Girls get glimpse of what future could hold
The Bermuda Optimist Dinghy Association hosted a Women On the Water Girls Sailing Clinic over the weekend at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club.
A group of 39 girls aged 6 to 13 participated in an all-day clinic that included land and on-the-water training.
The land drills included a yoga warm-up and some circuit training. On the water, the girls were split into skill-level groups to practice sailing and racing drills. An all-female team of coaches and sailing experts was on hand to guide and inspire the girls.
The international Optimist governing body recently instituted gender quotas for their international races, to encourage a better balance of boys and girls among participating countries.
Most of Bermuda's younger sailing classes are evenly split between boys and girls. But by middle school, which is considered the prime racing age, girls tend to drop out, leaving mostly boys as eligible to represent Bermuda in international races.
The WOW Clinic seeks to encourage the girls to stay with sport of sailing through their preteen and teenage years.
The all-female volunteers, and coach Maria Acerenza, shared their experiences.
Acerenza described her start in the sport where she was the only female when she started sailing back in Uruguay.
Just 11 years old, Acerenza said she found the aggressiveness of the boys at the start line to be intimidating, but she stuck with the sport.
Emily Nagel, who is a member of Bermuda's team for the Red Bull Youth America's Cup, encouraged the girls to stick with a sport she said took her all over the world and led her to making “lifelong friends”.
“Spending the day with the girls was a really rewarding experience,” Nagel said.
“It was great to see so many young and talented girls out on the water, many of whom I have taught at some point out of the local clubs and the AC Endeavour Programme. To see how far they have come is fantastic and it is always good to see that they have stuck with the sport.”
In conjunction with the event, BODA awarded a $1,500 scholarship to the Endeavour Programme, which will be used to support a girl “who has the skill and determination to train with the advanced club racers, with the ultimate goal of representing Bermuda at international regattas”.