Saint John hosts youth sailing regatta for everyone, from novices to Olympic hopefuls
Featuring about 80 sailors and their coaches along with racing officials and Olympic level coaches, this weekend’s Sail East 2017 Youth Regatta is a world-class event.
For the Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club in Saint John, hosting the event provides definite benefits.
“It’s a great opportunity for our kids to learn from the best sailors in Atlantic Canada,” said Heather McBriarty, the event chair. “It’s an opportunity for our local adults to learn judging skills, race officer skills from nationally certified judges and race officers.”
After this weekend, the more advanced sailors will leave for the Canada Games and after that, if they’re lucky enough, to even loftier heights.
“I know from speaking to several of them the next step for them is the national team,” said Gary Sullivan, New Brunswick Canada Games Sailing Coach. “So they are sailing this event as the signature east coast Sail Canada event not only for the championship it presents but as a stepping stone to bigger things.”
McBriarty compared the process to kids playing minor league hockey.
“Kids are aspiring to the NHL. These kids are aspiring to the Olympics,” she said.
Sailing has a rich tradition in the Maritimes.
About half of the Canadian Olympic sailing participants at the 2016 Summer Games came from the Maritime provinces.
“It’s just the tradition that Maritimers have and the connection with the ocean,” said Augustine Ferrario, the Head Race Coach for the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadrant.”How they’re resilient in handling the rough weather, and the winds and the ocean…whatever the elements throw at them”.
And for those interested in taking it up, those involved with the sport say it’s not exclusive to those of a certain income level.
“If you’ve got an old pair of sneakers for your feet and a bathing suit and a life jacket, everything else you need shows up at the sailing school,” said Sullivan. “All the equipment is provided.”
The racing portion of this weekend’s regatta is Saturday and Sunday.
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