Sail Canada: Bringing sailing back

Published on January 4th, 2023

The Northern Hemisphere winter offers the opportunity to pause and reflect on the passing of one year and beginning of the next. Sail Canada, the national governing body for the sport of sailing, offers this message from Hugh McGugan, Sail Canada Chair of the Board of Directors, and Sail Canada Chief Executive Officer Don Adams:


Over the last year, it has been great to finally get back to a “more familiar” year of sailing in 2022. Whether you have been heading out more regularly for day sails, getting your crew back together for club racing, learning to foil, competing in regional and international regattas, or even watching Canada’s SailGP team competing at the amazing SailGP events, I think we were all excited to be part of this “explosion of sailing” in 2022!

In 2023, one of our key initiatives for our future will be the meaningful implementation of “Safe Sport” practices throughout sailing in Canada. As we finalize joining Sport Canada’s Abuse-Free Sport initiative, we all need to be on board with putting in place the key processes that will ensure sailing in Canada remains a safe, as well as an inclusive, diverse and equitable sport to participate in.

Sail Canada is working with the Provincial Sail Associations and, through them, our member clubs, to harmonize Safe Sport Policies in order to prevent and deal effectively with any maltreatment in the sport of sailing.

Sail GP

Sail Canada’s Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (IDE) Committee has developed an all-encompassing Action Plan for Sailing that is framed around four pillars: Accountability, Education, Supportive Networks, and Programming. Each pillar focuses on specific aspects of Sail Canada and strives to achieve a different outcome and set of goals.

Certain action items are cultural changes – for example, developing programming at the grassroots level – that provides equal opportunities for all participants and requires input and agreement from all levels of governance: National, Provincial, Club, and Community Organizations.

Volunteers on the IDE committee have devoted hours to developing this plan, and the engagement and feedback from the entire community for this Action Plan is crucial to making sure sailing is moving forward.

Continuing on from 2022, successful fundraising continues to be a key financial objective for Sail Canada in support of our recently launched Sail Canada National Sail Training Centres Atlantic, Central and Pacific.

Just as Sail Canada has a clear vision and strategy to support our performance athletes’ efforts to reach the podium, the Sail Canada National Sail Training Centres will provide World Class Coaching as well as World Class Training Environments and Performance Science for all identified sailors coming through the performance system.

Sail Canada would like to thank the 94 Forward Foundation, which is supporting Sail Canada to improve its high-performance programming at the National Sail Training Centres.

94 Forward is also assisting Sail Canada in our fundraising efforts by providing support to hire fundraising professionals. Our goal is to raise $500,000 per National Sail Training Centre (for a total of $1.5 million) per year to support coaches, coach development, training camps and athletes that have been identified to have the required potential for 2028 and 2032.

The performances by the Sail Canada Team over the past year are the result of all the new and ongoing efforts Sail Canada has been undertaking in high performance programming with training camps, talent identification, coach development, and the alignment of performance pathways at all levels, which help to improve athlete preparation in order to reach our goal of achieving top 10 finishes at major events.

Notable results from 2022 include a gold medal for Sarah Douglas at the ILCA 6 World Sailing Hempel World Cup held at the Princess Sofia Trophy competition in April, as well as a bronze medal for Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance at the Kiel Week event in June. On the youth side, Annalise Balasubramanian came up with Canada’s top performance in ILCA 6 since 2009 at the 2022 Youth Sailing World Championships with a 12th-place finish in The Hague, Netherlands.

Another major initiative that has been undertaken this past year is the review of the Long-Term Development in Sailing Framework. This tool, once reviewed, will be a guide for instructors, coaches, and officials and will provide guidance for parents and sailors who want to know how to sail competitively or who just want to take up sailing for fun.

The pathway to Learn to Sail, Learn to Race, or Learn to Cruise will be outlined clearly under one intentional brand.

Major initiatives like these need resources and Sail Canada is pleased to have, thank and welcome aboard new partners 94 Forward, Devoti Sailing, YETI, and Allen Brothers Hardware.

We would also like to extend a big thank you to all our existing funding Partners, as well as to the Government of Canada (Sport Canada), the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Olympic Foundation, and the Coaching Association of Canada, in addition to our sponsors Rolex, Helly Hansen, Gallagher, and BMO.

We would like to thank staff members and volunteers at Sail Canada and our partner organizations, all the way through to our member clubs and to individual Canadian sailors, for understanding the importance of bringing sailing back into our lives and “reawakening” participation in Canadian sailing over the past year.

Lastly, please remember that “we are all Sail Canada” and, with that in mind, we would like to offer our thanks and congratulations to everyone involved with sailing in Canada for all of your collective efforts, support, and contributions that help to positively grow our sport across the country!

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