Sharks Make a Splash on Lake Ontario


raceweek-sharks_make_a_splash-largeWhat does Ashbridge's Bay Yacht Club in Toronto have in common with the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Nepean Sailing Club, Britannia Yacht Club and Kelowna Yacht Club? Each has done a fabulous job of hosting the annual CYA Women's National Keelboat Championship. This event occurs annually and is open to yacht clubs across Canada that are willing and able to host the event. This year, from September 11-14, ABYC played host to 27 all-female teams of sailors racing on Sharks. A strong volunteer committee led by Janice Sharpe of ABYC organized this year's event that started off with a day of onshore and offshore training. Also on offer to the teams was the expertise of John Dakin, Jeremy Crowder and Kyle Dakin all of whom shared the tips, tricks and techniques of rigging and successfully racing Sharks on Lake Ontario. They delivered incredible advice (as volunteers) and they also followed us out on the water in chase boats with a video camera in order to be able to offer a follow-up de-brief back on shore giving all participants useful and insightful "go-faster" tips.

Armed with strategic, tactical and technical information, the 27 teams from Hudson, QC, Mississauga, ON, Kelowna, BC, Nepean, ON, Etobicoke, ON, Barrie, ON, Kingston, ON, Belleville, ON and Toronto, ON, headed out onto the race course on Saturday. Unfortunately, the weather didn't quite cooperate, but the extraordinarily efficient race committee under the direction of Don MacIntyre did manage to get two races off. Thankfully, Sunday's weather delivered both wind and sun, and four great races were completed!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the CYA Women's National Keelboat Championship, the event is not restricted to highly skilled sailors. This regatta sees past and present national team members and Olympians mixing it up with club racers, new sailors, and teams that race together regularly. One team that participated this year had only been sailing for three years when they each stepped on a boat for the first time! This event isn't restricted to any particular age group either; we had sailors from competing from 17 to over 60 years!

Congratulations go out to all those who participated – not only for sailing in this event, but also for having so much fun! After the racing, the social events were well attended. ABYC had live bands entertaining on-stage each night as well as providing food throughout the regatta. Undoubtedly a huge organizational challenge, the event was a great success not only because of the volunteers, but all the sponsors as well!

So for those women who love to sail, who want to sail with other women, who are eager to learn more about racing, and who want to see more of this wonderful country, this is the regatta for you!

At the close of this year's event, the "dock-talk" was that a host club is needed for next year. The women from Hudson Yacht Club voiced some interest, and considering that the event has been in BC and Ontario, it would be great to have the regatta out on the East Coast! I know for certain that Chester, Nova Scotia has a lot of Bluenose sailboats out there – a big one-design fleet actually! Would they host an eager group of female sailors? Will Quebec be the next province to host the regatta? There are a lot of women waiting to find out!

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