This is a story about a boy with a dream

November 7, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

 Rob Holden, National Training Manager, South African Sailing and ISAF’s Training Scholarship graduate gave an inspirational presentation at the ISAF Connect to Sailing Seminar. It was about a six year old boy who dreamt of going sailing but could only sit and watch as wealthier children enjoyed the sport. He grew up watching from the shore but eventually, aged 25, decided enough was enough. Not one to give up he bought himself a Hobie cat. Having never sailed he went to the nearest sailing club and was met with closed gates and a members only sign. Sailing was not for sale. Not one to give up he launched from the nearest public slipway, sailed towards the restricted clubs rescue boats and caught their attention by capsizing.

On to another club and more closed doors where no one was sailing. So what did he do about it.

The young man set up his own sailing school to give the average kid on the street the opportunity to sail, so they could get the grin from sailing and enjoy their independence. The school started with some leaky old Optimists. They made many mistakes on the way but still took 300 youngsters sailing.

Fast forward a bit and how to get to the next level with a bucket load of passion but without the wider training and coaching skills.  Working with the South African Sailing Association the man became ISAFs first Training Scholarship graduate where he gained the skills to turn his knowledge and passion in to excellent training.

The six year old Boy was Rob Holden and he still watches other children sailing but its those that he is giving the joy of sailing too.

And today I am sure he has passed on his enthusiasm and drive to many more who will go forwards to work with ISAF and get more people afloat.



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  1. Rob’s dream has benefited a whole town – Mossel Bay is now training central for South African Sailing. We shot these interviews at a recent train the trainers event in the town:

    You can read a media release about the vent here:

    Rob’s a legend!

  2. Rob and his wife Elfie have set up a wonderful sailing school in Mossel Bay. The passion and time they give this community is completely unselfish. They have brought sailing to those who can’t afford expensive boats and equipment. They are a real credit to this town and to South African Sailing.

  3. Rob has been a great asset to our club, the Mossel Bay Yacht and Boat Club (MBYBC). He has a passion for saling development, not only in Mossel Bay, but for the whole of South Africa. He has insipred other with his enthusiam for sailing. He has given up of his own time and money to reach his dream and is supported by his wife and family. We are very proud to have Rob as a member of our club. Mike McCarthy – President of MBYBC.

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