Panamanian village boys compete in the World Sailing Championship

Angelo Smith ganó el segundo lugar de los 65 barcos que competían en el Campeonato Mundial de Vela en Sant Feliu de Guíxols (España) en julio de 2015.

This post is also available in: Spanish

On-the-Water by Ilene Little

Nelson and Angelo Smith, two local youths who live on Isla Contadora, last year competed in the, Splash World Competition, a Youth Sailing World Championship event organized by the International Sailing Federation and held in Sant Feliu de Guixols, Spain.

Nineteen year old Nelson Reyes Smith and his 16 year old brother, Angelo Rodon Smith, take part in the Vela Para Todos Program, an outfit dedicated to offering free sailing activities to children and youth residents of Las Perlas.

Angelo Smith wins second place out of 65 boats competing at the Splash Worlds in Sant Feliu de Guíxols (Spain) in July 2015.

Angelo Smith wins second place out of 65 boats competing at the Splash Worlds in Sant Feliu de Guíxols (Spain) in July 2015.

From December 1, 2014, through March 31, 2015, the Smith brothers trained daily for the Vela Para Todos competition which included a trip to Spain with all expenses paid.

Vela Para Todos is an annual program for kids aged 13 and older and for youths up to the age of 21. The program was initiated by Marti Ferrer, his wife Yaiza Homs and by Jacob Baió. Ferrer is also the director and manager of Sailing Club Panama S.A., while Homs is its director and Baió is the coordinator

“It was the trip of a lifetime for the Smith brothers and the first time either of the two local boys had been out of the country,” said Homs.

“The brothers arrived in Spain on May 25th and lived with us while they continued to train for the July competition,” said Homs, who together with her husband has operated their sailing school in Barcelona, Spain since 1997. The brothers returned to Contadora on September 15, 2015.

“Some of our Catalonia team sailing instructors were the same ages as Nelson and Angelo, so they became friends,” sail Homs, “it is for sure that they will never forget one another.”

Vela para Todos sailing instructor Jacob Baió introduces the children of Contadora Island to the fun of sailing a Laser Bahia.

Vela para Todos sailing instructor Jacob Baió introduces the children of Contadora Island to the fun of sailing a Laser Bahia.

Homs acknowledged the generosity of Pau Llopart, a Catalonian philanthropist whose extensive personal support and fundraising efforts made possible the ‘Vela Para Todos’ program and the boys’ trip to Spain. Llopart escorted the boys on their round-trip flights to and from Spain.

Local businesses have also generously contributed, but the bulk of the funds come from the retail profits of the Sailing Club Panama S.A..

December 8th started the 2015-2016 season of Isla Saboga, Isla Contadora, and for the first time, the village youth of Isla Pedro Gonzalez will participate this year. The program will run through March 2016. They are committed to repeating the success of the Vela Para Todos program this year, and are asking for contributions or support

There are two programs; one for kids who just want to have fun, and another for talented youth who have the necessary attitude to be trained and compete in international regattas.

The youth program is an extensive, training program that requires the competitors to train several hours a day, as was the case of the Smith Brothers in 2015. This season’s two best sailors will be chosen to compete in the 2016 Splash World Competition in Spain.

For more information or to donate to Vela Para Todos, visit their website www.velaparatodos.org.

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