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The arrival in Belize of 26 new Optimist boats marks the 'unofficial' launch of Project Optimist, run by the recently formed Belize Sailing Association.

As we had announced in a former article, Belize have benefitted from our 6 for 5 scheme and is now the proud owner of 26 brand new Optimist boats, built by Shanghai Far East, one of 30 IODA approved builders. The boats will be used by the Belize Sailing Association to launch youth sail training and for Belize to compete internationally at this entry level.

There are Optimist dinghy clubs forming in Belize City, Ladyville, Belmopan and San Pedro Ambergris with interest expressed in Corozal, Dangriga and Placencia. The Belize City Club will be based on Sea Scouts and is in the process of organizing an Optimist Summer Camp on Buttonwood Bay. Sunday 26 June will see the official launch of Project Optimist, the programme to develop junior sailing by seeking sponsorship, building infrastructure and educating instructors. The project is also aiming to produce new sailors for other traditional sailing classes in a subsequent program known as "Grand Fleet Sailing", thus providing "meaningful activity" for youth and adults alike.

Earlier this month, Belize was admitted to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) as a "Full Member National Authority (MNA)" of the world governing body for sailing with all benefits including entry to all international sailing events.