Inside every older sailor is a younger sailor thinking, “What the hell happened?” The next thought is of either resignation or defiance.
In the spirit of defiance (the better option, we think) Master Laser sailors Ari Barshi of the Dominican Republic ((DR) and Canadian Rob Koci, have decided that if they can’t any longer compete for international fame or gold medals, they will relive their misspent youths through the younger, stronger kids who can.
Barshi got a head start on that with his Laser Training Centre in Cabarete, DR, where Olympians have been coming to train for the last eight years. Anna Tunnicliffe, Gold Medal in Radials at Beijing, is a regular and continues to host clinics there. Andrew Campbell, US rep for the Laser at the same Olympics, Bernard Luttmer, Canadian rep in Athens, and Rasmus Myrgren, who sailed for Sweden, are some of the 17 Olympian notables that consider Cabarete one of the best places to hone their skills.
With the help of Koci, Barshi is launching a full time high school for sailors called the Cabarete Sailing Academy. Two years ago, Barshi started hearing from sailors and parents that, whereas there are academies all over the world for sports like baseball, soccer, football and basketball (there is even a fishing academy!} there is none for sailing .“We have everything here,” says Barshi, “the conditions, a US curriculum high school, the Training Centre. This is the perfect place for it.”
There are challenges, for sure. Will Americans and Canadians want to send their kids offshore for school? Barshi uses his experience with his own children to answer. “They both graduated from the high school that will provide the academic side. They now attend excellent schools on the mainland,” he says. “They have friends who also graduated from the ISS (the school is called the International School of Sosua) and have gone on to the University of Miami and other universities across the US.”
And let’s not forget the sailing conditions. A regular trade wind feeds the sea breeze that fills in almost every day around noon and builds to 20-25 knots. The waves are big, but the bay where the Training Center is housed is protected and can offer flatter water as well.
But time will tell if Barshi and Koci are on the right track. Cabarete Sailing Academy is hosting an Open House in Cabarete this March 19 for parents and students interested in this unique opportunity. So far, says Koci, it is hard to find a negative word from anyone. “The Open House will tell us more about how warm the sailing community will be to the idea, however,” he says. “It’s new, it’s different, and it will take time for the parents to get comfortable with what we are trying to do.”
If you are interested in learning more about Cabarete Sailing Academy, you can click here to check it out.