Dads: Where it all begins

Published on June 13th, 2018

In August the Canadian Sailing Hall of Fame will welcome the Class of 2018 Inductees, among them being Don Green, 85, of Hamilton, Ontario. To celebrate Father’s Day on June 17, daughter and noted photographer Sharon Green shares this tribute to her pops.

My father is best known as winner of the 1978 Canada’s Cup in his custom C&C Evergreen, later skippering Evergreen safely and successfully during the devastating 1979 Fastnet Race.

Don Green

A challenger for the America’s Cup, frequently campaigning in the SORC and other major yachting events, he continues to be an active member of Royal Hamilton Yacht Club (RHYC), where he’s a Staff Commodore and has served as Honorary Chair of the Mobility Cup regatta for sailors with disabilities.

While everyone else knows him as this all-around great sailor and benefactor, I know him as the guy who first inspired my love and appreciation of sailing.

As a kid, my Dad would regale us with stories of the year and a half he spent circumnavigating the globe on the brigantine Yankee with Irving and Exy Johnson. He had been just a young man then, and we imagined ourselves in his place, as he shared these exciting stories, film and pictures of exotic faraway places. I was sold!

By the time I was seven I was driving our 21-foot Bluenose sloop Yellowbird on family trips, spending my summers at sailing camp, and doing junior sailing at RHYC. When my Dad got another boat, the C&C 35 Motivation, my brother, me and our friends coaxed him to let us crew for him in the races.

Although my dad was always an adventurer, the racing bug bit him hard! We started doing weeknight beercans in Motivation and distance races and overnighters on the weekends. So much of my passion, knowledge, and experience stems from those blissful days of sailing with my family.

And then came the Canada’s Cup. When Dad built and campaigned Evergreen in 1978, I found myself surrounded by the greatest sailors of the time. They were all inspiring, but it was Lowell North – Olympic gold medalist and founder of North Sails – who helped me launch my career.

In those days, sail designers would use photos to study wind flow, optimal shape, and design. His suggestion, that I take photos for them to study, is where I got my start, ultimately generating my first photo placement in The Toronto Star! And then, again following in my Dad’s footsteps, I became an entrepreneur, launching the Ultimate Sailing Calendar in 1983.

Over the years my Dad has continued to volunteer with RHYC and to sail: doing some cruising in the Caribbean, racing with my brother, Stephen, and around the lake with my godfather, Uncle Bo (John Bobyk). And he continues to inspire me.

They say, ‘any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a Dad’ and that is so true. Congrats to my Dad, Don Green, on this richly-deserved recognition, and Happy Father’s Day!

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