Sailing in Bahrain
Hang out with the island's next generation of sailing enthusiasts Discuss this article
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Pretty much any Saturday morning or afternoon, apart from through the hottest months, if you head down to Bahrain Yacht Club, you’ll find a group of eager young sailors, from complete beginners to salty young sea dogs, strapping on their life jackets and heading out onto the open water.
The club runs ongoing six-week courses to teach youngsters the basics of sailing and water safety and the uptake is strong both from kids of boat-owning families and those who simply want to try the sport for themselves such as 13-year-old Amy Lewis who’s been learning for two months.
She says: “I’m going to boarding school in September which is close to Rutland Water, UK, so I wanted to learn to sail here then I can sail when I get to school.”
The six-week initial course begins with a swimming test. Though most can, sailors don’t have to be able to swim unaided but they must be able to paddle out into the water confidently while wearing a life jacket.
Then it’s onto how to put the boat together or rigging, as it’s known in sailor speak, that’s putting the sails up and connecting the ropes and pullies for us landlubbers.
And without more ado the student sailors take to the water for a capsize drill. Sounds horrible but it’s really not so bad and is designed to give new sailors confidence that they can cope if their craft turns over.
Water sports activities manager Ben Tye explains: “We’re very hot on water safety and the capsize drill just shows people what to do if the boat goes over, there’s a strong chance that’s going to happen at some point and the students need to know that it’s no big deal and really easy to get back on board.”
Once everyone’s happy with the capsize then the class takes to the water and within your first lesson you’re having your first go at sailing, first with an instructor then solo.
Amy says: “It’s just an amazing feeling, there’s a great sense of freedom out on the water, I can just go out there and forget about everything else.”
Her views are echoed by Loewi Schils, 11, (pictured) who’s a veteran of four years on the water. He says: “I just love everything about sailing, the best bit is steering when there’s a good wind. I try to get out whenever there’s a group going out and I think it will always be a hobby.”
The six lessons make up a total of 12 hours on the water when students learn how to sail across the wind, the fastest way to go and also the easiest; tacking and gybing, the two types of turns; setting sail relative to the wind direction and, most importantly, how to sail slowly for when you’re among harbour traffic or coming into berth.
At the end of the course students receive the Royal Yachting Association Youth Stage 1 certificate, which means they’re able to sail competently with supervision and from there they can take further courses as they increase in confidence and ability.
Ben explained: “We can take students through a range of courses but there is no rush, it’s as much about having fun and making friends as learning. They build their skills as they go along and then we can put these to use towards the different certificates but we’re not rigid, we mainly want the kids to enjoy it.”
The current course runs throughout June and there is a four-day water sports summer camp for seven to 15-year-olds running from July 9 at which participants spend four full days at the club sailing, wind-surfing, swimming, playing beach games and generally having a jolly good time.
A course of six lessons costs BD30 for members and BD48 for non-members for eight to 16-year-olds, but this is likely to change with the new season in September, and the summer camp will be BD50 for members and BD80 for guests inclusive of huge amounts of food and drinks.
Call (17 700 677)
Time Out Bahrain,
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