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Karl James Teaches in the BVI

What
happens when, for two days, you mix five eager teens, five enthusiastic adults,
ten Lasers and a world-class sailor and coach? You end up with a weekend of
intense training, some fun, sore muscles, new skills and a fresh set of goals.

That is just what happened recently when
Antiguan Karl James, a world class Laser sailor and coach, spent all day
Saturday and most of Sunday with teens Bryshawn Scatliffe, Sam Woods, Elsa
Meyers, Jevon Cooper, and Jamie Bibby.

Adults Emma Paull, Clair Burke, Seamus
Hennessey, Robert Phillips and Linda
Phillips also took part.

The weekend course is part of the training
program for young sailors sponsored by the Royal BVI Yacht Club and the BVI
Sailing Federation; the goal of which is to train young competitors for local,
regional and international events.

Karl James is the quintessential example of
what a program like this can produce. Karl is a West Indian who has sailed most
of his life. Now in his mid-thirties, sailing has provided him with the
“ticket” to competitions throughout the world. To name just a few, he has
competed in the Olympics in
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Atlanta and Barcelona and World
championships in Argentina and Europe.

In 2003, he was seventh in the Pan Am Games, is four-time Caribbean
Laser Champion and has been the instructor and full time coach at Antigua Yacht
Club for 15 years.
Regardless of his past success, he still must qualify at home before sponsors
send him abroad.

Conditions
for training on Saturday were light. Rather than the class quickly rigging the
boats and hitting the water, Karl’s first lessons were in how to best rig the
boat to provide maximum flexibility to tune on the water depending on the
conditions. Once on the water, the class was drilled in the proper way to tack
and jibe. For those who don’t sail Lasers, this is no easy feat, as it requires
coordination, balance, timing and a third hand. (Just kidding about the hand.)

The class ended the morning session on the
beach at Brandywine Bay, joining with sailors from the Pizza Pursuit race in
Virgin Queen Pizza and lots of soft drinks and water sponsored by Highland
Spring. After lunch, the ten left the beach again and, with Karl giving advice
from a dinghy, raced upwind to Peter Island. The wind was initially very light
and the initial indications were that the group would be lucky to be there by
nightfall but, as the afternoon wore on, the breeze picked up to a steady 8 –
10 knots. Once at Peter Island, the group set off again for the beach at Road
Reef to pack the boats away for the night.

Sunday’s story was quite different because
instead of light and variable winds, the group sailed in 15 – 20 knots of
breeze. For some, it was more a matter of learning to keep the boat upright in
a heavy blow than sailing. But for others, it was a chance to learn to push the
boat and themselves to the maximum. After lunch, Karl set a series of small
races which helped the sailors use their new skills.

The Royal BVI Yacht Club and the Caribbean
Sailing Association (CSA) co-sponsored the weekend’s activities. Karl will
return to the BVI in early July with his KATS team to compete in the Chief
Minister’s Cup.

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