Three local athletes are hoping to sail their way to victory at one of the most prestigious youth sporting events in the province this summer.
Sixteen-year-olds Abby Brown, Cameron Wallace and Makena Shepard of Victoria have been selected to compete in sailing at the B.C. Summer Games in Abbotsford later this month.
The trio qualified for the Games earlier this year following successful finishes at a local regatta, which required contestants to finish in the top of their category to qualify to compete in the Games.
“We were ecstatic,” said Brown, who is part of the crew and responsible for controlling the two front sails, and keeping the sailboat flat. “We couldn’t stop smiling, we were really excited about it.”
Brown will go to the Games alongside her skipper, Caitlyn Shum, and Wallace. They will compete in the 420 category (a two-person boat that’s roughly 12-feet-long). Shepard will race solo in the lazer radial category in a roughly four-metre-long sailboat.
Sailing is not just a sport for these teenagers, but a passion.
“When you get out there, there’s no timelines, you get to go out there and it’s like an escape from reality. You get to be there and be in the moment,” said Brown, who has been sailing since she was a child and is excited to see how they’ll measure up to other competitors.
For Wallace, the physical and mental aspect of sailing provides a unique challenge that tests all of his abilities.
Heading into the Games, each team will be practicing their skills with their respective teams, including double taps to maneuver away from other boats, making sure they know how to stop and stay on the start line and ensuring the boat is sailing as fast as it can go.
While they practice several times a week (often times racing against each other) at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, one of the biggest challenges for the trio will be the environment. Instead of sailing in the ocean, they’ll be competing in a lake.
“It will be interesting to see how current won’t be a factor,” said Wallace, adding he’ll be racing with his skipper Hannah in the male category. “(We’ll be) dealing with being probably one of the lighter boats on the course and dealing with heavy winds and keeping our boat under control.”
For Shepard, staying concentrated for the full three days will also be a challenge.
“It’s tiring being on the water for that long,” she said, adding the course has a two-hour time limit, but most races she’s competed in the past have only taken 45 minutes. “Racing in a place you’ve never been before can also bring up new challenges. I want to do my best and stay concentrated.”
The B.C. Summer Games are a biennial celebration of sport and community, bringing together more than 3,600 athletes to compete in 18 sports, including baseball, basketball, equestrian, lacrosse, synchronized swimming, triathlon, volleyball and wrestling. The Games take place in Abbotsford from July 21 to 24.