August 16, 2023
By Mark Lammens
The 70s were an exciting time in Eastern Canada. Montreal hosted the Olympics and built a spectacular new stadium as well as the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour in Kingston.
There was also a new focus on youth sports as part of the Olympic legacy. Royal Bank of Canada sponsored the Youth Olympics in Olympic sports. Ontario Sailing Association’s then Executive Director, Alf Jenkins, sanctioned multi youth regattas for 13, 16 and 19 -and-unders in single-handed, double-handed and triple handed sailing classes. This included zone qualifiers for provincial championships in the 13 and under and 16 and under double-handed classes.
Competitors raced in provided club boats, rotating after each race: Flying Juniors, Norburgs, 420s and others. Racing for 16 and unders sometimes was done in the larger Albacore Class.
The province was divided into different zones and clubs would have sail-offs to select their club representative. The winner of the zone sail-off competed at the provincials. Double-handed 16-and-under events eventually became an open ‘bring your own boat’ format in later years.
There were also 16 and under single-handed championships in Laser, an open event sailed on a Thursday and Friday. Kingston Yacht Club hosted the Ontario 16 and under triple-handed championships sailed in Sharks. They also hosted the 16 and under team racing event raced in Lasers on a Thursday and Friday.
In 19 and under, which was the World Sailing youth age limit before it was changed to 18-and -under, the single-handed championships were held on the weekend in Lasers, the double-handed was held in Albacores, and the Triple-handed was sailed in Lightnings. These events were staggered so that sailors could compete in all of them. The Lightning class loaned boats to out of town or out of province sailors.
These youth events identified future National Team success – today’s terminology is Talent Identification and Next Generation. Rod Davies won many Ontario Youth events and went on to win the World Youth Championships and represent Canada at the Olympics. Nigel Cochrane and Gord Mcllquham finished 4th at a Worlds and 6th at the Olympics. Long time National Team Coach, Ken Dool, won many Ontario Championships as a youth. Other Ontario 13, 16 and 19 and under medalists include High Performance Director, Mike Milner, who finished 5th and Gordie Anderson who finished 3rd at a World Championships as well as Karen and Gail Johnson won the World Championships and represented Canada at the first women’s class at the Olympics.
Terry Neilson who won a Bronze medal at the Olympics and finished 2nd at the Gold Cup (World Championships). He has said winning the Ontario 13 and unders was the start of his sailing career. His family bought him a Laser after that win. He showed interest, promise and prowess which justified the family investment.
Hank Lammens won the 13-and-unders as well as the 16-and -unders as a 14 year old and won the National 19 and unders double-handed with his sister, Joanne, as a 16 year old. He said winning Ontario provincial events helped them win the Youths. He went on to win the first medal by a Canadian at the World youth championships in Laser.
Hank also went on to win two World Championships and finished 2nd in another and he won multiple International and National championships. It all started at the Ontario Sailing Association’s 13-and-unders in North Bay.
For the past 35 years, Mark has been involved in many aspects of the sport as an athlete in the Finn and Soling, as Canadian Team Coach at big games, but also on home waters, and of course as a volunteer and administrator.