Sept 14, 2017
Bob Britten in the white hat in the car doorway, Kate is beside him. Lesley is the woman leaning on the guy with the red hat.
This year the Laser Canadian Masters’ Championships were held on Lake Wabamun and hosted by the Wabamun Sailing Club, about an hour’s drive west of Edmonton. Sailors came from as far east as Ontario (one, only, who did not cover himself in glory, but enjoyed the swimming lessons) and west to BC’s Vancouver Island.
For those of us who have been around the block a few times and pay attention to our National and Olympic Team members, Lake Wabamun will sound familiar as several WSC members became National and/or Olympic Team members. Peter van Muyden, one of Canada’s International Race Officers is a long-time member of the club.
It should not have come as a surprise, therefore, to discover that sailing on Lake Wabamun requires talent. Handling 18 plus knots of wind with gusts up to 30 knots with 25 degree shifts requires skill, strength and excellent technique. Due to fantastic sponsorship from Volvo Canada, the organizers were able to bring in a coach from the UK to run a clinic for three days leading up to the event. The Alberta Sailing Association was generous enough to supply a coach as well for the duration of the event, and believe me when I say he had his hands full! Fortunately the water was warm even though the air was chilly for those who did almost as much swimming as sailing.
Forty-six sailors registered for the three day event which required competitors to be at least 35 years old (apprentices aged 35-44 numbered three). Masters are 45 to 54 (nine), Grand Masters 55-64 (26!) and the Great Grand Masters are 65+, of which there were (8). Competitors at Masters events are handicapped based on their age.
I’d like to say that the high winds separated the men from the women, or the men from the boys, but two women, Lesley Reichenfeld, top female, and Kate Easton (top apprentice) managed to sail all of the races despite the gusty high winds which caused about half the fleet to head to shore both Saturday and Sunday. Mark Lammens, a Finn sailor formerly of the National Team, said it was the first time he had ever capsized in a Laser, but his size and skill allowed him to secure second place. The secret to winning, according to champion Robert Britten, from Royal Victoria Yacht Club was keeping the boat upright. Bob, a former Thunderbird World Champion, switched to a Radial rig on the windiest day, and never finished worse than fourth in any race.
Full results can be found at