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Cheers to Chelsea’s award

Andi Thornhill

Cheers to Chelsea’s award

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I love watersheds. That’s why I’m in support of Chelsea Tuach winning the Sports Personality Of The Year award.
It is not very often in the history of the award that people from the so-called minor sports have won it.
Kevin Denny in chess, Ivorn McKnee in weightlifting and Karen Meakins in squash have been among those outside of the mass sports that have earned the accolade in the past two decades. 
Surfing is cast in this light and Chelsea’s triumph should bring it more into the spotlight.
This is not to give the impression that it hasn’t been making waves over the years, but surfers now being able to boast of having the Sports Personality Of The Year will raise their self-esteem and provide an added boost.
Parental support and help from various sponsors have played their part in Tuach’s success over the years and neither factor should be underestimated. 
I am certain that Chelsea’s accolade will inspire others to get involved in the sport because they might perceive it as a medium that brings recognition and, hopefully, fortune if they become successful professionals on the circuit.
Role models 
Without incentives and role models, some may fall way short of what their ability and potential signify is possible.
Tuach has inadvertently become a guiding light because excellence in her craft has given her national prominence.
People like her don’t always intentionally set out to be trailblazers but circumstances can intervene to change their stations in life and transform and invigorate them.
I hope surfing’s success will also nudge sports tourism planners into seeing beach culture as another gateway to generate foreign exchange.
This point has been made many times by our own windsurfing legend Brian Talma, the self-styled Action Man.
I can’t think of any local individual who has done more to push beach culture than Talma, who not only has a title that mirrors his ebullient personality,
but has hosted his own Waterman Festival at Silver Sands for years.
The festival integrates skills including windsurfing, kite surfing and even conch-blowing competitions.
Pierhead marina
Sailing can also make a significant input in this area once the planned Pierhead marina comes on stream.
For starters, we will be able to accommodate even bigger vessels from a commercial and sporting perspective.
Consequently, we will also be able to bid for more world championships. We have been given top marks for our sailing conditions and our organisational skills.
The marina will enhance our earning capacity once it provides the level of facilities to equal the kind of business it will attract.
For instance, there should be provision for Immigration and Customs so that clearing won’t be a hassle.
We must be mindful of the amount of business we have lost since neighbours like Antigua, St Lucia and Grenada brought their sailing facilities to international standards.
Bathsheba, which is Chelsea’s stomping ground, is revered as one of the best surfing locations in the world if we are to go by testimonials even from foreigner surfers.
Can’t the local surfing and tourism authorities team up to have more mainstream competitions there at strategic times of the year?
November is pivotal, but how big a window is January to Easter, and then summer to explore more possibilities?
If we are now talking about diversifying our economic landscape, sport should be a major consideration going forward.
There is definitely a place for surfing, especially with the growing international profile of Chelsea Tuach.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced and award-winning sports journalist.