New “Little Optimist” Boat Donated to Help Children Learn to Sail

The Little Optimist Sailing Academy recently hosted Prestwich Street Primary School pupils who got to learn to sail in a newly donated boat.

Cape Town, South Africa (02 August 2023) – Prestwich Street Primary School pupils got to try their hands at sailing recently, thanks to the Little Optimist Sailing Academy in the Waterfront’s Battery Park. The fun day out helps children overcome their fear of the ocean and improve their quality of life through sailing.

The Little Optimist Sailing Academy aims to help children who have either health or socio-economic challenges, to overcome physical and mental health hardships, enhancing well-being and quality of life through exposure to the sport of sailing.

Through the programme, the children between the ages of 8 and 15 will learn about the importance of protecting the ocean, as well as teamwork, said The Little Optimist Sailing Academy & Trust founder Greg Bertish.

“The sport of sailing is perceived as elitist; and for many of these children, it’s the first time that 80% have been out on a boat, let alone a sailboat. Most are fearful of the ocean when they arrive. They leave inspired, full of hope, with a love for the ocean and as little sailors.

“We teach them the basics of sailing on the canals and they get to sail their own Optimist dinghies on the first day that they have ever been in the water. They learn about ocean health, ocean safety, sailboats and hopefully, they find a passion which makes them inquisitive about the world. We want to open doors for them to find work in the sailing and marine industry one day.”

Corporate sponsors help make this possible by sponsoring boats at the academy. Recently, the V&A Waterfront sponsored a new boat for the academy.

“We are proud to have partnered with the Little Optimist Sailing Academy, giving the children a safe space tackle exciting and new challenges that are also fun experiences, right in the heart of the city. The Academy instils hope and helps the children deal with their emotions as they tackle the ebb and flow of the waves. The sponsorship expands the program to more communities to experience sailing on the waterfront canals safely.” – Donald Kau, V&A Waterfront Head of Communications and Spokesperson

The Little Optimist Sailing Academy has supported 463 children via the “Sailing Thru Life Programme”, since opening in April 2022. Studies have shown that similar types of activity have resulted in the improvement in motor skills and coordination, self-confidence, independence, identity formation, focus, and pride through accomplishment.