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GIVING BACK TO THE SPORT

Both as a sailor and as a coach, I’ve had the opportunity to witness, firsthand, the importance of giving back to the sailing community. I grew up sailing at a yacht club situated in a small suburb just outside of Toronto, Ontario. As the summers passed and I grew older, I honed my skills to become one of the top youth sailors in Canada. In order to give back to the program that reared me, I began teaching summer camp and coaching the Optimist racing team. After my first summer, I was motivated to improve and upgrade the short two-week camp into a full summer racing program. This program allowed the kids to progress to a level that I was never exposed to at their age. After seeing three full summers of this plan in action, I was proud of the regatta results and the overall improvements of the young sailors. This was when I truly felt like I had made an impact on the program that had given me so much.

Upon attaining my current position as the head instructor of Royal British Virgin Islands Yacht Club and coach of the BVI sailing team, I was quite keen to work in a program that makes such an impact on a close-knit community. Through the KATS program, I have been able to work with a great group of eager kids who might not normally have the opportunity to sail. Beginner afterschool programs have allowed me to work with children who show a strong interest in sailing at a young age. This shows great promise for the local BVI sailing scene. Working extensively with the BVI Sailing Team has always been the highlight of my job as racing is my passion. As the coach of a group of young and talented sailors, I feel that it is important to try and instil some of the morals and values that turn a skilled sailor into a great sailor within a community. Notably, many of the kids on the team have taken to this and have been volunteering to help out the program and local community.

Jason Putley is one of the BVI’s top youth sailors, and not just for the fact that he places well in competition. He frequently volunteers at the yacht club, whether it be helping repair and clean our fleet of Optimists or assisting with the after-school beginner lessons. At only 12 years of age, he is already making an impact within the BVI sailing community by helping to create a fun and energetic environment for the 5 and 6 year-olds he assists in the afterschool lessons.

  DonTae' Hodge puts his back into it. Photo courtesy of Chris Watters.

DonTae' Hodge is a talented young sailor who came up through the KATS program and showed great skill from an early age. He became a part of the BVI Sailing Team and has represented the BVI all over the world in the Optimist class and now in the Laser 4.7 and Radial classes. As a product of the KATS program, he understands the importance of giving back to the community and has been a great help with running holiday sailing camps and volunteering for the BVI Spring Regatta.

Former BVI Sailing Team member, Chris Brockbank, organized a very successful remote-control boat regatta for a school project. Chris donated all the proceeds generated from the regatta to the BVI Sailing Team in order to offset some of the costs of registration and travelling to off-island events. Chris has also has given more than money to the program he learn to sail in; in the past, he has donated his time to help out with summer sailing camps.

Jason, DonTae' and Chris are incredible examples of what separates a skilled sailor from a great sailor. A great sailor understands the importance of the local community, and always gives back for what they have received from the BVI sailing team.  As a coach, I’m rewarded to see kids from the team making a difference at such a young age. I encourage sailors of every age to give back to the community in order to preserve the sport and pastime that has given so much to so many of us. 

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UPCOMING RACES

Quantum Sails IC24 International Regatta     12 – 13 Jun
Lowell Wheatley Anegada Pursuit Race    26 Jun
Firecracker (WEYC race)     3 Jul
Premier’s Cup     10 – 11 Jul
Manhattan Yacht Club Trophy Race    18 Jul
Back to Schools Regatta     4 – 5 Sep
Open Sail to Norman Island     25 Sep
Pete Sheals Match Racing     2 – 3 Oct
Willy-T Virgins Cup Race     9 Oct
BVI Schools Regatta     30 – 31 Oct
Drakes Channel Treasure Hunt     6 Nov
Round Tortola Race      20 Nov
O'Neal & Mundy Commodores Cup & Prizes     18 Dec

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