August 31, 2022
Last week at Chester Race Week, 20-year-old Savannah Taylor at the helm of Hard Eight won the PHRF Distance 1 Division with two bullets in four races.
It’s no easy road to be a 20-year-old female skipper but that Taylor has always had tremendous support from her family, father Lawrence Taylor, mother Anne Swim, Grandfather Ken Taylor and Grandmother Sherri Taylor (Sherri just recently passed away unexpectedly and has been a tremendous loss to everyone including our Yacht club family, she was a huge supporter and motivator of Savannah and her sailing).
Savannah started sailing at the age of 8 after her Grandmother Sherri promised to reward her with sleeping on their boat, “The Brown Eyed Girl” if she would attend sailing school at the Shelburne Sailing Academy.
Savannah ended up staying for three consecutive weeks taking sailing to extend her stay with her grandmother and grandfather (Ken). She continued to sail and eventually began racing at the Royal NS Yacht Squadron. Savannah’s love has always been to race.
In 2018 she went to Germany to compete in Kiel Week, she also in the same year competed at Worlds and raced in Europe and US through RNSYS. In 2019 Savannah qualified as the Female I420 to represent Canada at the Youth Worlds in Poland and in 2019 she also won Nova Scotia Female Youth Sailor of the Year.
In 2020 Savannah sailed 470 for a while before dedicating her focus to her studies – currently Civil Engineering at Dalhousie University. Savannah’s goal is to graduate from her program and to follow her dream and charter boats internationally. Competitive sailing is at the forefront of Savannah’s mind with the goal to compete at the America’s Cup. It is without a doubt that if Savannah attacks this goal the same way she attacked Chester Race Week she will compete and win.
This recent win was not an easy task considering the obstacles she faced.
Hard 8 wasn’t even in the water and Savannah had to face struggles to maintain and gather just the right crew. In the past, her family (grandfather, Ken Taylor, and father, Lawrence Taylor) were so committed to Chester Race Week that they had received an award for racing in the B Class for a consecutive 25 years. Chester Race Week was a family tradition formed well before Savannah’s birth.
As a first-time skipper, Savannah had to break with some traditions in order to compete to win. Historically her grandfather had a more the merrier attitude toward crew on the boat and at 20 Savannah had the hard decision to reduce the crew numbers to what would allow the boat to perform at its best ability. This was met with some resistance, but Savannah pushed through and stayed focused on her goal to win. At one point Chester Race Week Legend Arthur Backman ran into Savannah’s father Lawrence and said with glee “You finally found someone that could sail your boat!” further solidifying that the decisions Savannah made as skipper were what was needed to win. All parties involved had nothing but pride in their hearts to see such an accomplished young female achieve this win. When motoring in from the final race the song “Brown Eyed Girl” played on the radio.
She is being celebrated later in September with a Commodore’s Reception at the Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club where it all started.