Pay to Play Perfect Option for Sailors Looking for Sailing Fun

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Germaine Williams was supposed to go sailing one day when he was about 12 years old but it was too windy, so he didn’t go on that particular day. It was some ten years later when he was in his early 20s that a challenge to achieve something he’d always wanted to do came along. He decided he was going to sail across the Atlantic and that event became his first sailing experience.

A few years later Williams got into dinghies and became a dinghy instructor, but the time came when he wanted to do more big boat sailing and racing, but he didn’t find it easy to get on a boat.

“I just wasn’t finding anything, so I ended up chartering boats and messaging people on crew boards who were looking for opportunities to go sailing and willing to split costs to charter,” Williams recalled. “People got back to me and that is how his business Sail Racing Academy (SRA), based in London, started in 2018.”

Sailing on SRA’s Escapado, a Beneteau First 40.7, this week for BVI Spring Regatta is a team of six with a mix of nationalities and ages ranging 21 to 60-something. Some of the crew on board are doing a gap year or taking a sabbatical and have been on the boat for some time, while others are on board just to race BVI Spring Regatta. Escapado has sailed BVI Spring Regatta some five times previously, but this is William’s first time racing in the BVI.

“Racing yesterday was challenging in the light winds but it was good fun,” he said. “We had the big breeze earlier in the week so to have something different was interesting.”

Williams cites his biggest challenge with his charter model is working with diverse skill levels –from those who have never been on a boat before let alone put up a spinnaker, to people who have raced previously.

“You are trying to teach how to do something while not overloading with information at the same time, so it becomes a matter of how much time you spend describing what’s going to happen versus how much time do you spend throwing them in at the deep end and saying, that’s what it looks like, let’s improve upon it next time.”

Ben Newman (Cambridge, UK) was looking for some sailing to do after he finished university. An ad for Sail Racing Academy piqued his interest and he signed up. He’s been sailing with SRA for the past six weeks and he’s having a great time.

“I’ve sailed in the past, but this is a very different experience,” Newman noted. “This is more racing than cruising, so the sailing is approached differently, it’s really good fun. It improves your awareness of what’s going on around you, I’ve learned a lot in the last few weeks. It’s a really good way to build experience and improve as a sailor.”

It’s Newman’s first time to the BVI and he’s loving it.

“It’s absolutely beautiful, you see one nice island and think, “Wow, that is so nice,” then you turn around and there’s another one which is just as nice! The first two days of racing were great conditions and when the wind is on, it’s just ideal, with a lot of technical racing through narrow channels, it’s been great fun.”

Escapado, Scrub Island Race BVISR 2024