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29 May 2003, 12:28 pm
More Boats Needed for Juniors
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Sailors on the 2002 Olympic Solidarity Course

Sailing Cook Islands

Manihiki Sailing Club began with 2 home built Optimists. It didn't take long for the number of local children keen to learn to sail to far exceed the facilities available. The Club is now appealing for funds to buy new boats for their 80 junior sailors.

It soon became necessary that an organized approach to coaching and instruction be undertaken to ensure all the children benefit from the use of the two boats. It also became obvious that water safety instructions had to be introduced to build water confidence for some of the children who still suffered from trauma of their experience of Cyclone Martin (1 November 1997).

A plea was made to friends at the Rarotonga Sailing Club and Sailing Cook Islands for assistance, which with some financial assistance from friends, five second-hand unused `P' Class dinghies from Rarotonga Sailing Club were shipped to Manihiki in 2000. Throughout 2000 and 2001 sailing was held on free Saturdays and during school holidays. In July/August of 2001 Sailing Cook Islands sponsored one coach and two emerging junior sailors from Manihiki to participate in an Olympic Solidarity course in Rarotonga and Aitutaki in their championships as well as the National Optimist championship. A request was made to Sailing Cook Islands for a similar event to be held in Manihiki in 2002. Assistance was also requested to source more Optimist sailing dinghies for Manihiki.

In early 2002, for the first time a full executive was elected with fundraising and social committees made up of parents and supporters who realized the potential and abilities that their children have and could achieve in participating in sailing club activities. A fundraising drive was begun with raffles and food stalls as well as weekly housie nights. Six refurbished Optimists was sourced by Sailing Cook Islands and costs met by the Manihiki Sailing Club. The boats arrived in Manihiki at the end of March. At the same period a club house and boat shed was built with local materials by volunteer labour. This boathouse was opened on 13th April 2002 as well as a blessing on our new boats - Six Optimists, one 303 racer, donated by Gary Wagstaff of Wellington NZ. Our boat fleet now consists of eight Optimists, five P-Class and one 303 racer. However, eight Optimists are not enough for 81 children registered with the club since extending sailing to the villages of Tauhunu and Tukao in May of 2002.

In preparation for our first Olympic Solidarity Course and our first Manihiki Optimist Championship in July 2002 - sailing clinics were held during the months of April to July in both villages of Tauhunu and Tukao. Forty-four junior sailors passed their Able Sailors Certificates. Ten adults participated in the Olympic Solidarity Course, which was conducted by 15 coaches/instructors from Rarotonga. The top six sailors of the Manihiki Optimist Championships was funded by MSC to participate in the Rarotonga and Cook Islands National Optimist Championships - a first for a team of junior sailors from Manihiki. Their results were notable because three of our sailors got into the `gold fleet.' One sailor, Taua Elisa qualified for the National Squad to the 4th Oceania Optimist Champs and with our second top sailor Dyer Napara also selected to travel with the team as sixth sailor. Taua Elisa and Dyer Napara were placed 20th and 38th respectively out of 54 in the Oceania Champs held in Apia, Samoa. All Manihiki is very proud of this achievement.

The objective of the Manihiki Sailing Club is to promote and develop the sport of sailing as well as other water sport activities in Manihiki like canoe paddling. We are also planning to revive the traditional skills of pu-ni (vaka) sailing. Initially our main emphasis has been on establishing a sound base for our junior sailor's development. Building on their successes as they progress from Optimist class boats to larger international class boats such as Sunbursts, Lasers and to boardsailing. (Lasers and Mistral boards are South Pacific Games and Olympic classes). At the same time re-introduce those enthusiastic adults back to sailing. Generations have been lost to outboard motor boats. In earlier times the main propulsion for water transport here was in sailing pearl luggers and sailing puni's (canoes-vaka's).

Our goal is to have every child in Manihiki become an able sailor (i.e.: pass our learn to sail clinics to full certification.) Also be competent enough to handle an Optimist dinghy in the lagoon as well as open water. Our sailing program is aimed to achieve that with our 5-6 year olds involved in learn to swim, diving, water safety and water confidence coaching. All junior sailors and those who pass our able sailors certificates must first pass our stringent water safety competence instructions. The reason being is that Manihiki is an isolated, water bound atoll with a lagoon where every ones life here is involved with the sea and the necessity to learn from the past Cyclone Martin. Many children required the re-building of their water confidence especially those who were traumatized.

Our sailing program - learn to sail clinics, training, coaching and instructions, sailing regattas, all pass on life skills to our children. Our clinic instructions covers such topics as learning sailing skills, water safety, rules of the road, boat handling, first-aid - CPR, health, physical fitness, environment and conservation issues, importance of following instructions having responsibilities, leadership, proper attitude, developing mutual respect as well as good sportsmanship.

Sailing Cook Islands (As Amended by ISAF Secretariat)
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