FRANKLIN BRAITHWAITE REFLECTS
26 Apr, 2012
By Louay Habib
Based in historic Nelson’s Dockyard, A & F Sails is run by the highly experienced Franklyn Braithwaite, who has over 30 years experience in sail making. Franklyn is a native of Falmouth, Antigua and started sailing at a tender age, but as a child facilities were very basic and children often resorted to building rafts to get out on the water. Today that is very different. In 2010 the Government of Antigua and Barbuda added sailing and swimming to Antigua’s list of National Sports and the National Sailing Academy of Antigua was born. The President is Elizabeth Jordan, Commodore of Antigua Yacht Club and the Senior Instructor is Karl James. Both Franklyn Braithwaite and Karl James have achieved the honour of representing Antigua and Barbuda at the Olympic Games and many of the young Antiguans learning to sail at Antigua’s National Sailing Academy hope to do the same someday.
Franklyn reminisces about sailing when he was a child: “In 1975, I was just getting out of school at Cobbs Cross on top of the hill overlooking Falmouth Harbour. I was 14 years old and just about every kid in the village was into sailing. We used to sail after school and in the holidays near the beach where the Catamaran Marine and Hotel are now. It was called the Falmouth Sailing Club and had been set up by Hugh Bailey and Captain Brown. I look at what the Antigua Yacht Club has done with the current National Sailing Academy and I keep telling the young kids how privileged they are now with proper boats and coaching, that we used to sail in old boats, even build rafts, and we had to sail by trial not through receiving professional instruction. Today the young Antiguans in the Sailing Academy are starting at the top of the game. Sailing is a great sport but it also teaches you discipline and what can be achieved through hard work. Those values help youngsters achieve a better way of life.
“Back in 1975, Antigua Sailing Week had been going for a few years and I used to marvel at the big boats coming into Nelson’s Dockyard and I decided to try to get involved. It was my dream to sail on those yachts. If you had told me that in 2012 there would be a fleet of over 100 magnificent yachts racing I would never have believed you! It would have been unimaginable.”
The Official Welcome Party and Yachting World Round Antigua Race will take place this Saturday, April 28 and will be followed by racing and fantastic shoreside entertainment right through until Saturday 5th May. For full information visit the Official Antigua Sailing Week Website: www.sailingweek.com.
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