Branden Sands of Cherokee Sound, a 15-year-old student of Forest Heights Academy, is preparing to meet the next challenge in his remarkable young sailing career. In 2013 he competed against hundreds of junior sailors in the North American Optimists Championship in Bermuda and then in the World Optimist Championship in Lake Garda Italy. This year he will be competing between August 9 -21 in the Cork International Regatta and then in the Laser Youth Radial World Championship in Kingston, Ontario.
There will be eleven days of racing between the two regattas. He was selected for the four member team during a series of sailing events in Nassau, the final qualifier having been the Bahamas Olympic Youth Regatta when he placed third.
In Italy Branden competed in the Optimist class but now his increased height and weight have made it necessary for him to move up to a larger boat. He has progressed from an 8 foot Optimist to a 14 foot Laser.
“This is a totally different boat and so has necessitated many adjustments. This is a class of boat I can stay with,” says Branden. “This year I will be going for the experience and to gain knowledge for the future and one day I hope to represent The Bahamas in the Olympics.”
Branden will once again be the only Family Island sailor on the team. He makes the most of these international regattas, not only for the races themselves but also for the excellent tuition he receives from sailing coaches from all around the world who are willing to share their knowledge.
Since we last heard from Branden after his successful trip to the ‘Worlds’ in Italy, he has been busy competing and doing well throughout the Bahamas and Florida. In September 2013, shortly after returning from Italy he won the Bahamas Laser Junior National Regatta in the 4.7 size sail division. The following month he came 4th overall in the Opti Nationals in Harbour Island.
Now that Branden is too tall and heavy to sail the Opti boats he has shifted his focus to the Laser class but unfortunately he is the only competitive Laser sailor in Abaco. This makes it very difficult for him to gain the necessary experience as a competitive sailor because there is no-one to spar with. He travels to Nassau to train and compete.
In June 2014 he moved up to the larger more competitive Radial sail division and placed 3rd in the Bahamas Youth Olympic Laser Regatta.
Branden always seems to be on the move and has competed in many other regattas in Nassau, the Family Islands and Florida since his trip to the worlds in Italy.
“This is a very expensive sport,” he explained. “When I go away to compete I have to lease a boat and any of the equipment I am not able to carry with me.”
Branden’s family are in the process of trying to raise the necessary funding for him to go and represent The Bahamas in Canada in August. They are organizing sailing fun days, and cook outs and hope that the public will support these events. Anyone wishing to help this young sailor represent his country may send a donation for Branden Sands c/o The Abaco Junior Sailing Association, P.O. Box AB 20805, Abaco, Bahamas, or may contact his father firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every summer Branden has assisted with coaching for the Man o War Sailing programme, which is actually where he began his sailing career. He also sails with the Hope Town Sailing Club. Branden’s sailing exploits can be followed on his Facebook page ‘BrandenSandsforAbaco.’