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Endeavour graduates getting regatta ready

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Some of the first graduates of the America's Cup Endeavour programme have said while they never had an interest in sailing before, they now want the sport to remain a part of their lives forever.

This week The Royal Gazette met Ocean Archebal, Isaiah Hayward and Atwa Butterfield — all 12 years of age — who are among those who have successfully completed the course and have been chosen to compete in their first race regatta next month against international youth teams.

They have been lucky enough to get some tips from some of the world's best competitive sailors, including Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill and tactician for SoftBank Team Japan Chris Draper.

Around 1,000 students have taken part in Endeavour since it began a year ago, with students learning about sailing through a cross-curricular STEAM [science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) educational programme.

The aim of the programme is to reach Bermuda residents from all backgrounds and give them an appreciation of the marine environment, while teaching them other skills such as team-building and problem-solving along the way.

Around 70 of the programme's top graduates who met in Dockyard this week, including the three middle-school students, have been selected to continue the summer programme into the autumn and will be encouraged to participate in some of Bermuda's existing local sailing-club events. They will also all be competing in the regatta in November.

Isaiah, a student from Warwick Academy, told The Royal Gazette: “I decided to join the Endeavour programme because it looked really fun. I like the people that come here and I like being out on the water — when it's hot or cold.

“We are going to be sailing in the Opti Nationals, a race that is coming up, so we are learning the different techniques that we need to know for that.

“I am learning to think on a different scale — I need to think about where the wind is coming from and which way I need to turn to get to the point faster than everybody else.

“I never did sailing or thought that I would get into sailing. I want to become a vet and sailing might help me if I need to go out in the water to check on different animals.”

Asked what he would say to encourage other children to take part in the programme, Isaiah added: “You can learn a lot about your character when you are out there on the water and it is really fun and a good experience.”

Bermuda Institute student Ocean said the best part of the programme for her was being out on the water. She said: “I didn't sail before or think that I ever would.

“Sailing is fun and it's exciting when you have the wind blowing in your face. I met my best friend here — her name is Amena.

“I want to be a doctor, but I also want to sail and teach people how to sail. I want to sail for Team Japan. I met Chris Draper — he is my favourite. I like their [SoftBank Team Japan] sailing and Chris Draper is a tactician, and I think that is cool.”

Atwa Butterfield of TN Tatem said his father was into sailing and that he was pleased to hear his son was taking an interest. He said: “I never sailed before, so once my dad found out, he was really happy. I like when we get to sail and go out to the water and just have fun. Katrina is a good teacher — she is funny at times, but she knows when to take it seriously. I met a lot of new people. I got more and more interested. The first time I tried, I thought I would be really bad, but I got the hang of it and learnt new things.”

The Endeavour programme has two tiers — an after-school programme for P5 and P6 public school students and the middle-school programme for M1s or year 7s from all of the public and private schools. They are both run out of the east and west ends of the island.

Ms Katrina Williams told The Royal Gazette that as well as learning about sailing, the students were developing a racing knowledge on and off the water, as well as valuable life lessons, including teamwork. They demonstrated this during our interview when they were tasked with rigging a Hobie cat. A group of ten students were able to do it in less than five minutes, working together and solving problems along the way.

Ms William added: “One of the biggest things they learn is working as a team and being able to problem solve by themselves.

“A lot of the children haven't been put in a place where it is them versus Mother Nature, and they really have to have a sense of independence and pride in what they are doing, and work hard to be able to be successful at sailing.

“We have a ton of children who are really impassioned about the sport and it is amazing to see that passion, from not having sailed in May, to doing their first regatta in November.

“Their parents talk about the sense of independence, their teamwork and camaraderie when they come.

“It is interesting to hear the teachers talk about it as well because they do see the difference — we have behavioural specialists that come in saying they had no idea that the children coming in with potential behavioural issues were so keen on doing things and learning and developing knowledge outside of the classroom.”

Speaking about the opportunity her students have had to meet world-class sailors who will compete in the 35th America's Cup next year, Ms Williams said: “We do a base tour every Friday with the middle-school programme.

“We were there with the students from TN Tatem and Jimmy Spithill was on the base. The children were like ‘wow, that's Jimmy Spithill!' and he came over and signed their hats and shirts. It is really cool to see them interacting and being able to ask those guys what they did when they were growing up.

“Team Japan coach Scott Babbage was here rigging his moth while our children were sailing and they asked him advice about regattas. He said ‘don't worry about the results just have fun with it and you will develop your skills as you go' so to have one of the top coaches in the world being able to say that to our students is amazing.”

•For more information on the America's Cup Endeavour Programme visit: https://www.americascup.com/en/endeavour.html

Salty sea dogs: From left, Atwah Butterfield, Ocean Archebal and Isaiah Hayward are all top graduates of the America's Cup Endeavour Programme (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)

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Published October 28, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated October 31, 2016 at 1:00 pm)

Endeavour graduates getting regatta ready

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