The programme involves short courses in each country with two small local regattas and will end with group participation in the Schoelcher Regatta in Martinique.
The coach, Fernando Alegre ("Happy") from Peru, is visiting Bequia (St. Vincent), Grenada, St. Lucia, Barbados and Trinidad. As well as coaching instructor skills he is reviewing the structure in each island group to ensure the best use of facilities and equipment. IODA is paying travel and fees, with accommodation being sponsored locally.
The first mini-regatta was held in Grenada on the w/e of 25/26 January at the base kindly loaned by Neilson Active Holidays. Two sailors were invited from each of the other islands to give "Happy" the chance to give his coaching apprentices valuable experience in observing and fine tuning proper Optimist sailing and racing skills. A further mini-regatta will be held in Barbados in February.
The programme is the latest initiative in the Optimist Class's ongoing promotion in the South Caribbean, where only Trinidad had Optimists until just three years ago. St. Lucia, Barbados and Bequia have all received free boats or equipment on the basis of 20% grants towards local purchases.
Sailors and coaches have also been subsidised to attend the Martinique regatta to gain experience from the more developed French Antilles.