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Sailing Club Shake Up

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Belize Sailing Association Denying Chaperones to Kids

As you may have seen in recent the local press (San Pedro Sun newspaper) there is quite a stir going on in regards to two teenage Belizean sailors being denied full and complete adult supervision on a journey to compete in Malaysia this December.

The Belize Sailing Association (BzSA) have not approved a coach for Blanca Velasquez (San Pedro) and Antonio Ricardez (Belize City) in the 2015 International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Youth World Championship Laser Regatta, or a female chaperone for Blanca.

According to ISAF “rules,” club coaches and chaperones are not allowed unless endorsed by BzSA. As a result female chaperone, Eva Campos will not be given appropriate accommodations to be there for Blanca. Coach Juan Mazzini will not be allowed at race briefings or be anywhere near the course to make sure the sailors are safe and given advice and encouragement. As it stands, the coach and chaperone will both be reduced to mere spectators from afar.

Money is not an issue as both of the sailing clubs the 2 sailors belong to will foot the bill – not BzSA. There is no valid reason for the 15-year-old sailors to be held back from having the support of adult supervision behind this journey.

According to Forrest Jones of San Pedro Sailing Club (SPSC), BzSA is claiming that it is too late to register these people. Maybe BzSA’s stalling has made it that way. The clubs have an email that ISAF sent as recently as Monday, Sept. 28 stating that ISAF was still waiting for confirmation. BzSA’s last word is that it cannot and won’t stand in the way of the San Pedro Racers and Belize City Sailing Club sending a coach and chaperone or whoever they want to Malaysia with the sailors, but no adult from Belize has any official status at this event.

My 2 Cents

Having been a chaperone before, it makes no sense why these two great kids would be denied their chaperone and coach to accompany them on such a long journey and help motivate and encourage them through the race. Adult supervision and mentoring are hugely important especially when traveling such a great distance to be in such a big race.

I have to wonder if the people on the BzSA Board who have their own children would place them in such a situation? Apparently not… The BzSA Chairwoman personally chaperoned her own son to Antigua, West Indies, for the regatta there this summer. She also made sure that Juan Mazzini – the best professional coach in Belize was fully authorized by BzSA to be there for her son, officially. Their “double speak” on not standing in the way, but yet not authorizing the coach’s or chaperone’s status is ridiculous.

Peachie’s 2 Cents

A Facebook message from Peachie is what got this whole post happening. She messaged me to ask if I had heard the recent news (I had) and was willing to help take a stand (I was). I decided to do the above write up and in addition asked Peachie to weigh in since she was so passionate about the cause, and is a mother herself.

As a mother of 3 kids (14, 11 & 9) who has recently moved to San Pedro from the U.S., I am heartbroken and astonished by what is happening with the Belize Sailing Association (BzSA).

My 3 kids started sailing with the San Pedro Sailing Club this past summer. My kids are learning how to sail and love it! The dedication of the coaches and club is awe inspiring.

Sailing literally puts the entire world in your backyard. The knowledge and skills can be life-altering. Belize is known for diving and snorkeling. Belize can also be known around the world for sailing. The exposure that Blanca and Antonio will give to the world sailing community is priceless.

It is therefore with astonishment I follow the unfolding saga where BzSA appears to be sabotaging their very own sailors. I assume the BzSA main goal is to promote sailing in Belize. With this in mind, it seems unbelievable that 2 young Belizean sailors who have won full scholarships be denied what they’ve worked for. It seems pretty obvious that something else is going on especially since the BzSA is not required to spend a cent! It seems that from day one, the BzSA has done everything in their power to obstruct these young sailors from attending the Youth World Championship Laser Regatta in Malaysia. Anything ranging from “forgetting” the deadline to register to questioning sailors’ abilities and now denying coaches authorization is a sample of what the BzSA is willfully doing to stop these kids from attending.

Looking at this from an outsider’s perspective, one must question what is behind all of this, especially since there are no expenses to the country of Belize, the BzSA, the SPSC nor to the individuals attending? One has to question why the BzSA is willfully stopping these 2 kids from a once in a lifetime opportunity that is life altering.

Belize Sailing

Blanca Velasquez picture courtesy of Andrew Milner

Sailing Belize

15-year-old Blanca picture courtesy of Forrest Jones

Belize sailing

Antonio Ricardez picture courtesy of Andrew Milner

Sailing Belize

Antonio Ricardez picture courtesy of Forrest Jones

Belize kids

Sailors picture courtesy of Amanda Syme

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2 Comments

  1. tacogirl October 28, 2015

    Not heard an update lately Pat. Hopefully both the qualified young sailors are still destined for Malaysia along with chaperon and coach.

    Reply
  2. Pat Trowbridge October 28, 2015

    Just when I thought the wonderful Blanca Valesquez and the young man who were awarded full scholarships to attend the World ISF event in Malaysia, I see the Belizean Sailing group is still trying to sabotage their participation! I hope this is turned around in time. I met Blanca several e real years ago while on my first trip to San Pedro. I knew she e was destined for a bright future

    Reply

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