BzSA Youth to attend a World Class Laser Sailing Clinic on Antigua, West Indies - The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) will hold a 5-day Laser Sailing Clinic at the National Sailing Academy on Antigua, West Indies - 14 to 21 July. This clinic and four others like it in other regions of the world launch the 2015 Youth Worlds Emerging Nations Program.
“Belize has been invited to attend,” commented Forrest Jones, Public Relations Officer, Belize Sailing Association. “The ease and the joy with which the Belize Sailing Association (BzSA) is able to accept the stunning and quite unexpected invitation are made possible in no small part by ISAF's generosity. ISAF is underwriting virtually all significant expenses of those who participate.”
BzSA is now among the Member Nation Authorities (MNAs) that ISAF recognizes, added Jones. The goal of ISAF's Emerging Nation Youth World Clinics is to give skills and knowledge that both the sailors and their coaches will take home and use to build and further develop sailing training and racing in their home countries, all for the benefit of future generations.
The Laser Clinic 8. From top to bottom, Isaac Ritchie, Antonio Ricardez, Patrick Rhamdas, Blanca Velasquez, Sarah White, Jorge Olivarez, Jerdon Anderson, Christopher Young
Laser craft sailing clinic held in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
To this end, part one of the ISAF program provides funds for BzSA to send one coach and up to three sailors to the 5-day clinic, as long as one of them is female. BzSA's share of the costs is limited to funding one half of the airfare, which is estimated to be $400.00 US per person. BzSa will be seeking financial support to meet this expense.
Part two of the ISAF Youth Worlds Emerging Nations Program involves ISAF funding for some who excel in the clinic to go on to the 2015 ISAF Youth Worlds Championship regatta set to be held in Langkawi, Malaysia from December 27, 2015 to January 3, 2016.
Six months ago, such things were BzSA pipedreams, says Jones.
Setting elation, finances, logistics, and high hopes aside for the moment, there is another big hurdle to face for our young Belizean sailors and that would be to sail the Lasers (crafts) well enough. Lasers are high performance racing boats used in the Olympics; handling them requires sophistication. The actual sailing ability that BzSA's young sailors will need to participate in any meaningful way is being made possible by the Belize Sailing Center, www.belizesaiingschool.com, a commercial venture.
Only a few of BzSA's potential candidates for international clinical Laser training have had more than a cursory introduction to Lasers. At the beginning of 2015, BzSA members knew of only six Lasers scattered about the country. Then, on January 30, 2015, the Belize Sailing Center's fleet of ten brand new, race-rigged, Laser Radials arrived in San Pedro, followed shortly thereafter by Juan Mazzini, the Sailing Center's young and charismatic professional sailing instructor. Andrew Milner, BzSA's Development Officer and one of the founders of the Sailing Center, proposed that the Sailing Center make its brand new Lasers and its professional coach available for free, so that BzSA's young sailors could adequately prepare. The Center's other shareholders, several of whom are also on the BzSA Board, unanimously and enthusiastically agreed.
BzSA and the Sailing Center's Coach Mazzini organized a 10-day intensive Laser training clinic to be held during Belize's academic spring vacation. BzSA's sailing clubs recommended candidates to attend.
The eight who did are:
Antonio Ricardez, 14, Belize City,
Christopher Young, 15, Corozal,
Isaac Ritchie,15, Placencia,
Patrick Rhamdas,15, Placencia,
Jerdon Anderson, 15, San Pedro,
Jorge Olivarez, 15, San Pedro,
Blanca Velasquez, 14, San Pedro,
Sarah White, 14, San Pedro.
Laser Clinic Coaches - Jeff Scott (Placencia), Andrew Milner (BzSa), Juan Mazzini (San Pedro) & Tony Ricardez (Belize City)
Laser Clinic both on and off the water with San Pedro Coach Juan Mazzini
The first five days, March 28 through April 1, were devoted to vessel familiarization ashore and rigorous drills afloat. Laser sailors need to be fit, they need to learn to make complex sail adjustments using four different lines, even when underway and particularly at high winds. The days that followed found the eight sailors competing in 12 races. This was the selection regatta, testing endurance as well as skill. The final standings determined which BzSA sailors have received the ISAF invitations to Antigua.
Most consistent of all was Antonio Ricardez of Belize City who carried home the 1st Place win. Finishing in 2nd Place was Jerdon Anderson of San Pedro. They are headed for Antigua, as is Blanca Velasquez, Belize's female representative and current Optimist Class champion. Christopher Young from Corozal will serve as alternate for taking 3rd Place.
The coach and the BzSA board members in charge report that each of the sailors who finished out of the running had shining moments to be very proud of. Patrick Rhamdas finished 4th; Jorge Olevares 5th; and Isaac Ritchie 6th. The girls, Blanca Velasquez and Sarah White, took up the rear, 7th and 8th respectively. In the Laser Youth Worlds, girls compete against each other, not against boys.
BzSA congratulates all 8 of its candidates for participating and for the rapid progress each has made in acquiring Laser sailing skills. Coach Mazzini and others ensured that the sailors who did not qualify for Antigua did not fail. They were encouraged to fully understand that this is still quite a milestone and merely the first Laser engagement of the many that can be their future.
(Note: ISAF is to sailing what FIFA is to futbol. The water sports supported by ISAF include virtually every imaginable class of sailboat from Offshore to Multi Hull to Keelboats to Dinghies such as Optimists and Lasers, and even to kite boards and wind surfers. ISAF is the most widely accepted authority on the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS). Advantages of being an ISAF class include holding World Championships, obtaining Race Officials, and receiving development support such as this youth program offered to emerging nations. ISAF defines "Youth" in the context of Laser sailing as being at least 14 but not yet 19.)