The Malta Sail Training Association sets sail!

Thursday, April 19, 2012, 12:48

by Wilfred Sultana

15 youngsters, boys and girls, mainly from the Cottonera area will become the first group of participants to experience a new exciting initiative meant “to provide life skills, personal development, teamwork, empowerment and the promotion of individual responsibility for Maltese and under privileged individuals through the medium of sail training.”

This project will be known as the Malta Sail Training Association and is the brainchild of Mr. Ben Stuart, General Manager of Grand Harbour Marina, who has been working on the idea for the past four years.  Stuart’s novel approach found a strong base of cooperation and enthusiasm from a group of collaborators.  In August 2010 the inaugural meeting was held and eventually a committee was formed; this is made up of Chris Grech as Chairman, Robert Aquilina and Dr. Ann Fenech as members and Ben Stuart as general secretary.

“The idea replicates other organizations abroad but is tailored towardsMalta.  The local interest in the idea was most encouraging. This came from various quarters, the like of the Conservatorio Vincenzo Bugeja, De La Salle College, the Youth Employment Programme (YEP) at the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC).  However most overwhelming was the response of the Local Councils of the Three Cities.  They even sent a flyer to all houses in the area to explain the concept of the whole idea”, explained Ben Stuart.

The first trip of the MSTA is scheduled for the 21st and 22nd April and, by courtesy of its owners, the Tall Ship Brigantine Florette built in 1921 will host the new initiative which is bound to give the young participants a taste of the “Historic way of Sailing.”  The trip was over ‘subscribed’: the MSTA had a total of 32 respondents.

Ours is a gesture of support to a noble initiative”, remarked Capt. Ronald Haynes of Historical Tallship Sailing Ltd, owners of Brigantine Florette normally berthed at Ta’ Xbiex.

The young ‘sailors’, whose average age is 17, will be living their first ever sailing experience, the excited feeling of learning about ‘pulling’ the right ropes, hoisting the correct sails, deck scrub and below deck cleaning, lookout and rudder watch rotation, understanding the weather predictions and maneuvering a sailing boat as part of a crew. Team work is an aspect so instrumental in the formation of a strong but decent and commanding character.

With their initiative the MSTA aims to provide life skills and increased confidence and opportunities, which are currently unavailable to many young Maltese, ensuring them of a career path in the sailing industry, or a springboard to a career of their choice and assisting them to become responsible, active members of organized society

Furthermore the Association is keen to develop and promoteMaltaas a centre for skills and craftsmanship to service the yachting industry.

The trip will start and end at Grand Harbour Marina.


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