Challenging winds tested women sailors in national championship

National sailing championship races which took place for the first time ever on Sylvan Lake are being described as a huge success.

They’re off - The start of a race is exciting for all those participating as the try to get as close to the start line as possible without going over before the timed signal. After being bunched up to cross the line between two boats

They’re off - The start of a race is exciting for all those participating as the try to get as close to the start line as possible without going over before the timed signal. After being bunched up to cross the line between two boats

National sailing championship races which took place for the first time ever on Sylvan Lake are being described as a huge success.

“It was amazing, an absolutely amazing success,” said Norma Turner, commodore of the host Sylvan Lake Sailing Club, and one of the participants in the Canadian Yachting Association Women’s Keelboat Nationals during the weekend.

The 11 teams enjoyed big winds both days although Saturday morning got a little too strong and they had to suspend racing for a while until it became safe to compete again.

“They were very challenging winds but these women were up for the challenge,” said Turner. “It was very difficult sailing conditions yet there were no major mishaps. Everyone had a good time and we had amazing coaching so we all learned a lot.”

This was the first time the national championships have been held on the prairies. “People from elsewhere were quite surprised. They never knew we had this kind of facility here. I think we impressed them,” she said.

“The whole club really, really went out of their way, the boat owners provided their boats, committee members, all volunteers, it was an amazing effort to make this thing work.”

One of the unique elements of the race is that the yachting association requires the host club to have a fleet of boats of one design for use in the championships. Sylvan Lake’s club had enough member-owned Martin 242 sailboats which were generously offered to competitors.

Turner also complimented the racers who contributed a lot of time, effort and money to get here. “It was such a great atmosphere, to come together with a bunch of women, get out on the water. It was an amazing experience of camaraderie.”

Among the sailors was a young group from Calgary’s Glenmore Sailing Club who were mostly dinghy sailors. “They pulled together as a team,” said Turner. “They’re not professional sailors, just everyday people who come out and put some time and effort into learning how to sail.”

“We also need to credit the Sylvan Lake community with the success,” added Turner. “We had great sponsors, support from food and accommodation venues, all suppliers. We had really good support, lots of door prizes.”

The sailors began with a meet and greet last Thursday evening, then attended a training clinic with Michael Clements, current Martin 242 Canadian National Champion and Fleet Captain of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, last Friday morning. The clinic concluded with practise races under the direction of multi-Olympic race officer Paul Ulibarri.

The group was also together each evening for dinner and entertainment, which added to the camaraderie of the event.

The championship was won by the Okanagan team of Gillian Hayward, Jen Braem, Tammy Moore and Tanis Coletti representing Kelowna Yacht Club sailing in I’m Alone.

Second place went to the Royal Victoria Yacht Club entry of Lynn Sutherland, Janice Brown, Jan Walsh and Judith Neville sailing Treachery.

The third place team included Marg Hurley and Michele Cimon of Ottawa, Brenda Bevis of Vancouver and Donna Switzer of Calgary sailing Greyling.

Representing the Sylvan Lake Sailing Club were four teams.

The Chicks Ahoy team of Linda Boyd, Cheryl Murdock, Gail Surkan and Nancy Smith finished in sixth place sailing Pyrophoric.

The Sorcerer Gone 242ing team of Kathy Martin, Joyce Ulsifer, Laura Larsen and Heather Tee-Saganis placed eighth sailing Zepher.

The Boom Booms team of Norma Turner, Debbie Russell, Linda Ethier and Grace Ford finished in ninth position sailing Steal Breeze.

On Eightball, the TRYM team of Marg Phelan, Yvonne Bradshaw, Tracey Andersen and Rita Johnson placed tenth.