The 2018 Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) Annual Conference ended on a high yesterday at the Starfish Jolly Beach Resort, Antigua in a final session where it was agreed that sailing development and specifically support of youth development across the region remains one of the biggest focuses of the organization.

Newly elected President Alison Sly-Adams of Antigua Sailing Week summarized the initiatives in her opening remarks of the conference, “The CSA Rating rule is the backbone of the organization, it being the rule which allows us to operate fair racing across the entire region in our regattas but to grow our regattas we have to make sailing accessible to the majority. The CSA will continue to utilize its ability to coordinate resources at a regional level in order to provide development opportunities and an increase in the numbers of people coming into the sport of sailing across all of its member countries”.

The event was attended by fifty sailing professionals from around the region including regatta organisers, measurers, yacht club and race programme managers. Key focusses over the next year will include rolling out the Youth to Keel programme piloted during Antigua Sailing Week, the re-launch of the rating rule on a new platform before the end of the year, support and development of the race charter market across all countries and rolling out a Resort Instructor Course to clubs and programmes around the region.

For a few it was the first conference they have attended. Frederic Sweeney of St. Lucia attending for the first time was part of the measurement team but as with many wears multiple hats. He is also on the board of the National Sailing Association, the Sailing School Manager and an instructor as well as being involved in all of the local regattas. Of the conference he said, “I have never been to one of these events and I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to this time. It has been very insightful and motivating for me and I have taken a lot away from it which will be great for the St. Lucia sailing community”

Instructor Nicholas Dupre from St. Kitts attended the conference for the first time said, “It was very reassuring to understand that other islands with more developed sailing programs were so welcoming. I feel even more motivated to try to get our sailors to share in training and attend competitions with other islands. I feel that we in the Caribbean are so much stronger as a team if we work together and continue to have one of the best sailing playgrounds in the world.” He went on to say, “I was also happy to see that our work towards building sailing in St. Kitts meant something and that our opinions and comments were valued and respected by others in the Caribbean. We all have our own challenges based on our size and where we are on the sailing development curve along island politics but we all want the same thing and working together will help us to achieve it.”

Returning Regatta Director Michele Korteweg of the St. Maarten Heineken Regattas has been to a number of conferences over the years but still finds the event an important slot on her annual planning calendar. “It is refreshing to be in a room of people who get that although our events compete with each other to some extent, we know that if we can develop opportunities to work together such as on promoting the Caribbean Calendar, this will bring more boats to the region and thus benefit us all. Discussing our challenges helps us rethink the way we do things and keeps all of the regattas on their toes in terms of reviewing event formats and ensuring they are still relevant. Team St Maarten would not miss this event.”

The new board for the year lead by President Alison Sly-Adams from Antigua include returning members Pam Fuller from the Tortola, Mike Green from St Lucia, Bobby Hillier from St. Maarten, Jaime Torres from Puerto Rico, Mark Theron from Nevis and newly elected board member Karen Stiell of Grenada. Chief Measurer remains Bastien Pouthier from Trinidad. An amendment to the by-laws was also voted on to confirm a new ex-officio board member to represent World Sailing Group O.

The CSA would like to thank the sponsors of the conference Velour Imports, Tendrr, Antigua Sailing Week, Starfish Jolly Beach Resort and Sailors for the Sea for their support as well as their active involvement in the event.

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