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   Sailability BVI
Sailability BVI

For a Royal Yachting Association Training Centre whose mission statement advocates ‘For Fun, For Life, and for All the people of the BVI’ it was a natural step to invite BVIslanders previously unaware of the delights of their marine environment to come sailing!

Over the past five years children and adults restricted on land by disabilities and special needs, have grown into a group who can boast more time afloat than most lawyers, bankers, teachers or government ministers!

‘Sailability BVI’ is the only overseas recognised Royal Yachting Association Sailability site.  It comes under the protective umbrella of the BVI Watersports Centre with its impressive HQ at Manuel Reef in Sea Cows Bay, Tortola.

The Principal and Sailability students alike really don’t think of it as a ‘big deal’ the approach to each lesson is exactly the same as all the other groups that learn to sail, swim, kayak or handle powerboats at the Centre.  A safe, structured, hands-on session that’s fun, usually works!

Challenges either intellectual, physical or both do not prevent anyone from taking part. Using the same boats, equipment and teaching methods that able bodied students are exposed to, the achievements and rewards are just as frequent and important.

As RYA Sailability has in the UK, Sailability BVI has created a general awareness within the local community demonstrating that these individuals are significant members of society.  Sailability does not completely segregate special needs groups but rather integrates students into able bodied courses where possible, making a previously unusual sight, perfectly usual to both primary and secondary students that attend the BVIWSC.  Local regattas now are also regularly entered by special needs sailors.

At the beginning of 2008 two 16 year old BVIslanders were selected as candidates for a pilot Sailability Apprenticeship Scheme.  Approved by BVI Government departments, these boys with physical and intellectual disabilities attend their schools just 3 days a week now and spend another 3 divided between the BVI Watersports Centre and Horizon Yacht Charters.   Developing personal sailing and powerboat techniques together with learning how to help beginners at the BVIWSC, has been complemented by a work experience programme at the major charter company in Nanny Cay.  Here the apprentices have worked alongside experienced riggers and maintenance staff, learning the commercial side of the yachting industry.  The aim of the pilot scheme is to ensure that the boys will be valuable employees of any marine based firm and that others will be allowed to follow on in their wake.  This has already come to fruition for the first apprentice who graduated from BVI Technical and Vocational Institute in June 2009. He has secured a full time job with Horizon Yacht Charters.

The BVI Watersports Centre is a year round, Royal Yachting Association Training Centre, offering junior and adult courses to the residents of the Territory.  Although based on Tortola its team and fleet provide programmes on Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda - making sure that no one is left out.

‘For Fun, For Life and For All the People of the BVI’

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