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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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