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A Royal Christening

A Royal Christening

The announcement of a pending royal visit is one of mixed emotions, especially if it is not your first one. Having been officially opened in 2005 by HRH Princess Anne, we had a fair idea of what was in store for us at the BVI Watersports Centre.

This time, HRH The Duke of Gloucester was planning to spend time with us to see one specific aspect of our programme—Sailability BVI. Once the planning began for the Duke’s visit, we decided not just to leave him on the dock but to take him afloat where he could get up close and personal with the young sailors. In welcoming HRH The Princess Royal into our Centre seven years ago, we learned that the royal family would prefer to be a part of the action rather than standing stiffly to attention listening to speeches and observing from a distance. We were determined to build on this and arrange to make the Duke’s short time with us as informal as protocol would allow.


Your average sailing school does not have royal visitors every day, so planning begins to ensure that in the hour and ten minutes allotted, the official party is presented to the key people that make an organisation such as ours successful. Sailability BVI is much more than a group of individuals with special needs that enjoy watersports experiences. It can only exist thanks to the enduring and unfaltering guidance of a set of young adults that devote their time and energy to give the disabled students the same opportunity that they have been given. A royal visit highlights this dedication above anything else and is an opportunity to make sure that those volunteers are recognised. Therefore the Duke of Gloucester confidently stepped aboard one of our safety boats with a sixteen-year-old RYA assistant instructor in charge, while two more teenaged RYA assistant instructors ran a group of students sailing dinghies in Sea Cows Bay. Motoring around for the initial ten minutes of his visit enabled the Duke to see firsthand Sailability sailors interacting with able-bodied sailors so seamlessly that they were virtually impossible to distinguish.

The Duke assisted in the christening of four new boats. Dory, funded by Maples, is a smart new Boston Whaler, a much needed second safetyboat selected for her stability and small stature to allow us to have more than one group afloat at a time, thus getting more children on the water. And many of those children will be on the BVI Watersports Centre’s new Laser Bugs. Four were christened during His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester’s visit. Beachbug, sponsored by Forbes Haire, Snugasabug sponsored by Caribbean Insurers Ltd, Lovebug sponsored by Krys Global and Ladybug sponsored by Sovereign Caribbean.


Laser Bugs are fun, easy, adaptable, plastic, reefable, fit for two or three small sailors and have accessories. The accessories make them playful and manageable—taking a lot of the element of intimidation out of sailing. Bugs come equipped with drink holders, oars and wheels built in. Also hidden in the transom are sliding handles that pop out when you want to push your Bug up the dock, just like a wheelbarrow.


We certainly appreciated having HRH The Duke of Gloucester visit the BVI Watersports Centre to show his support of what we do and to help us in christening our new boats which will continue to ensure sailing for all in the British Virgin Islands.

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