A Look Back for Alberta’s Youngest Sailors

A Look Back for Alberta’s Youngest Sailors

2023 Opti Nationals – West Vancouver Yacht Club – August 21-26, 2023

The 2023 annual Canadian Optimist Dinghy Association’s National regatta brings Canada’s best young sailors to the West Vancouver Yacht Club. This past summer Alberta had four Opti sailors ages 11-12 who attended the regatta to expand their sailing experiences. Often the first major competition in a Canadian sailor’s career, the regatta welcomed 92 Optimist sailors from across the nation. ASA assisted in supporting these sailors attending the event, cheering them on from afar and looking forward to watching these athletes grow as sailors.

Asked what the best part of the event was, what they learned, and how it felt, our Albertan athletes responded with the best answers you could ask for!

Finley Hoffman

“The best part was seeing so many Opti sailors in one place at the same time and being able to meet some of them. I learned don’t go over the start line when you are black flagged. It felt amazing and it was just incredible.”

Finley Baker

“In the morning it was a lot of fun team bonding when we were getting our boats ready. I learned that I can sail in really heavy wind. I just have to be the boss of my boat. It was cool to represent Alberta. I accomplished a lot of firsts: My first time sailing on the ocean; my first time being at an event of that size; and, my first time sailing in a fleet with that many participants.”

Samuel Mierau

“The best part of going to Nationals was the wind, current, waves, and the larger number of other sailors there. I learned how to surf the waves better, use currents to my advantage, and sailing rules and flags. It felt awesome to be one of the four Opti sailors to represent Alberta.”

Rachel Sullivan

“The best part of going to Nationals was getting towed out far into the ocean and having to hike because of the wind. I was mostly scared at the start because there were so many optis at the start line, but by the middle of the race that went away. I am new to sailing this year so I learned a lot. Samuel taught me how to tie a reef knot. I also learned a lot to improve my sailing from watching all the other opti sailors. I learned about currents and how I did not like them because when you’re trying to round the mark, the current was pushing my boat backwards! It felt amazing representing Alberta because I was proud to be the only girl representing our province.”

The ASA couldn’t be prouder of our youngest athletes. Braedyn Denney, ASA Provincial Coach, and Chaz Peddlesden, Calgary Yacht Club Coach, accompanied the team and expressed that the amount of learning happening for these young sailors as each day of the regatta passed was substantial, witnessing the sailors grow as athletes right in front of their eyes. The most memorable learning moments as a team was collectively getting Black Flag Disqualified with 9 other competitors, discovering just what a Black Flag means. In most instances, this would be a discouraging experience. But for our Opti athletes, they shared this was a huge learning moment for the team that they won’t soon forget.

Congratulations to our Opti sailors and we look forward to watching you continue to grow in the sailing community!

If you are an Albertan sailor or Club, we want to hear from you, share your photos, stories, and updates regarding what’s going on at your Club. Please reach out to communications@albertasailing.com!