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What is the Connect to Sailing initiative?

The Connect to Sailing initiative of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) was established as a concept in 2004. The aim of Connect to Sailing is to increase global grass roots (learn to sail) participation in all categories of sailing outside of elite or high performance activity. The Connect to Sailing initiative is enabling all nations, be they new, emerging or developing nations to grow awareness of, and increase accessibility to the sport of sailing. A specific focus has been placed by the initiative on engaging with young participants, helping give these future sailors an enjoyable start to the sport that will keep them engaged for a lifetime.

Since the official launch of Connect to Sailing in 2009, alongside the appointment of a dedicated Training and Development department within the International Sailing Federation, over 55 Nations across all continents have benefitted from the support of the Connect to Sailing initiative. The ISAF national and regional sailing coach education clinics (called Technical Courses for Coaches) have succeeded in training on average 200 coaches per year, over 80% of these working specifically in the Participation or 'Learn to Sail' area of sail training delivery.

In addition to developing the coaches that will deliver the training at dedicated sailing venues around the world, the annual Sport-specific ISAF Training Scholarship, launched in 2010, has also worked with 29 coaches representing 27 nations, over the course of an intensive 8 weeks worth of practical and theoretical activity, designed to develop those individuals responsible for managing a National Sail Training Programme. The Connect to Sailing initiative is also striving to support long-term sustainability of the programmes it helps to develop by offering all nations the opportunity to benefit from on-going support from the Training and Development department of ISAF.

The Connect to Sailing initiative is unique in the fact that, alongside a country's National Sailing Federation it can work directly with not only National Olympic Committees, National Sports and Education Ministries, the educational sector (Schools, Colleges and Universities), but also with community outreach initiatives at regional and/or local level.

Successes from the many programmes supported by the Connect to Sailing initiative include the following:

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Supporting the National Sailing Federation in Papua New Guinea in mentoring their National Training Manager so that the delivery of training in the country would be aligned to international standards. Supporting South African Sailing in the training of their first ever Nationally appointed coaches. These coaches went on to create a National Sports Ministry approved training syllabus which, amongst other successes, supported the training of previously dis-advantaged children from South African townships, helping them access sailing for the first time.
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Working with a new National Sailing Federation is important in terms of helping them access the guidelines and resources required to set up the right level of programme. Here, the St Kitts and Nevis Sailing Association is being helped to develop the infrastructure required for them to effectively deliver the first ever national sailing-specific Summer Camp for young people on the islands. Working with sailing coaches, (some of which were young sailors keen to become coaches) and National Sailing Federation leaders in Vietnam to assist in the development of a sail training syllabus and standard operating procedures that can be delivered nationally and which will help to increase employment of Vietnamese coaches working at these accredited sail training centres.
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Supporting the Development of National Structures for sailing is all part of the initiative. Here, the National Cook Islands Sailing Federation was encouraged to invite local school teachers to bring their children to take part in organised sailing activities, delivered by young sailors taking part in an existing regional youth competition. This helped the schoolchildren to see how much fun sailing can be and also want to represent their nation in similar events in future. Connect to Sailing helps sailing federations identify that nationally and regionally significant competitions / events such as the All Africa Games (AAG) can provide Sports recognized by the Organising Authority and host nation sports ministries the possibility of an increase in support. By working with the sailing federation in Mozambique ahead of the 2011 AAG, funding for a national youth training programme and associated equipment was made possible.

The Connect to Sailing partners (listed via this link) have helped support the initiative by enabling National Sailing Federations to access equipment and services related to the deliver of sail training. The opportunity for many of the new, emerging and developing nations to speak directly to the Connect to Sailing Partners regarding their needs at national and/or local level has proved to be invaluable, with many of the current partners benefitting from the setting up of national dealerships for equipment as well as unique partnerships for their services.

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