Marg Phelan

Marg Phelan

Keelboats to ply Sylvan Lake

Every Wednesday the rainbow of keelboat sails can be seen on Sylvan Lake near Marina Bay.

Every Wednesday the rainbow of keelboat sails can be seen on Sylvan Lake near Marina Bay.

But as the summer days grow nearer to August, something more is afoot on the prairie lake.

Four teams with the Sylvan Lake Sailing Club are preparing for the 2012 Canadian Yachting Association Women’s National Keelboat Championship, which will be held Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 — the first time such an event has been hosted by a prairie province.

About seven club members on a planning committee have been organizing the event since last August, after it was announced that their bid to host the race beat out Kelowna and Victoria.

“After spending a lot of time on this through the winter we are getting to the crunch and the excitement level is really starting to ramp up and I suspect by August it will be wild,” race management committee member Rick Howard said.

Fourteen teams made up of four women sailors across Canada will converge on Sylvan Lake to compete on identical sailboat fleets known as Martin 242s — a one-design, 7.3 metres (24-feet), high-performance racing boat that can reach speeds of 33 km/h, depending on wind conditions.

Howard said Sylvan Lake caught the Canadian Yachting Association’s proverbial eye after the club expanded to a point where it was able to supply the 14 sailboats required for a proposal.

“I am thrilled, I am so excited,” said Norma Turner, 56, who is on one of the four local teams competing.

“We talked about it for years, bringing this to Sylvan, and to be able to have the opportunity to host is very exciting for us.” Turner became involved in sailboat racing 15 years ago after joining the Sylvan Lake Sailing Club.

“I watched the boats and I used to wish I was out there,” she said.

“So I made some inquires and found out that I could jump on board with some people and learn how to sail. I loved it right from the very beginning.”

“The reason that we have women’s Canadian nationals is to encourage more women to sail. It does tend to be a bit of a male dominated sport but I think the take away from this is that people see this is a sport for women and they can have fun.”

The Sylvan Lake Sailing Club started in 1984. For details about the 2012 CYA Women’s National Keelboat Championship visit www.sylvansailing.ca.

jjones@bprda.wpengine.com

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