Harken Derm

How competitive sailing should be

Published on March 12th, 2019

Michael Todd is a contract coach from Canada who often works with a regional team in Texas (GCYSA) as well as many others in Canada. While working with some of the USA sailors at the 2019 Laser Radial Midwinters East (Clearwater, FL), he reflects on what was also the Canadian qualifier for the 2019 Youth World Sailing Championship. Here is his report:


I am still on edge from the performances I witnessed among the male Radial sailors which hail from Canada, and how they give me hope that their generation will maintain the standards for how competitive sailing should be.

Watching sailing is rarely a spectator sport but having the opportunity to observe Ryan Anderson and Tayte Stefaniuk battle around the course over four days was nothing less than watching gladiators clash beneath the fickle crowds of the Colosseum.

Each day, a new leader and each successive day, a new challenge from the underdog, rising up from the ashes and fighting back when all hope was lost. These two certainly made sailing exciting, and while they were not my steeds for this event, it was hard to not take notice of Ryan and Tayte on and off the water.

I have had the privilege of coaching both of these fine athletes in the past and, throughout it all, it wasn’t their hard hiking or fluid down winds that impressed me most.

Often times, these battles can leave competitors bitter, but even with the regatta coming down to the very last part of the very last leg, and a slight error from Tayte giving Ryan the advantage, these two fine young gentlemen came off the water and hugged in congratulations and were truly happy for each other.

It was remarkable display, and a true testament to both their sportsmanship, attitudes towards racing, and how their parents raised them.

In years to come, I may not remember who beat who or how truly close the racing was between the two boys, but I will never forget how proud I was when I saw the character Ryan and Tayte possessed that day. Congrats to both of them on a hard-fought qualifier and I have no doubt that this is only the beginning of a great friendship/rivalry.

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