British high commission building and donating an e-class sloop in support of sailing

AS the 2024 year begins, the government has already announced plans for co-curricular sailing in schools, for a new National Sailing Academy, and for new oversight bodies for sloop sailing. As a fellow island nation, the UK has been pleased to support sailing in The Bahamas since it was announced to be the new national sport, and, this week the British High Commission has announced it is building and donating an E-class sloop. This will be first used by the Bahamas National Sailing School, and eventually donated to the National Sailing Academy to provide facilities for young sailors and help develop the national sport.

The British High Commissioner Tom Hartley said: “Sailing is a fantastic sport and there is no better place in the world to learn than The Bahamas. The Bahamas has a great pedigree in international sailing and also great heritage in traditional sloop sailing, just like the UK which also has both. The E-class is a great boat for learning to sail, and we hope it will give all young sailors a chance to sample the speed and skill of sloop sailing. 2024 is going to be great year for sailing!”

The E-class sloop is being built by legendary boat builder Mark Knowles, from Long Island. Mr Knowles uses traditional boat-building methods and utilises cork trees from his home island for the sloop’s rips, and Bahamian pine for the keel, and he believes he makes the fastest boats in the country! The sloop is being built at the Nassau Yacht Club, East Bay Street, and visitors can come and see it under construction Monday-Friday. It will be finished in time for the National Family Island Regatta, in Exuma. The boat’s name and crew are yet to be announced.

In his video for the 50th anniversary of Independence in July 2023, HM The King, King Charles, also celebrated Bahamian sailors, saying: “I hope to be able to celebrate with you as soon as possible, and to meet some of the many Bahamians who are already shaping the next fifty years, such as young sailors like Craig Ferguson aspiring to the Olympic legacy of Durward Knowles... ”

In 2023, the British High Commission provided scholarships for dozens of young sailors from government schools to learn to sail at the Bahamas National Sailing School’s summer programme, and senior executives from British Sailing visited the National Family Island Regatta and offered support and offers of ‘twinning’ to any Bahamian sailing clubs who wanted to partner and train with British sailing clubs.

Looking ahead to 2024, the British High Commission is also exploring scholarships for young Bahamian sailors to study in British boarding schools specialising in sailing. The UK has the most successful Olympic sailing team of any country and other Carib- bean nations have long sent their best young sailors to study and train in the UK alongside other outstanding sailors. It is hoped that new scholarships provided by the British High Commission will allow young Bahamians to study in the UK and perfect their sport before applying to College without having to worry about funding. More news will be announced later in 2024.


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