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Seeing the joy sailing brought his two brothers was what convinced Kwame Hinds to become a sailor. His brothers were in the Barbados Yachting Association's sailing programme, but Kwame, who was around 9 years old at the time, was too young to join.
He would get his shot at 11 years old. Now twenty-four years and numerous awards later, he is coach and president of the Barbados J24 Club. The former Harrisonian said he wanted to see a sailing programme in the school system so that young people can have the opportunity to participate.
He said he would also like to see inter-sailing school sports make a return, adding that the idea was not as farfetched as it seemed. “Sports is very useful in keeping the youth focused. It helps to keep them disciplined and occupied. If we can implement a programme where sailing is taught in schools, it would see more young persons of all backgrounds involved,” he said.
Though sailing, according to Kwame, is one of the less popular sports in Barbados, he hopes that people will become more interested and participate. “Sailing is one of those sports that can go very far given our weather conditions. The athletes can go to the top of the sport, whether Olympics or the Americas Cup. I would like to see the sport become more widespread across Barbados. We need to make it more available and accessible to the entire population,” he said.
He added that because sailing did not receive as much exposure as the mainstream sports, Bajans knew very little about sailing and did not fully appreciate the sport as an athletic sport.
Kwame said sailing provided him with many travelling opportunities, and he was always proud to represent Barbados. He competed in Bequia, Tobago, St. Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, and was adjudged J24 Champion in Newport in 2014, the 2015 Blazer’s National Champion, he won four J24 Championships locally, and was awarded the Alan Taylor Memorial trophy last year.
He pointed out that he preferred racing on lasers since it separated you as an athlete, as opposed to sailing on a J24 which is a six-man keelboat.
Though he has not competed recently through a leg injury, Kwame has been passing on knowledge of the sport to the next generation of sailors. He said he enjoyed being a coach, and had high Olympic hopes for some of his protégés. “We have pretty good prospects for 2020. A lot of people don’t recognise that excluding track & field, sailing has the highest number of athletes because there are so many different classes of boats that are sailed at the Olympics. Sailing gives people the greatest opportunity to actually make an Olympic squad,” he said.
Referred to as a tactician by many, the former college-track athlete is not your ordinary sailor- he really knows his stuff. That may have something to do with the degree he has in Electrical Engineering, a field he said he always had a keen interest in and which helps him when he is on the sea.
He said while sailing can be fun it was important to have knowledge of weather patterns, and calls for one to be quick on their feet.“You have to know the meteorology aspect of it such as the weather, windshift, windspeed, and an understanding of navigation, sails, and angles,” he said, “There’s a lot of engineering behind it; it’s a very tactical sport which requires a lot of mental power.”
Excited to take part in the Barbados Olympic Association’s Independence Games, Kwame said it was a fantastic concept which he hoped would continue, and see the participation of regional competitors in all of the sport disciplines.
When he is not teaching his seven-year- old son how to play the recorder, a talent many does not know he possess, he is relaxing at sea.
“Being on the sea gives me freedom. When you are out there it’s just you and mother nature,” he said.