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Young sailors aboard Jarhead win prize at Rolex Middle Sea Race

Students from the Jarhead Young Sailors Foundation Malta have boosted their sailing experience through participating in the 2020 Rolex Middlesea Race.

Founded in October 2017 by Gregory Nasmyth and his wife Samantha Rowe-Beddoe, the Jarhead Young Sailors Foundation was established to encourage young people in Malta to take up sailing.  

The foundation is a not-for-profit voluntary charity that offers two programmes on-board the two J109 yachts ‘JYS Jan’ and ‘JYS Jarhead’.

The schools programme offers introductory sailing sessions to Maltese students, encouraging them to sail and teaching them skills such as rope work, navigation and yacht maintenance.

The second programme, meanwhile, enables Maltese teenagers to develop their existing dinghy sailing experience and steps them up to world-class offshore racing, with the young sailors joining both the Rolex Middlesea Race and the Rolex Fastnet Race, as well as competing in other local races.

“We are proud and honoured that seven Maltese teenagers from the JYS programme once again participated in the Rolex Middlesea Race this year,” said Jarhead Young Sailors Foundation administrator Wilfrid Buttigieg.

 “The Rolex Middlesea Race is a legendary and epic race, in which sailors take on the force and beauty of nature, while dealing with the extremes of frustration and exhilaration brought on by the ever-changing elements.

“This year the race experienced light winds for much of the course, but the team continued to push themselves and the yacht ‘Jarhead’ to arrive safely back to Malta – and win the first RMSR prize in the history of the Foundation,” Buttigieg added. 

The Foundation’s team of promising young sailors – Emilie Gregory, Shaun Miggiani, Nicky Debono Drury, Saul Vassallo, Patrice Pace, Luke Rausi, and Daniel Bajada – won the tace’s first prize in ORC Class 6, while they also placed sixth in IRC Class 6 and thirteenth in IRC overall.

The mixed team was selected from young people taking part in the JYS programme, who undertook a vigorous training schedule with the Foundation’s own professional racer before being joined by experienced skipper Lloyd Hamilton in the race.

Through enabling this unparalleled sailing experience, the Foundation has become an important stepping-stone for many young Maltese sailors who have gone on to join larger teams on more competitive yachts.

In fact, this year’s edition of the race saw past Jarhead Young Sailors racing on other Maltese boats, including Karl Miggiani and Zach Zammit on Artie III, Daniel Fenech and Craig Farrugia Vella on Commanche, and Gregory Mifsud on TonTon. 

“Beyond educating children and youths in the sport of sailing, JYS was founded on the belief that sailing experience supports the development of life skills such as teamwork, discipline, communication, a sense of adventure, maritime related skills and much more,” Buttigieg said.

 “We also reach out to local secondary students, particularly through the Alternative Learning Program (ALP) as well a number of students from ‘Agenzija Zghazagh’ who form part of the more intermediate seniors’ team. Thanks to the Foundation, students have been given the unique opportunity to experience two professional full-size racing sailing boats, which for many will likely be a first in their lifetime and at zero cost for students or schools.”

As the Foundation prepares for the next step of reaching out to a wider community, it is open to collaboration and partnering with key organisations that share similar objectives of boosting the sailing experience – and accompanying life skills – of young people across the Maltese islands.

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