Whistler sailors make strong showing at home regatta 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ADAM TABER - HANGING OUT Sailors in the competitve 420 class hike over the side of the boat at the Whistler Sailing Regatta this past weekend.
  • Photo by Adam Taber
  • HANGING OUT Sailors in the competitve 420 class hike over the side of the boat at the Whistler Sailing Regatta this past weekend.

A lack of racing experience didn't stop young members of the Whistler Sailing Club from posting strong results at the Whistler Sailing Regatta this past weekend, a BC Series event that drew young sailors from across the province.

"It went really well actually, it was a fantastic event," said head coach Francois Herbert. "We had amazing wind conditions the whole weekend and a great regatta."

In the Laser Radial Class, Ren Bennett placed seventh overall with 56 points, placing fourth in the opening race and racing consistently.

In sailing, rankings count as points and a boat that finishes first in five races would finish with five points, while a boat finishing third in five races would score a 15.

"That was a pretty strong finish for him, it was his first regatta in this type of boat and he did really well," said Hebert.

There were two other Bennett brothers in the event, with Neo and Leo placing eighth and ninth overall in the large Optimist Class.

At that age the competitors race together, but in the Blue category for their specific age group the brothers placed fourth and fifth respectively, with Neo missing the bronze medal by just two points. Neo also finished third in one of his 10 races.

Severin Nelsen placed 16th in Optimist in only his second race, finishing in the top 10 twice.

Nicola McDonald was 18th overall, but did not race on the second day due to illness.

Hebert said the next race for most of the younger athletes, plus adult members of the club, is the annual club championship in September. All of the ages and classes will race together.

"That's the fun thing about sailing, age doesn't matter too much and you can go out there and have a good time."

The club's summer is busy with camps, including learn-to-sail programs for kids and adults, and Hebert says the club's new home at The Point Artist-Run Centre is working out well as a home base. While it's not perfect — the club would like its own dock, a more permanent boat launch and somewhere to store tools and work on boats — Hebert says the access to the water is actually better than a lot of other clubs.

"We cooperate with the artists here and have a very good relationship," he said. "We had our regatta dinner in the old hostel on Saturday night and have been able to use it for special events, which is really nice, and it's really nice, really easy access to the water for us. It's so convenient to have your boat 20 feet from the water."

Hebert says the club's long-term plans are coming together, but they're pleased with how the club is developing.

"It's working, and there's lots of interest and a lot of people sailing, which shows that there is a demand for this, and we just think it's a great thing for the community to have this kind of access to the water and boats. Things are good."

Complete results from the regatta, as well as information about club programs, races and camps, can be found at www.whistlersailing.com.

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