The Belize Sailing Association received an invitation that the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) extended the BSA to participate in the 2015 ISAF Emerging Nations Youth World Programme.

We have begun formal training to prepare our sailors. Here is a group photo of the eight sailors selected for the training, which took place over Easter vacation at the Belize Sailing School,, located on the beach at Caribbean Villas Hotel, in San Pedro.

Click phooto for larger version!
Click photo for larger version!

For more photos, peek at the San Pedro Sailing Club's Facebook page. In particular, look for a story near the top of the page called Laser Clinic Picture Book.

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 Programme.

Belize has been invited to attend. 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 (See note below) is underwriting virtually all significant expenses of those who participate.

BzSA is now among the Member Nation Authorities (MNAs) that ISAF recognizes. 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. To this end, part 1 of the ISAF programme 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, wihich is estimated to be $400.00 US per person. BzSa will be seeking financial support to meet this expense

Part 2 of the ISAF Youth Worlds Emerging Nations Programme 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 27 December 2015 to 3 January 2016.

Six months ago, such things were BzSA pipedreams.

Setting elation, finances, logistics, and high hopes aside for the moment, there is another big hurdle to face - sailing Lasers 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,, 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 6 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.

The first 5 days, March 28 through April 1, were devoted to vessel familiarization ashore and rigorous drills afloat. Laser sailors need to be fit. Laser sailors need to learn to make complex sail adjustments using 4 different lines, even when underway and particularly at high winds. Failure to trim the sail correctly often leads to capsizing. The days that followed found the 8 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. Chiristopher 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. Note the while 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 programme offered to emerging nations. ISAF defines "Youth" in the context of Laser sailing as being at least 14 but not yet 19.)