Whistler Sailing Association eager to kick off season 

GO Fest marks transition into summer sports

click to flip through (2) PHOTO BY CLINT TRAHAN. COURTESY OF THE WHISTLER SAILING ASSOCIATION - COME SAIL AWAY The Whistler Sailing Association is hosting clinics and a race as part of its GO Fest schedule this weekend.
  • Photo by Clint Trahan. Courtesy of the Whistler Sailing Association
  • COME SAIL AWAY The Whistler Sailing Association is hosting clinics and a race as part of its GO Fest schedule this weekend.

The May long weekend is the gateway to the summer season, and a handful of local clubs are marking the occasion.

Through the Great Outdoors Festival (GO Fest), local organizations are offering programming this weekend to help foster a family-friendly and active atmosphere.

One is the Whistler Sailing Association (WSA), which will host clinics this Saturday and Sunday (May 19 and 20) from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Registration at 5678 Alta Lake Rd. takes place starting at 10 a.m. and the clinics cost $50. There will also be a race in the afternoon, with the first of four heats set to go at 2:30 p.m. The cost to compete is $30 per person. The WSA's programs this weekend are for those 16 and older.

"It's really catered towards beginners. It's for people who are just starting and wanting to get a taste of what sailing small boats is about," WSA head coach Francois Hebert said.

Pre-registration for both options is recommended and available at whistlersailing.com.

Hebert noted while the WSA's Wednesday night races kicked off on May 16, GO Fest marks a leap into its campaign.

"For us, it coincides really well with the kickoff to our season. It's essentially our opening event for the year and makes it a great way to start," he said. "It brings some new people, as well, to the sport."

Hebert said he expects a minimum of 30 people to come out this weekend, but hopes for more.

"We hit close to 50 last year, but so far, we haven't had huge registration numbers. But with the change in the nice weather, hopefully it picks up a bit," he said.

In general, the season outlook is positive, as Hebert noted summer camp numbers are outpacing last year's and the club is on track to upgrade two boats in its fleet.

"They'll be very similar boats. We're just trying to get rid of some of the older boats that are a little bit of a maintenance burden," Hebert explained.

Acquiring new vessels continues the rejuvenation for the club, which unveiled a new dock system last year.

"We more than doubled our dock space available," Hebert said. "We don't have that much space on land to keep boats, so it's expanded a lot of our capabilities for our boats.

"The main benefit is actually just how user friendly it is to use our boats and sail. Our boats are sitting on the dock and all you have to do is push it into the water and you're off sailing. You don't have to move your boat around with a little trailer and launch it at a slippery boat ramp."

Among the events on the calendar for the club later this summer includes an open house in June on an as-yet undetermined date. The club's annual BC Circuit regatta event, meanwhile, is set for Aug. 4 and 5.


Another recreation option comes on Saturday from Parkrun Whistler.

The five-kilometre run through the Lost Lake Trails is a Saturday morning summer staple after its debut last year, and organizer Travis McMaster hopes to see the club grow in its sophomore year.

Parkrun started in the United Kingdom in 2004 and now operates in 19 countries, encouraging people to come for a run in a supportive, non-competitive environment. There is no cost to participate.

"It's open to anybody and everyone. You can run, walk, walk your dog, bring your kids," McMaster said.

Attendance varies, McMaster explained, with only a handful showing up some times while at other times 70 people will come out. On average, though, 20 to 30 tend to attend.

Events always start and end at the Passivhaus on Saturdays at 9 a.m., though participants are encouraged to arrive by 8:50 a.m. to confirm the route.

"The course is the same. All Parkruns worldwide are a 5K route. It's the same route around Lost Lake," he said. "We run out in a clockwise direction around the lake, past the beach and then back to Passivhaus and finish there."

McMaster noted the local chapter is run entirely by volunteers, and with his second child on the way and his former co-organizer having returned to Australia, he hopes to see a few extra helpers out this year. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact whistlerhelpers@parkrun.com.

"I'm always trying to recruit more volunteers," he said. "All the events are all volunteer supported."

Other GO Fest athletic events include yoga, road cycling, stand-up paddleboarding and ping pong. For more information, visit www.greatoutdoorsfest.com.



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