During three perfect summer days, about 35 boats and 50 sailors raced for gold, silver and bronze at Ashbridge’s Bay Yacht Club in the Ontario Summer Games, held August 17-19 . The sailors, in the 13-17 year old age group, qualified for the Games through a series of events across the province, with the final qualifier held in Sarnia.
16-year old Alexandra Damley-Strnad from Port Credit Yacht Club enjoyed her weekend of racing immensely. She was especially happy about pulling off three ‘bullets’ (first-place finishes) and two seconds in Saturday’s race. Damley-Strnad ended up placing third overall in the female division.
The Ontario Summer Games are held every two years and are billed as a showcase for amateur sport.
The Chair of the Summer Games, Rahul Bhardwaj, said “as a member of ABYC, I was particularly pleased to hear the comments from the sailors and their parents about their positive experience at the Games sailing venue – ABYC. The weather and sailing were great, as was the welcome at the club.”
The Games brought together 2,700 young athletes in 28 sporting venues across the GTA and St. Catharines.
Cathyann White, an avid racer herself, was part of the organizing committee for the sailing event and one of about 1,400 volunteers who worked on the Games. She was impressed by the dedication shown by all the volunteers, and thought ABYC ran an amazing event.
“For me a highlight was seeing a young man giving it his all, sailing in 25-30 knot winds,” said White. “These sailors may go on to compete in the Canada Games, the Pan Am Games, maybe even the Olympics, but if this is the only competition they go to, they will have had an amazing experience.”
She said she hoped that the passion she saw on the water would stay with them for the rest of their lives.
The Sailing event ended on Sunday with the medal presentations. On hand to recognize the racers were Dave Steenbergen, ABYC Organizing Committee Chair, Glenn Lethbridge, Executive Director of Ontario Sailing, Paul Brennan, Rear Commodore for ABYC, former Commodore Jim Allen, Rebecca Crumlish (a winner of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at previous Summer Games), National judge Wendy Loat and International judge Robert Stewart.
Ryan Smith and Evan DePaul from Hamilton Yacht Club won gold in the 420 Open division. Dayna Hellmann from Bronte Harbour Yacht club won Gold in the Laser Radial-female division, and Robert Lalonde from Frenchmans Bay Yacht Club won gold in Laser Radial-male.
For many of the racers and their families there was a long drive ahead of them. Behind them were a perfect weekend, new friendships and sailing skills honed in the Ontario Summer Games 2012 at Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club.