The third annual Sir Durward Knowles National Junior Sailing Championship is coming to Grand Bahama.
For the first time in the Championship’s short history, Grand Bahama will play host to over 100 junior sailors this coming April 6-7, 2018 at Taino Beach.
Cindy Gape of the Ministry of Agriculture and Regatta Desk, along with race directors Robert Dunkley, director at The Bahamas National Sailing School and Dallas Knowles, met with this daily this past Wednesday to announce the upcoming event.
Gape mentioned that the goal of the tournament is to bring as much junior sailors from around the country together, as the Ministry views it as a method to keep the pulse of the sport pumping.
“We want to bring in all of the clubs from around The Bahamas, that’s just about from every island in The Bahamas, to participate in this regatta. This is one of the ways that the Ministry sees of keeping sailing alive; by putting it to our young children.
“We’re going to be sailing all kinds of boats. We’re going to be sailing from sloops, E-Class to lasers, opti’s and sun fish. Over 100 kids from the various family islands will be participating.”
Gape added the reasoning behind hosting the regatta on different islands is to promote the sport even more.
Dunkley has been with the National Sailing School since 2011 and in those years the Director has seen a tremendous amount of growth.
“One of the great things, I think, in trying to get more children involved is our involvement in getting into the Government schools, and as a part of that working with Cindy and the Regatta Desk, we’re at the point now where this would be the third time we’re going to have the Durward Knowles Sailing Championship.”
The junior sailing championship was first held in Exuma, before making it’s way to New Providence the following year. With the third annual event approaching Dunkley listed which islands he anticipated to be a part of the festivities.
“This year we anticipate from 100-110 sailors from around the country. When I say that I mean from Georgetown (Exuma), Long Island, Harbour Island, of course here (Grand Bahama), Nassau and Abaco.”
Grand Bahama Regatta and Homecoming Chairman Chervita Campbell also chimed in on hosting the upcoming junior national sailing tournament. Campbell deemed it an honor for Grand Bahama to play host and voiced it was a great opportunity to teach the younger generation about “our culture’s history.”
“It also gives us an opportunity for adults to see what junior sailing entails and try to learn more about our cultural sport. We within the Grand Bahama Regatta and Homecoming committee often find our challenges with the general public support and most of the time it’s because of the lack of knowledge or understanding of what sailing is all about.
“And hopefully by seeing all of the different, young family islanders come to our shores to sail naturally with enjoyment and pleasure it would give us as local residents a greater opportunity and passion to want to learn what it is to be sailing.”
As a representative of the Exuma Sailing Club, Knowles noted that the sailing championships came about after the junior portion of the National Family Island Regatta did receive the focus that it needed. Now as a stand alone event Knowles feels that the junior sailors get the just recognition.
Knowles is also in charge of the E-Class portion of the championships and voiced what could be expected come April 6-7.
“I represent the native sloops that are going to be sailing here, the small junior E-Class boats. I will be bringing eight of those from Exuma along with another four or six from Nassau. It’s usually the largest gathering of E-Class boats that race throughout the year.
“The kids really enjoy sailing on them. I think it really helps to keep the tradition of the sloops alive by getting the juniors into the boats early, using the smaller junior boats to train them and get them interested so they can move up into the bigger classes and we can keep the entire thing going as long as possible.
“It’s really nice working with Cindy and the Regatta Desk. they’re very efficient and on the ball and they make things very easy for us so we’re very happy to be a part of the team.”