MPs should get their facts straight about RBYC
June 11, 2013
The RBYC has a long-standing tradition as a private members club, and rightly or wrongly we have not trumpeted to the greater community the many lives of Bermudians our operations positively touch on a daily basis. I feel the need to comment now because recent flippant remarks made by MPs have maligned Bermudian sailing clubs, specifically the RBYC’s commitment to the community. I believe that these MPs are ignorant of the facts and wish to set them straight. These recent remarks do nothing to improve the false perception that the sport of sailing is only achievable to one sector of society and that investment in sailing clubs does not benefit the community as a whole.
For instance, the RBYC in association with the Cruising Club of America, biannually organises and hosts the Newport to Bermuda race, recently estimated to bring almost $12 million to the local economy. In addition we annually host week-long events bringing visiting sailors to our shores to participate in Bermuda International Invitational Race Week and the Argo Group Gold Cup. Many of these sailors become life-long lovers of the Island and return visitors. These events provide tremendous benefits to a broad spectrum of the Island, and figures such as these cannot be claimed by any other sporting event on island.
At the RBYC we are proud of our commitment to youth in Bermuda. We know that sailing empowers a child with decision-making and problem-solving skills, while teaching them respect for nature and the marine environment. Sailing is a life time sport, even if the child doesn’t end up participating in racing. The sport demands a high level of discipline, concentration and commitment. These attributes can lead a child down a more positive path in life, possibly keeping them from choices that might limit their future.
With the commitment of the RBYC membership, the RBYC Sailing Academy was recently formed and we currently teach, as a Certified Royal Yachting Association Training Centre, the RYA curriculum with two full-time and two part-time staff on hand. The focus since the inception of the RBYC Sailing Academy has been to expand our sport into the local schools and our sailing director has had some success with this.
Schools that have sailed at RBYC this past month include Clearwater, Dellwood, Whitney, Prospect, Victor Scott, West Pembroke, a Home School, Warwick Academy and BHS. This week alone we will have had just over 170 youth sailing out of the RBYC.
The RBYC Sailing Academy has recently defined a pathway for sailors that can lead them towards successful career prospects within the sport.
In addition to the RBYC Sailing Academy the RBYC has been, and continues to be a major champion of the Waterwise programme. Consistently met with funding challenges, this programme was originally designed to bring the sport of sailing into the lives of children at the middle school level. This week, the RBYC is hosting a Waterwise school session for Dellwood Middle School.
Graduates of previous Waterwise programmes are now participating in other after-school programmes, actively sailing every week with funding support from the RBYC and other generous local businesses. Two Waterwise graduates have just qualified to represent Bermuda at the Optimist North American Championships, an event being hosted by the RBYC in July. This is an international event being organised by the Bermuda Optimist Dinghy Association and will bring over 182 youths, with parents and coaches, to the Island. Lastly it is worth mentioning that the club has supported one Waterwise individual who is now using his sailing skills to apply to overseas schooling scholarships.
I am hopeful that the next time MP’s comment in the public about sailing clubs, and the RBYC in particular, they will refrain from spouting divisive personal perceptions. Between now and then I hope they take the time to talk to the sailors with actual boots on the dock, the parents of the children, the leaders of supportive business, and the club members and volunteers who believe that sailing is a positive outlet for youth and a sound foundation for a positive path in life. Historical viewpoints of sailing are just that, historical, and the RBYC is only focused on the future.
In fairness, sailing clubs in Bermuda should be given the same consideration as other sports clubs when it concerns Government funding. We would be grateful for this and any other assistance.
SOMERS W KEMPE
RBYC Vice Commodore