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Monday 14th January 2013

It was a quiet afternoon at Antigua Yacht Club on Friday, January 11, but it wasn’t because there was nothing going on.  In fact, something very exciting took place at AYC on Friday afternoon.  Rock legend Pete Townshend, on behalf of rock band The Who, presented six brand new Laser Pico sailing dinghies to representatives of Antigua’s National Sailing Academy (‘NSA’).  Present to accept the generous donation were five National Sailing Academy students, President of the NSA Elizabeth Jordan, and Chief Sailing Instructor Karl James.  The fully-rigged dinghies, featuring sails branded with The Who logo, were lined up on the AYC lawn and provided a very colourful background for the launch’s photo shoot.

Pete Townshend has been a fan of Antigua for several years now and has spent a fair bit of time on the island recently.  He visits Antigua frequently, often with his beautiful 126-foot Jongert classic sailing yacht, Gloria, and his 70-foot gentleman’s motor yacht, Tambura.  Two yachts notwithstanding, Pete also spends considerable time ashore in Antigua.

During a visit to Antigua last year, Pete was contacted by Bea Shrewsbury, a volunteer with the National Sailing Academy, who explained the objectives of the NSA and asked Pete to consider offering his support to the charitable organisation.  Pete was receptive to the suggestion which led to several telephone conversations and a meeting with President of the NSA, Elizabeth Jordan.  Pete then went away and did his due diligence which confirmed that the National Sailing Academy was a bone fide charitable organisation, the sole purpose of which is to teach Antiguan school children to swim and sail as part of the schools’ curriculum at no cost to the children.

It was a big thrill for the students of the National Sailing Academy to have the opportunity to meet such a famous rock star in person, but they were equally thrilled with his very generous donation to an organisation that makes a big difference in their lives.  Following the presentation the five NSA students graciously thanked Pete Townshend for the Laser Picos and expressed their sincere appreciation for his generosity.  They even invited him to go sailing with them and he appeared to be seriously tempted for a minute or two, but he eventually declined due to other commitments.

I had an opportunity to chat with Pete about his donation to the NSA and his interest in Antigua in general.  Unfortunately, he had to leave Antigua on Saturday but said he would be back next season, hopefully with both of his yachts, and he plans to stay for considerably longer.  His sailing yacht Gloria recently completed a major refit at Pendennis Shipyard in the UK and Tambura will be heading to Pendennis in the coming months for her turn at a refit.

Pete Townshend of The Who with Elizabeth Jordon, President of the National Sailing Academy, Karl James, Head Sailing Instructor, and National Sailing Academy students.

In the meantime, Pete discussed The Who’s involvement with charitable organisations and explained that as a sailor himself, the National Sailing Academy is a perfect fit with his charitable goals.  In fact, it is such a perfect fit that Pete has begun to plan a charity concert to be held in Antigua sometime early next year in support of the National Sailing Academy.  It will not be a concert by The Who as such, but will feature Pete Townshend and likely Roger Daltrey.

Plans have not yet been finalized and a date has not been set but Pete Townshend said the concert is something he very much wants to do as part of The Who’s 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2014.  So not only does the National Sailing Academy have something very exciting to look forward to, but so do the rest of us lucky ones here in Antigua!

Tremendous thanks go to Pete Townshend and The Who for their very generous donation to the National Sailing Academy and for their ongoing support.  It goes a long way towards ensuring that more and more Antiguan children have the opportunity to learn to sail!

Article by Kathy Lammers, Editor of Antigua’s Yachting Insider
Photos by Kevin Johnson,

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