There is a first time for everything and in this case for the town of Sylvan Lake it’s to play host to a national championship.
The September long weekend will see sailing crews from the west coast to Ontario converge on the waters of Sylvan Lake for the 2012 CYA (Canadian Yachting Association) Women’s National Keelboat championship.
The race site alternates between east and west locations each year but this is the first time it has been held in the prairies according to Rick Howard with the race management committee.
The four person crews will race in identical 24-ft. Martin242’s over a 1.1 nautical mile course, said Martin.
“The end result is the best sailors are going to walk away with the trophy.”
The competitors will be racing in the boats supplied by the Sylvan Lake Sailing Club which has 15 of the 242’s in its fleet.
Martin says the committee goes over each boat to make sure they are absolutely identical. “We are doing kind of a safety check but we’re also making sure that they’re all rigged the same way and perform the same way.”
As well, competitors will be able to select their own boat through a draw.
All the boats’ names are placed in a sealed container and the skipper of each team will draw a boat with the order determined by when the team registered for the event.
“So nobody knows what boat they get until Thursday night,” he said. “It’s kind of a different system but I think it will add some fun to it.”
Friday is a training day with a clinic and a practice race as well with the real racing beginning on Saturday.
“With a good breeze they could do five or six races in a day which is pretty grueling on a crew,” said Martin, adding a race could take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.
Martin says racing on the lake is a little different because there is just the wind to deal with as opposed to some locations where the water has some current for the crews to battle as well.
You will see the teams all take off from the start line but then they will each break off in different directions as everybody is looking for wind, said Martin.
“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line but you can’t do that in sailing,” he said. “It’s a great big chessboard is really what it is out there.”
The event runs from Aug. 30th through to Sept. 2nd and spectators are welcome.