The Barbados Sailing Association and Set Sail training programmes incorporated the following two events into the World Sailing Steering the Course Festival, in order to highlight our female youth sailors and to add depth to their sail training experience.

On Saturday May 29, 7 youth females learned the art of radio controlled boat sailing and racing at a freshwater pond on the east coast. Peter “Rabbit” Allen and Jason Tindale were on hand to show the girls how to control the boats with the two toggles, then they were off and running. Our youth sailors were quite adept at the hand controls, and showed off their sailing knowledge by (mostly) keeping the boats on the course and out of the weeds (the pond water is very low right now, due to drought and farming, so the girls learned what “in the weeds” really means!). Every other woman there had a go at the controls, and there were a couple of times we had to gently pry the controls from a dad’s hands – I think at least one has caught the bug along with his daughter!

On Sunday, May 30, we had a training regatta in nearshore Carlisle Bay, with 10 youth females equally participating in two classes: the Optimist and Taz dinghies. The wind was clocked at over 35 knots in the bay, so it was no wonder that the safety boats spent a fair amount of time assisting and monitoring the sailors as they capsized more than once, especially in the Taz fleet. And yet, not a single one of the sailors complained about the strong winds, the capsizing or the fact that some did not even get over the start line of the single race we managed in those conditions. Instead, there were ear-splitting smiles of how well they managed, that they are sure they will never have a problem “uncapsizing” their boats again, and that heavy winds are not insurmountable, especially not for these girls.

We finished up the day with some snacks and sailing stories, and the girls can hardly wait for another go at both events during the summer sailing camps. In truth, we will be including all of our youth sailors during the summer events, as all of our youth deserve the same opportunities, however, this time the girls have led the way!

The photography of Peter Marshall captured the joy, effort and skills of our youth female sailors; we are thankful for his skills behind the lens, and the whole Barbados sailing family is proud of this group of female sailors and their determination to keep on learning and sailing.

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