We are proud to share with you that we are supporting a youth sailing initiative in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). By providing container transportation we are helping to get much-need sailing vessels to the SVG Sailing Association.
In the SVG communities, sailing was a necessity two generations ago, yet in recent years the skill is seemingly being lost. Jennifer Trumble, now President of the SVG Sailing Association, was shocked to discover the area had no youth sailing programme.
With determination, hard work and passion, Jennifer Trumble is now reigniting sailing in this nation of seafaring traditions and indigenous boat-building skills. Jennifer herself comes from a family of sailors, including an Olympic gold medallist, and has sailed since she was just five years old! Her move to St Vincent seven years ago gave her the opportunity to realise her dream of running her own sailing school, but her journey didn’t end there.
The sailing school started out with a summer sail camp for twenty kids and some borrowed Optis from Bequia, the neighbouring island. As the school grew they continued to borrow boats here and there, then with the help of local entrepreneur and avid sailor, Kelly Glass, they sourced four O’pen Bics/Skiffs. Jennifer notes:
“They aren’t the best-suited boats to teach children to sail in, but it got them on the water and gave us time to source funds for training boats. When my mum, a passionate sailor, passed away, we used her inheritance to buy several Optimist boats and started a small training programme.”
The initiative has now taught around 300 children, despite COVID-19 and a volcanic eruption in the area over the past five years! The programme has expanded and allowed Jennifer and her team to run sail camps all over the Grenadines. But the expansion means more boats are desperately needed. Jennifer continues:
“We take the boats either lashed to the front of old charter yachts or on the ferries. In some of the villages they may not have had exactly the right clothes, shoes or equipment, but the smiles on their faces once they can control their own boats is joyful. In these communities, sailing was a necessity two generations ago and it is wonderful to see the seniors come out to support us, tell stories and show off their sailing skills to the kids. We often leave with the seniors and village youth coming together to help move sailing forward.”
“Every time we run an event, we get so much interest, so we know there is huge untapped potential amongst the kids and adults. The joy and the fun and the experiences that they all get is incredible to see, and some of the poorest kids are earning money by helping at the club and washing the boats, so they are very keen to continue.”
Youth sailing in SVG has gone from strength to strength, having attracted local and global sponsors too…
World Sailing Training Delivery Manager Rob Holden became involved with the school mid-pandemic. As well as his great knowledge and insight – guiding the school towards prioritising and investing in training coaches, Rob’s involvement has helped the programmes generate publicity. World Sailing’s involvement caught the attention of the government. Having government support has now brought in more sailors, so now the school has a race coach and a sports psychologist.
UK ILCA sailor Guy Noble, a regular visitor to the Caribbean met Jennifer Trumble in her role as SVG Sailing Association President in a chance meeting and was quick to offer his support. Guy explained:
"Some of us are lucky enough to visit Caribbean hotels with sailing boats we can use, but we rarely see the locals sailing. I thought about all the neglected boats in my home club, Queen Mary Sailing Club near London, which could be given a second life. So I approached Tony Bishop, Manager of QMSC and he immediately said he could help."
Before long, the UK sailing network picked this up and offers of equipment came from QMSC members from all over the UK, like Nick Harrison from Stokes Bay, Richard Butler from Covenham SC, and Kean Gunton from South Cerney SC, all getting in touch. Suppliers like Rooster, SailingFast and Ovington Boats all donated equipment.
As specialists in shipping from the UK to the Caribbean, we at Kestrel Shipping were well-positioned to help get the supplies from the UK to SVG. With offices in various Caribbean countries, St Vincent and the Grenadines included, we pride ourselves on supporting growth initiatives in the local community. And so we were all too happy to provide a container for transporting six boats, safety equipment and spares which are now on their way to St Vincent.
Getting involved with projects such as the SVG Sailing Association’s youth sailing school is of huge importance to us here at Kestrel. Becoming a part of the efforts to sustainably develop sailing in these countries is all part of our Corporate Social Responsibility. We take CSR very seriously, and feel it is paramount that we become involved with the communities where we do business. Our St Vincent and the Grenadines office allows us to have our finger on the pulse of this emerging nation which is how we came to learn of the initiative.
The St Vincent and the Grenadines Sailing Association together with the sailing community of the United Kingdom are working together to elevate Jennifer Trumble’s successes. The sailing school is gaining global press and its future is looking bright. Jennifer comments:
“Our long-term goal is to get a small number of training boats in all the communities that complete a sail camp, we have the contacts and interest but are still continuing the fundraising. We recently secured some funding from a financial services company in Ireland, Kinsale Capital Management, and heavy discounts from a Freight company, Kestrel Worldwide Shipping, that services the islands from the UK and US. We hope this will allow us to bring in a couple of proper double-handers, that will allow us to train adults and generate more revenue. We are also considering building relationships with clubs in North America and Europe to exchange coaches and help us upgrade our ageing fleet.”
At Kestrel we hope to continue to play a part in the association’s growth and success going forward. More vessels and equipment are needed to allow this initiative to reach its potential and truly excel. If you are in a position to help, do get in touch with the team at the SVG Sailing Association.