16 Years of BVI Kids’ Sailing
- July 1st, 2014
- in Yachting
16 Years of The Premier’s Cup
Photography by Edna S Williams
BVI’s Nanny Cay will be host to the 16th annual Premier’s Cup International Youth Regatta on July 18 – 20 this year; an event showcasing the amazing sea skills of the younger generation with funds proceeding towards the KATS programme (Kids And The Sea).
Speaking to Brian Dobson, director of sailing and organiser of the Premier’s Cup’s 16th year, we discussed what the event would entail as well as a brief history of the motivations supporting the Premier’s Cup and the challenges faced.
Brian explained that this year, the BVI can expect a multitude of diverse admissions from around the Caribbean. “We have teams taking part from Anguilla, Antigua, Bahamas, Cayman, Puerto Rico, USA (Sail Caribbean), St Croix, and Tortola,” he said of this special occasion that promotes the BVI’s inherent interest in the marine world and a sharing of their most coveted activity.
Elaborating on what spectators will see at this unique event, he described that, “each team is comprised of a skipper and five crew plus a land based coach. Practice is on the Friday afternoon then dependant on the wind and sea conditions, there should be about five races on Saturday morning, five more in the afternoon and five on the Sunday morning.”
Subsequently, Sunday afternoon sees the celebration and prize-giving ceremony by the BVI Premier, the Honourable Dr D. Orlando Smith, OBE.
Brian delved into the history of the Premier’s Cup; a past entwined with the KATS programme and its appeal for funding.
“The KATS programme commenced in 1990 with the intention of promoting children’s safety around and in the sea,” he said. “It opens up recreational use of the sea to the BVI’s youth and exposes them to careers in the marine industries,” he continued. Offering sea and watersports skills of all types, the courses are run for the entire year, endeavouring to fulfil this noble mission.
The concept of the Premier’s Cup International Youth Regatta evolved from an event started in St Thomas by the Rotary Club of St Thomas II called The Governor’s Cup Regatta in the early 90s. The Governor’s Cup was an offshoot of the KATS initiative started by Ron Sherwood, Natalie Peters and Dr. Ted Cummins and sponsored by the Rotary Club of St Thomas II in 1987, following the tragic drowning of three boy-scouts on a camping expedition.
Overcoming the obstacles of natural hazards and scheduling challenges, the regatta evolved from a one-day event to an occasion featuring eight teams from St Thomas to Trinidad by July 1999 – it was the first youth team regatta in the Caribbean. The only cost to participate was and is travel to Tortola.
The teams sailed J24’s donated by boat owners throughout the Virgin Islands though this has changed to IC24’s also generously given. The event forged friendships and held success in its mission of unifying Caribbean islands; following, it has progressed to celebrate 15 years in its achievement. The name change in 2009 to the Premier’s Cup—with a change in the BVI Constitution—did not alter the goals or nature of the event.
Brian explained that the harshest difficulty faced has been the ability for invited teams to source funding to cover their travel costs to the BVI. “For teams and individuals having those financial challenges, we look to their local Rotary chapters to assist in supporting participant’s travel costs,” he said. “Here in the BVI, KATS remains extremely thankful to the many Premier’s Cup sponsors we have had over the events 16 year tenure.”
Sponsorship of the Premier’s Cup provides for operation of the KATS swimming, sea skills, sailing and scuba programs. This year’s Platinum sponsors are Digicel and Nanny Cay and Gold sponsors are NAGICO, The Moorings and The Rotary Club of Road Town. Additionally, the Premier’s Cup has several Silver and many Bronze sponsors that help make all the KATS programmes possible.