gratifying
to watch her sail off with her KATS crew. The more we learn about KATS, the
more we realize how important it is to support this organization that puts so
much effort into ensuring that the youth of the BVI can safely enjoy the
watersports that the Territory offers."

FirstCaribbean is the result of the
combination of two complementary and leading financial services businesses in
the Caribbean – CIBC West Indies Holdings Limited and Barclays Bank PLC. In
2004, FirstCaribbean was named as "Bank of the Year" by The Banker
magazine and "Best Emerging Market Bank" by Global Finance magazine.

Racing sailors Chris Haycraft and Richard
Wooldridge, of Racing In Paradise, rebuilt the J-24, which was their eighth to
convert into an IC24. The process is most interesting – starting with an old
J-24 (some being over two decades old) and spending days of chopping
(dismantling), laminating, bonding, filling, sanding and spraying until the
IC24 is finally ready. Fortunately, Jamel Davies of East End, Tortola, is in
charge of the process. I met Jamel years ago when I wrote an article on his
famous grandfather Claremond Davies, who designed and built Tortola sloops
(Youth Instructor) and schooners, and who was responsible for maintaining the
Caribbean’s oldest Island Sloop, Vigilant
(1882), until his death last year. The Davies family has, throughout BVI
history, been filled with excellent boat builders and it is great to see Jamel
continuing this heritage.

Local businessman Tom Gerker developed The
KATS program in the US Virgin Islands in the late 1980s after an accident in
which three Boy Scouts, on a camping expedition, drowned when their boat sank.
Unable to swim, they also lacked the necessary sea skills to handle a boating emergency.
There were no youth water safety programs at the time but through the efforts
of the two Rotary Clubs and the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service, KATS
was started.

In the BVI, both the basic sea skills and
the swim programs began in the early 1990s and have since graduated more than a
thousand youngsters. The program later grew to include Sailing and scuba
diving.

Nels tells me, “With the addition of this
boat we can now train and race two teams in match racing. We also plan to use
these boats to instruct our new recruits in techniques that are often hard to
demonstrate on our Laser 4.7s where things can happen rather quickly when
you’re first out on the water. Our plans are to hold the Chief Ministers Cup
aboard IC 24s in the future, and with the growing fleet, we should be able
to have a boat for each visiting team every July. We look forward to many
years of continuing support from First Caribbean and all our sponsors and thank
the generosity of the IC 24 owners for allowing us to use their boats annually
for the Chief Ministers Cup.

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