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Dinghy Sailing; The Grassroots of Sailing


The passing of Hurricane Irma caused well-documented catastrophic damage in the BVI.  The marine industry was badly hit, with hundreds of yachts badly damaged; the Royal British Virgin Islands Yacht Club (RBVIYC) youth sailing dinghy fleet, and members´ racing yachts were no exception.

However, recreational sailing is seeing a resurgence as residents dig themselves out of the mire through their recovery and rebuild efforts.  It´s easy to forget that electricity wasn´t connected to some people´s homes under February 2018, five months after Irma struck – going sailing was low on people´s priority lists.

But now, people are focusing again on the things that make the BVI a great place to live. The grassroots of sailing – dinghy sailing – is the driving force to getting people back on the water.  There is Laser sailing for the adults, Optimists for the kids, RS Fevas for the teens and adult/child combos.

All the sailing is currently based out of Nanny Cay which hosts the dinghy fleet.  After-school sailing programs run Monday to Thursday, there are classes and Family Fun Day sailing on Saturdays, and a group of mainly middle-aged men tend to organize their own racing sessions in Lasers; these started as post-work sailing sessions in the Summer but have transitioned to weekends as the winter nights of the Caribbean close in.

The RBVIYC Youth Sailing Programme has evolved too.  Many of the older racing sailors left the BVI after Irma, and there is a new crop of learner sailors on the water taking lessons Monday to Thursday after school.

The RBVIYC assets, including the dinghy fleet, were in a pretty poor shape post-Irma, but months of hard work and fundraising have paid off.

The Kids And The Sea (KATS) container full of parts and boats was upended during Irma.  The RBVIYC, which ran the sailing element of the KATS program, purchased the container and its contents.  This has given the Club 12 fully functional Lasers, spares, and additional rigs like radials and 4.7s for lighter and smaller adults, and teen sailors.

A concerted fundraising effort was undertaken to rebuild the fleet.  The Manhattan Yacht Club and the West End Yacht Club contributed.  The RBVIYC team was ever-present in the regatta village during this year´s BVI Spring Regatta, and individuals donations were made (some large).

The RBVIYC was able to purchase 6 Winner Optimists and four RS Fevas.

The RS Feva is the world’s leading double-handed dinghy for youngsters and parent/child teams. It´s a fast-growing class and chosen by families, clubs and National Authorities to build “the pathway to a lifetime in sailing”.  It provides a stepping stone to performance sailing and larger boats.

For the foreseeable future, yacht club races will be dinghy focused as the keelboat fleet quietly returns.

Words & photos by Alastair Abrehart



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