In the late afternoon of Saturday, May 5, two Optimists in line astern formation close hauled through the gap between the Placencia peninsula and the Placencia island. It had taken about 15 minutes of beating to wind from the Southwinds Resort to reach this point.

In the lead boat was a BzSA instructor, and following was Trent Hardwick of the Sea Scouts. Once around the point, the boats "beared away" slightly, picking up speed on a reach, for a historic first "sail past" of Placencia by a formation of International Optimist Dinghies.

The little boats swished merrily over waves spawned by a freshening easterly, and paralleled the beach front which was shaded by coconut trees and back dropped by the Cockscomb Range rising majestically toward blue skies and popcorn clouds. Soon, many people came out to wave, as the boats neared the shore then reversed course to return to the Southwinds Resort.

The following day, the official launch of the Placencia Sailing Club occurred on the beach at Southwinds Resort. Alvin and Maria Cabral are the main organizers, and a pro-tem committee was formed from among those present. The Placencia Sailing Club has Club Membership in the Belize Sailing Association, and is part of the widening sport sailing community in Belize.

The Belize Sailing Association is now a full member of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), the world governing body for sailing, and is the recognized national authority. There are sailing clubs in Belize City, Belmopan, Corozal, Caye Caulker, Honey Camp Lagoon and San Pedro, Ambergris. The Optimist program, launched a year ago with 26 race-certified boats, now has over one hundred boys and girls, ages up to 15 years, learning to sail.

The BzSA supports seven regattas (boat races) annually, and has instituted a national ranking system to facilitate Belizeans' entry to worldwide events. The first will be the North American Optimist Championship in Mexico in October.

The BzSA has lodged with the ISASF its long term plan for support under the IOC solidarity program to enter the Olympics in the year 2016 with the Laser Standard and Radial, 2020 with crewed sailboats, and 2024 with multihulls.

All clubs are actively in search of sponsorship. An Optimist landed in Belize is Bz $3,500, and it costs about Bz$200 annually for a young person to learn to sail. A Laser program will be launched soon.

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Contact: Alvin and Maria Cabral 620-7320 or email: [email protected]