‘It was an ecstatic moment’: Queen’s sailing check-in

After winning dinghy team racing nationals, Queen’s sets sail for keelboat nationals

The sailing team competed in Kingston two weeks ago.
Credit: 
Supplied by A&R

The Queen’s sailing team is a student-organized varsity club that competes most weekends from September through November. The team has 30 members and competes in two types of sailboat racing: dinghy and keelboat.

Queen’s has seen success this season. The dinghy team competed at the team racing national championship held in Kingston two weeks ago and finished in first place. The keelboat team, although newer and less experienced, will travel to B.C. in February to finish off their successful season at keelboat nationals.

The Journal met with the team’s captains to discuss their season so far.

Samuel Rizk, Comm ’23, is one of the captains and primarily competes for the keelboat team. He spoke about the daily training and commitment needed to be a member of the team.

The team meets multiple times a week to practice technical skill on the water, sailing theory, or physical fitness, depending on the weather.

“A lot of our sailors throughout this season were able to improve their skills and learn more about their position,” Rizk said.

The keelboat team has been extremely focused on learning this new form of competition. Keelboats are larger boats that require a team of six to eight athletes to operate. In contrast, dinghy racing is done in teams of two.

Perhaps the biggest difference is boat familiarity.

Regardless of where they compete—Montreal, Halifax, Hamilton, or Kingston—the dinghy team always competes on International 420 Dinghy boats provided for them on location.

Meanwhile, the keelboat team also travels across the continent, but they get a different make of sailboat each time. For example, when they travelled to Chicago to compete last month, they spend half a day learning the new equipment.

Despite these challenges, however, the keelboat team has found success. They placed sixth out of 16 teams at the Chicago tournament, a remarkable result given the difference in funding for Canadian and American teams. They placed fourth overall in New York.

Looking ahead, they will spend a lot of time in the classroom learning theory before trying for a national title in February at the match race championships.

The team’s other captain, Valerie Louis BHSC ’23, mainly competes on the dinghy team.

This team competed hard this season and has the hardware to prove it: they placed first at both the team racing and fleet racing championships.

“My favourite moment was winning team racing nationals that we were hosting a couple of weeks ago,” Louis said.

“It was insane because we were hosting the event […] The conditions were really, really difficult and the stakes were high. We had some really, really good competition. It was an ecstatic moment really for all of us who were there.”

However, it’s not always smooth sailing for the team. The captains both talked about the issue of money and the administrative tasks they handle.

At Queen’s, varsity clubs do not receive the same financial and coaching commitment as varsity teams. In some cases, like sailing, students carry a lot of the administrative burden.

Lous said the biggest challenge is “the time commitment of doing all of the logistic side of the team as well as competing and racing.”

“It can get a little bit a lot sometimes,” she added.

“Money also is a big thing; we kind of finance ourselves,” Rizk said in a follow up. “Sailing is an expensive sport.”

Despite these struggles, however, the team still values every minute on the water.

“It’s really an avenue for a lot of us to destress,” Louis said.

“A lot of us are really the happiest that we can be when we are on water so that just encourages people to show up to practice all the time […] we are all kind of bonding over a common interest that we absolutely love.”

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