The Cayman Islands Sailing Club (CISC) is preparing to embark upon a major new campaign that it hopes will substantially increase participation in the exciting sport of sailing.
From January 2006, the CISC will offer structured training programmes for both children and adults across a range of levels, from beginners who do not yet know a tack from a bowline to more experienced sailors looking to fine-tune their racing skills.
The Learn to Sail and Learn to Race programmes will be offered to young people after school and on weekends.
Adults will also be able to take lessons for all skill levels.
The emphasis will be not only on fun – lots of fun – but also on skill progression and seamanship. Students will achieve certification as they progress through the various skill levels.
The CISC is optimistic that it can help youngsters to develop into possible future Olympic sailors and follow in the footsteps of those Caymanians who have proudly represented the country at the Games in the past.
Moreover, the CISC will look to build a youth racing team that will be able to travel to international events.
Much of the sailing will be with small, one or two-person dinghies known as Picos, Optimists and Lasers. There will also be an opportunity to experience small yacht racing on a 22-foot ‘J22’ class boat.
The training will be open to anyone – both members and non-members of the sailing club.
Children will be encouraged to participate in after-school programmes. The hope also is that a number of local schools will re-establish sailing lessons as part of their Physical Education curriculum, as happened before Hurricane Ivan.
And the hugely successful sailing camps for children will expand to include all the major school holidays in the summer, Easter and Christmas.
In addition to the training programmes for adults and children, there will also be regular racing for people of all ages, giving participants the opportunity to hone their skills and gain valuable race experience. The hope is for weekly races to be held in North Sound, close to where the CISC is located.
Corporate team-building activities will also be offered, enabling employers to reward their hardworking staff with a day’s sailing.
Spearheading the initiative will be the CISC’s newly appointed Director of Sailing, Michael Weber.
His appointment is a significant development for the club, which has been without a full-time sailing tutor since Ivan. Mike will concentrate solely on sailing matters. The club’s many administrative duties are being handled by administrator Heather Bradley, who was recruited in the summer.
Mike, who is aged 27, has been teaching sailing since 1994. He is a certified sailing instructor with the Canadian Yachting Association. Mike is also qualified to train people to become instructors.
In addition to his undoubted sailing abilities, he is also a trained teacher, having gained both a Bachelors of Education and a Masters of Education from the University of Toronto.
He has experience as an elementary and middle school teacher.
He has worked in Cayman as a sailing instructor in 2001-2002, summer 2004 and summer 2005, when his summer camp for more than 200 children proved a spectacular success and convinced the CISC committee that it should create a full-time position for him.
‘I desperately want to promote sailing in Cayman,’ says Mike.