Canada Rolex Sailor of the Year to form offshore race team

Published on February 9th, 2015

The 2014 Sail Canada Rolex Sailor of the Year, Eric Holden, will be forming a premier offshore racing team, Canadian Ocean Racing, to campaign in the IMOCA Ocean Masters races, ultimately leading to the Vendée Globe. Holden will be taking the Open 60 ‘O Canada’ and putting her back on the racing circuit.

Holden had led his crew to victory in the 40,000 mile Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2013-14. With a degree in meteorology and experience serving notable teams such as the Canadian Olympic Sailing Team, Holden leveraged his expertise in weather as a strategic advantage throughout the race.

“As the first Canadian Skipper of the Clipper Round the World Race, it was a great honor to have won the race. But the most powerful achievement was taking a crew of 55 individuals with little to no sailing experience and turning them into a cohesive and winning team,” said Holden.

Holden, along with his past and future crew mate Morgen Watson, were honored at the Sail Canada Awards for Rolex Sailor of the Year and the Gerry Roufs trophy, respectively. Watson will accompany Holden to Vancouver for O Canada’s refit and Launch Tour to East Coast Canada by Summer 2015, where they will then officially begin training.

“Morgen is a young, aspiring offshore racer. While he may have began his sailing career a little later in life than most, he showed great skill, development and leadership when on the Clipper Race. It is for those reasons that I chose him as one of my watch leaders on the race and have decided to mentor him and build Canadian Ocean Racing together,” said Holden.

Holden’s racing career started long before the Clipper Round the World Race, but the win was really the culmination of his skill as an offshore racer and skipper. It is from the Clipper Race success that Holden confidently moves forward with his own ocean racing initiative.

“As the Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Yacht Race winner, his performance was outstanding. I am also delighted to hear of Eric’s plans to join up with his Clipper Race crew members Morgen Watson and Meg Reilly to launch a Canadian Ocean Racing team, and I wish them every future success together,” said Sir Robin Knox Johnston, founder of the Clipper Round the World Race.

Officially, Canadian Ocean Racing’s program will begin with a Launch Tour in April 2015, sailing from West to East Coast Canada with events in select ports — all culminating at the Toronto Pan Am games in July 2015. The Team intends to take on its first Ocean Masters race challenge with the Transat Jacques Vabre in November 2015. Canadian Ocean Racing will be supporting Holden in his 2016 Vendée Globe campaign, making Holden just the fourth Canadian in history to enter this world-renowned, solo offshore racing competition.

Canadian Ocean Racing will be assisted by Wind Athletes Canada and Sail Canada to promote the sport of offshore racing and offer opportunities for aspiring ocean racers. Canadian private donors who support the Team’s mission can submit tax-deductible contributions through Wind Athletes Canada. Corporate entities interested in partnering with Canadian Ocean Racing can contact or visit for more details.

“Sail Canada is thrilled that Eric Holden and his team are launching the ‘O Canada’ Canadian Offshore campaign this summer. Eric had a very successful year with the Clipper Round the World Race, garnering so much positive attention to offshore racing in Canada. The O Canada campaign is a perfect fit for Eric and his crew and we are thrilled to be a part of their journey,” said Colleen Coderre of Sail Canada.

“We are delighted to be involved with Eric’s Offshore program. I competed against Eric in the Tornado Class many years ago. It was clear even then that he was destined for great things. Eric brings a unique skill set to his role. Not only is he a fabulous sailor with great feel for the boat but he is a highly trained and sought after meteorologist. This combination of skills is what truly sets him apart from the vast majority of short-handed offshore sailors,” said John Curtis of Wind Athletes Canada.

IMOCA Ocean Masters

In 2014, the International Monohull Open Classes Association (IMOCA) World Championship has been rechristened the Ocean Masters World Championship. This new name reflects the desire to internationalize and further develop the circuit – a circuit already recognized as the world’s foremost for shorthanded offshore racing.

This newly branded series is based on a number of world famous oceanic races: the Vendée Globe, Barcelona World Race, Route du Rhum, Transat Jacques Vabre, Rolex Fastnet Race, in double-handed or solo competitions.

Photo: Rolex Sailor of the Year Eric Holden (right) and his Canadian Ocean Racing co-founder Morgen Watson at the Sail Canada Awards on February 6, 2015.

Source: Meg Reilly, Clipper Ventures

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