Alejandro B. M. and Alejandro C. S. are very excited. They have been learning the rudiments of sailing for three weeks. They know where port and starboard are, and what a mizzen or a genoa sail are. They can clean the hatches of a boat, tie several different types of sailors’ knots and today, they are going to go down to the engine room to learn how to perform some maintenance tasks on the engines. Alejandro and Alejandro are 15 years old and form part of the Alter Programme of the General Directorate of Attention to Minors for young people who have difficulty in adapting to the school system. Of all the possible trades they were given a choice of, they have selected sailing, which is why they were referred to the Fundació Joves Navegants (Young Sailors’ Foundation) to do a training course.
Joves Navegants was established in 1992 by a group of professionals from the nautical sector who realised that many young Mallorcans lack opportunities to try sailing and the benefits it brings, in spite of the fact that they live on an island and are therefore surrounded by sea.
In 2003, they received the sailing boat Galaxie as a donation, a vessel measuring 21 metres in length and 5 metres in width, with a draught of 3 metres and a displacement of 30 tons, which is boarded every year by up to 300 young people from different programmes to discover the benefits of sailing.
The foundation helps these vulnerable young people to set the course of their life through ‘sail training’. Recognised globally as a valuable option for developing self-esteem and confidence, this training proposal is extremely useful for transmitting values such as teamwork, discipline, effort and a will to succeed. Sailing, the youngsters learn to assume responsibilities, to realise how important it is to complete their tasks, to respect the hierarchy on board and to take care of themselves and their coursemates.
‘By taking the young people out to sea we place them in an implacable natural environment that gives a sensation of risk and adventure. Sailing on the Galaxie requires great physical effort and calls for teamwork, which strengthens self-discipline, tolerance and empathy’, the foundation explains.
With ‘sail training’, Joves Navegants has helped around 1,500 youngsters from the Balearic Islands with problems of adaptation to the school system, or who are at risk of social exclusion, and also enabled them to gain first-hand experience of a thrilling sector with numerous career possibilities in the Balearics.
The result of this intense work has been the special mention that the foundation received in December 2018 in the Timón Prize, organized by the Nautical Gazette and sponsored by Puerto Portals.