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Women on the Water

Emma Paull  –  Sailing instructor Emma Paull grew up on an island, Great Britain, and learned to sail at a very young age. She wants to offer the same opportunity to the youth of our Islands.

Yacht Guide: How did you first get into sailing?
Emma Paull: My dad learned to sail in Sea Scouts. He had open boats, built boats, fixed boats. These were the times when at the age of fourteen or fifteen, you could go sailing for miles. For instance, in BVI terms, it would be like a fourteen or fifteen year old finding a boat, fixing it all up and then going sailing up to North Sound and over to Jost and camping out all by himself. That’s how he grew up.
    My mum got into sailing through a community sailing centre in Southampton, and then she was an instructor for the sailing centre. She used to live on the Isle of Wight, which is like an hour and a half sail, and she’d go back and forth, sort of like sailing from here to St Thomas. Again, she used to go sailing around and do all her own things as well. Before the world of health and safety cared about what your children were doing.
    My mother met my father when she bought a little 22-foot boat from him. They got together, and did yacht deliveries to earn money. So, my first sailing experience was being in a baby carriage on boat deliveries. When it got to a point that having a toddler on board was just a bit too tricky and too dangerous, Mum and I would stay home.
    My first proper sailing was age six at our local yacht club.  From age six to ten, I did that program, then from eleven to nineteen, I competitively sailed in Topppers then 420’s where I took part in three world championships.

: How does sailing in the BVI compare to sailing in the UK?
EP: The opportunities out here are amazing. The sailing out here is amazing, and the opportunities to give back are amazing. I have been working with the Royal BVI Yacht Club as a volunteer and staff member for seven years, and they offer several programs for young sailors.

: How has youth sailing progressed in the BVI?
EP: In 2004, we took the first team to local regattas. In 2007, we started the sailing team. KATS moved their sailing program to the club in 2008, and now we have more KATS sailors coming out of KATS and into the other programs. The next goal is to get into the schools. Eventually, we’d like to offer every child who’s in school here the opportunity to try and understand sailing.

YG: The BVI has never won an Olympic medal. Do you think that will change soon?
EP: The BVI Olympic Committe believes the three most likely sports for us to medal in are athletics,tennis and sailing. We’ve had eight Olympians in sailing that have gone to the games. Alec Anderson is our 2012 hopeful. There’s also the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010, Inigo Collins will be representing the BVI for that. And a youth camp for the games which Dontae Hodge was selected to go to out of all the BVI athletes. By 2011, we should have enough sailors to be able to compete in the Pan Am Games, and we’d like to host the Optimist North Americans in the BVI in 2011 or 2012.

: What are your personal future plans?
EP: I am developing my own personal and professional sailing.  I have been teaching at the club for the past 7 years, and I want to develop my qualifications into keelboat instruction and being a trainer, so I can teach more dinghy instructors. The quality of the sailors on this island is really high, and you’re constantly learning when you sail with them, so I also want to go back to my singlehanded and team sailing, especially the ladies' team again.

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