SYA organises first women sailing festival |11 October 2021
The Seychelles Yachting Association yesterdaycelebrated the first Women’s Sailing Festival under the theme ‘Steering the course’.
The aim of the festival was to celebrate the achievements of both past and present female sailors and also to encourage more women and girls to join the local sailing community. It was held in collaboration with World Sailing.
The festival held at the Sail Training Scheme at Roche Caïman was launched by the ringing of a bell by the Minister for Youth, Sports and Family, Marie-Céline Zialor.
Present were the president of the Seychelles Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association (Sogca) Antonio Gopal, chairman of the Seychelles Yachting Association Alain Alcindor, past and present female sailors and staff of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Family, and members of the Seychelles Yachting Association among other invitees.
The activities for women and girls included sailing, canoeing and windsurfing, short course racing and other small competitions and games related to sailing.
After the launch of the fun festival, the women and girls present and who were not familiar to sailing a boat, including the minister herself, were given a familiarisation tour on a teaching boat to learn the basic techniques of sailing and handling of a sailing boat. They were under the guidance of Seychelles’ popular sailor and windsurfer Chantal Hoffman andassociationchairmanAlcindor.
Thisfamiliarisation sailing activity was constantly repeated for newcomers whojoinedthe festival during the day until late in the afternoon.
In her address to launch the festival,guest of honour, Minister Zialor,honoured the past female sailors, especially the first women sailors who helped to break the male domination in the sport.
She added that her ministry will get into contact with the Ministry of Education to discuss engagement in fun and friendly grassroots sailing programmes in schools that will encourage students, especially girls, to get interested with activities of the sea and to also join in watersports.
“Our territory is seventy percent sea water. Our watersports athletes do well on the international scene and it is not a coincidence that our best male and female athletes practice watersports. So the potential is there for us toget our first Olympic medal from watersports,” Minister Zialor said.
Minister Zialor stated that her ministry will, through the National Sports Council, offer its full support to the association to develop and motivate its athletes, especially women, for a possible future Olympic medal.
Executive member of the Seychelles Yachting Association, Lucy Athanasiusthanked everyone for the successes of sailing in Seychelles. She made a special mention of Van Goulding, who was called the ‘Mother of the Sail Training Scheme’ for her love and teaching of the sport that opened the hatch to allow anyone who wanted to learn to sail to enter this fun sport.
She also commended the contributions of past women sailors – Barbara Habayeb, Endra Ah-Tiff, Chantal Hoffman, sisters Meggy and Beth Gertrude, Alison Hoareau, Stephanie Lalande and Rebecca Payet among others – for their performances at regional, African and on the world stage that have brought Seychelles much recognition.
“A history cannot go without mention of the women and girls sailors who have made a mark on sailing in Seychelles,” she stated.
Elaine Mondelly, 21 and who had come to take part, said the festival was a good initiative as it has prompted her to think of taking up the sport competitively or as a hobby.
“I’ve never done sailing before. I did a couple of trips and I enjoyed it. It was really fun. I used to do athletics and hockey when I was younger but I’ve stopped. From what I have learned today I am thinking of taking up sailing as a sport,” said Mondelly who resides in Glacis.
Secretary to the association, Betty Alcindor, said the festival was successful and it will be repeated in October 2022. She added that the association will be hosting sailing training every Saturday during the month of November for women and girls only. Those interested have to contact the association to sign up.
The Women’s Sailing Festival started last week with interviews in Seychelles NATIONwith past and presentfemale sailors.
The accompanying photos were taken by Seychelles NATION photographer Louis Toussaint.