Sailing team will represent Canada at world championship
A crew of seven Dalhousie sailors will leave the familiar waters of Halifax’s Northwest Arm later this month to set sail in France, representing not just their school but their country.
“It’s a pretty sweet handle to say, yeah, we’re going to the world championships,” said fourth-year Justin Hall, smiling at the thought.
The demeanour of Hall and his teammates was unmistakably light aboard their yacht as they prepared for an evening practice last week. The team culture, though, will become more urgent as the calendar nears to Oct. 21-28 when the 2011 Student Yachting World Cup takes place in La Trinite-sur-Mer.
The Dalhousie Sailing Club qualified for the 31st world championship in May after defeating the University of Guelph at a national qualifying regatta in Oakville, Ont.
Although it is Dal’s first ever representation on collegiate sailing’s international stage, team captain Ted Murphy didn’t shy away from making a grand proclamation.
“I’m pretty psyched. I think we can win this thing, but I might be a little cocky,” said Murphy, laughing.
A more attainable goal for Dal is to finish better than Queen’s University, the only other school to represent Canada at the World Cup—in 2007 and 2010. The Ontario school’s best result, and ultimately the country’s too, was finishing sixth out of 16 teams in their latter appearance.
Hall left speculation duties to the team captain.
“Ted’s very confident. He wants the World Championship. I think everyone deep down certainly wants it, and actually probably not deep down,” said Hall. “We don’t really know our competition. They’re the best in the world and we’re up there with them. We’re going to see how things work out.”
Dal will actually have two consecutive chances at beating the Canadian record as they are also in the field for the 2012 worlds. The Tigers qualified for the event in mid-September in Halifax, defeating McMaster University at the Canadian University Keelboat Championships.
After qualifying for two straight berths to challenge the world’s best in a matter of months, it’s a wonder Dal has not earned a spot in the event before.
“What happens is, if you have a really strong team then maybe the other universities aren’t going to compete because they know they aren’t going to win. It’s a financial commitment,” said Murphy. “It’s a big organizational thing to do one of these regattas. And the Canadian university scene is a little newer than the American collegiate sailing scene, which is really well-developed.”
Students representing Dalhousie at the 2011 Student Yachting World Cup are Murphy, Hall, David Castle, Hugh Goodday, Valerie Keast, Catherine Richards and Jacob Chaplin-Saunders.
Dal’s seven-person crew has more to worry about than just the 15 schools they will compete against at the World Cup, however, as money is another concern.
Murphy estimates it will cost an estimated total of $25,000 or $15,000 on a “shoestring budget.” Expenses include plane tickets, hotel accommodations, boat rentals, food and a damage deposit.
With little sponsorship and minimal funds from the university, Hall concedes the cost for the team will largely be a personal one.
“Right now we’re paying for a majority of it out of our own pockets, so basically we’re looking for every opportunity to save some money. We’re all students.”
Dal will fly out on Oct. 19 for the week-long series of races awaiting them on the other side of the Atlantic.
“We enjoy sailing. It’s fun. Plus, we get to go to France,” said Murphy, grinning.