The first National Sailing Academy Graduation which took place last week resulted in 59 girls and 61 boys being awarded three different levels of performance.

Of the numbers, General Manager Alison Sly-Adams says, “We are very happy to see so many girls starting and advancing in the programme. We’ve see quite a shift in the last three years, and are equally seeing increasing interest in sailing at all ages and all levels of ability”

In his welcome speech Chief Instructor and Watersports Manger Sylvester Thomas thanked the parents present for entrusting their children to the care of the NSA. “ We thank you for trusting your children in our hands. We are here to show them what is possible and with some many of our past students going into careers in the industry, we are proving that it works. For example, all of our instructors here, learned to sail at the National Sailing Academy.”

Three different certificates were awarded on the day: Basic Skills with assistance, which means students can rig and launch their boat, sail downwind, sail a simple course, return to the dock and de-rig, all under the supervision of an instructor; RYA Stage 1, meaning they can achieve all of the afore-mentioned independently; and, Rya Stage 2 where they can gybe, sail a more complex course and in general have more confidence in their sailing ability.

It’s the first time that the schools’ programme attendees have been awarded RYA Certificates. Only students who attended at least 10 weeks of school consistently were recognized. Of the new initiative Sylvester commented,” We felt it was time to be more structured in the programme and also use this as a way of motivating the children to come back to achieve their levels over the years. The more confidence they have now, the more sailing will stick with them through their lives, whether as a career, sport or merely a leisure option.”

The students awarded certificates were from X schools: Potters Primary School, Cobbs Cross Primary School, Golden Grove Primary School, Liberta Primary School, S Olivia David Primary School, Irene B Williams Secondary School, Ottos Comprehensive Secondary School, Sir Novelle Richards Academy, Clare Hall Secondary School plus students who only attend sailing on Saturdays and Duke of Edinburgh Award Group who attend with the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force.

It was also the first time that the adult Sailability students were awarded certificates. Ronald Greenaway, coordinator of the National Rehabilitation programme said, “It was wonderful to see the smiling faces of our group, from the long time sailors who come every week and have built up their skills over a number of years, to the newer attendees. It’s a part of our week which we love, and very much appreciate the time and effort put in by the NSA to ensure we can continue to be a part of the programme.

Sylvester Thomas continues, ‘For the NSA its really important that we continue to share how much sailing can be a part of anyone’s life, Our strapline is Inclusive Sailing, and given the equality of genders attending and our sailability programme, we are well on the way to allowing everyone to experience the joy off sailing. Now we’d like to see more adults reaching out to us. We know that for many Antiguan families, parents were never given an opportunity to sail, and have a fear of the water to this day. We are here to welcome people, and to help them overcome that fear”.

Even though term time has ended, the NSA will be open all summer with Saturday sailing continuing, a new Summer Pass for existing students, and RYA and Casual learn to sail courses available at local rates throughout the summer months. Students are encouraged to keep attending over the summer to increase their time on their water and their overall skills.

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