In South Africa, an initiative called the Algoa Bay Yacht Club (ABYC) Community Sailing Programme is heavily involved in introducing sailing to as large a number of schoolchildren as possible. Based in Port Elizabeth, the project has been running for two years, with the first year spent on setting up the project and developing skills, and to date in their second year have introduced just under 400 children to sailing.
The Community Sailing Programme operates via two different courses - a short three hour sailing primer and an eight week long dinghy sailing course.
On track to train 4,050 children from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to sail over the next three years, each child will be trained up to dinghy sail an 09'er, with the course consist of 8 sessions over eight weeks, covering safety, knots, rigging, sailing a basic windward/leeward course, launching and retrieval and an introduction to water safety. The 09'er dinghy is a South African developed 'plastic' boat very similar to the Optimist.
The plan also involves identifying suitable development candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds, for high performance sail training in Optimists, Lasers, two person dinghies and a crew for an L26 to campaign in the Lipton Cup. These candidates will attend all the provincial, national and selections regattas in each sailing class.
The Community Sailing Programme is run by a core of coaches - Head Coach, two assistant coaches and four candidate coaches. The head and assistant coaches are employed by ABYC and the four candidate coaches are on a one year accelerated training course.
The pilot programme in which four township schools have been sending their pupils to the sailing school has been an unqualified success.
The Algoa Bay Yacht Club receives funding from General Motors, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality, Metalman, a large bequest from a well known club member and numerous smaller bequests from other club members. The project also sources funding from within its membership, asking members to sponsor a child on a sailing course, at a cost of approximately US$75.00.
The development in the club has been tremendous as the introduction of junior and dinghy sailing has drawn many children and young adults to the club. The availability of crew and their enthusiastic participation has been the impetus needed to get many more boats out on the water.
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For further information on the Algoa Bay Yacht Club (ABYC) Community Sailing Programme visit: www.abyc.org.za