Success story: Sailors like Makai Joell will be helped by Digicel’s sponsorship. *Bermuda Sun file photo
Success story: Sailors like Makai Joell will be helped by Digicel’s sponsorship. *Bermuda Sun file photo

TUESDAY, DEC. 18: Digicel Bermuda has partnered with the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Sailing Academy. 

The Sailing Academy is focused on providing young Bermudians with the opportunity to develop essential skills in the sport of sailing and has seen huge growth within its first year such that the 2010 Nationals saw three Royal Bermuda Yacht Club participants, while this year’s Nationals saw approximately fifty.

In November 2011, Digicel approached the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club to form the Digicel Squad, which enabled five local juniors the ability to explore their sailing potential. 

Wayne Caines, CEO of Digicel Bermuda, said in a  press release: “Sailing is a high equipment cost sport yet instills ownership and responsibility amongst participants.

“We are pleased to hold such a vital role in an initiative that aims to not only deliver a superior sailing product in Bermuda, but also encourages key attributes for success in life. 

“Digicel Bermuda has committed to support a three year programme with The Sailing Academy and looks forward to sharing the successes of Bermuda’s upcoming sailors.”

Shane McDonnell, Digicel sales director, added: “Though still in its first year, the progress and success of this programme is encouraging.

“We are delighted to take this project one step further and shape a sustainable programme for young Bermudians interested in benefiting from this rewarding sport.”

Thomas Herbert-Evans, RBYC director of sailing: “Our sole focus last year was to provide worthwhile opportunities to young Bermudians and have them take to the water and give it a go.

“However, this initiative has not only exceeded our expectations, but has helped introduce and advance new sailors such as Makai Joell, who came in “green” and has already moved up from junior to youth and is now sailing in the laser class. Digicel’s support will undoubtedly set a clear Olympic pathway for local athletes.”

“The speed at which the Bermuda Optimist Fleet is growing and improving is unprecedented,” adds Ben Nicholls, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’s Junior Sailing Committee Chair. 

“Digicel is providing unique and much needed support for these youngsters who need to compete in major overseas regattas if they are to go on to represent Bermuda on the world stage for years to come.

“ The hard work starts now and through developing the younger sailors, the success will progress on to the top as the kids mature. Digicel Squad Members Tre and Taj Maxwell, Micah Thomas-Rayor, Nasojay and Nasojah Hall are shining examples of how the opportunity given by Digicel can help progress a sailor’s development and move them towards following in Makai Joell’s footsteps.”

 The Digicel Squad is travelling to Miami after Christmas to compete in the Orange Bowl Regatta.

“It will be a huge learning curve for these youngsters, as they are used to racing 20 boats not 300,” states Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Coach, Paul Doughty.

“These kids are progressing really well and will come back from the Orange Bowl with significant experience gained. I turned 60 years old last month and this is one of the most inspirational projects I have seen in sailing or any other sport, for that matter.

“This is great news for Bermuda sailing and let’s hope going forward we can ensure a long term programme whereby every individual on this island at least gets the opportunity to participate and then reach their full potential.”