Rob Holden, Training Manager for South African Sailing, is midway through the first-ever ISAF Training Scholarship course run at Rockley Academy in Great Britain.
Thanks to funding from the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Olympic Solidarity Rob is the first candidate to attend the ISAF Training Scholarship course, based at the Rockley Academy in Poole, Great Britain.
Dan Jaspers, ISAF Training and Development Manager, explained the basic idea behind the new Scholarship course, "The course is aimed at training potential MNA Training managers. It is an eight-week scholarship, run at the newly formed Rockley Academy arm of Rockley Watersports, which takes the candidate through all aspects of training in dinghies, catamarans and windsurfers. It will also equip them with the skills to set up, monitor, inspect and accredit clubs and centres in their own MNA."
Ahead of the start of the Scholarship course, Rob explained a little more about his sailing background and what got him interested in the sport and how to assist its development in his nation. "If I go back as far as I can remember I have always wanted to sail. One incident that stands out for me is when I was about nine years old I was visiting Cape Town with my parents. One day I was standing on the waterfront looking out to sea where some boats were racing and although I could hardly see them I just wanted to stand and watch them and hopefully learn something that would offer me an opportunity to one day sail.
"I then went to a private school where sailing was offered as a sport but I was there because my parents only had to pay ten percent of the fees that the others paid so I was not seen to be in the class to sail. Fortunately the library at the school subscribed to the South African sailing magazine so I read these cover to cover and dreamt that one day I would be able to sail.
"In the early eighties sailing in South Africa was booming so they did not want people like me who could not afford a boat dragging the sport down, or this was the impression that I had. I continued to try to find a way to enter the sailing arena but there was never an opportunity that allowed me to enter the sport.
"At about 24 years of age I married my wife Elfie and we really wanted a sport that we could do together and again I looked at sailing but scuba diving was accessible so we tried this only to find that Elfie felt claustrophobic and it was not competitive enough for me. About a year later Elfie and I bought a small business and as soon as I could convince her (the accountant) that we had enough money to buy a boat I went out and bought a catamaran (everyone in South Africa has heard about a catamaran so we all buy them). I knew of a sailing club on a lake about 75 kilometres away from where we lived so we went out there only to find a big gate with NO ENTRY MEMBERS ONLY on it so we went round the corner to a public launch and with very little knowledge launched our boat and started sailing.
"My dream come true? No this was not what I wanted to do I wanted to be part of a community who eat, drink, and sleep sailing, so one day when the club was racing on the lake we sailed up to the rescue boat and capsized a few metres from them, this forced them to speak to me and it turns out they are great people who are really looking for new members to join their club, so we joined and my dream is still coming true, beyond my wildest dreams.
"Because I had such a hard time getting into sailing I promised myself that I would do everything I can to make Sailing accessible to all. I moved to Mossel Bay one of the best sailing venues in South Africa and started to teach children to sail. The program gained momentum and to date we have introduced almost 300 children who otherwise would never have even looked at sailing to the wonderful sport of sailing. Because of this sailing school and my passion to teach I got involved on national level with setting up a properly structured national training system. Just when I got involved we found that ISAF also had the vision of structured training around the world and now I am in England at Rockley International on a ISAF scholarship program that will give me the tools to develop a safe well managed training system in South Africa.
"As I said Dream come True much bigger than I could have dreamed and hopefully this will mean thousands of South Africans getting good safe training in the world's greatest sport SAILING!!"
Follow updates on Rob as he attends the first ISAF Training Scholarship course at the ISAF Training microsite www.sailing.org/training .
For more details on the ISAF Training Scholarship and how you or your MNA can get involved, contact Dan Jaspers, ISAF Training and Development Manager, via the link below.
Click here to contact Dan.
About The ISAF Sail Training Scholarship
The Scholarship will develop instructing skills in sailing at all levels including advanced performance dinghies, catamarans, windsurfing and powerboating within a small boat environment. Candidates will be taught how to teach others and how to manage an accredited Sail Training Centre. The ISAF Scholarship will also develop candidate's knowledge on all aspects of running a nationally accredited Sail Training Scheme.
To find out more about the Scholarship please click on the links below:
Click here for a detailed guide to the ISAF Sail Training Scholarship
Click here for the National Sail Training Programme - Development Guide
ISAF Training site - www.sailing.org/training
Click here to contact Dan.