1. Introduce yourself
My name is Todd Irving and I live in Toronto, Ontario and grew up sailing at the Oakville Yacht Squadron and the Royal Canadian Yacht Club.
2. Where are you located?
I live in Leaside and work for Bell Canada in Mississauga.
3. What do you do to contribute to Sail Canada?
My involvement in Sail Canada has been to improve the brand, strengthen the products and services and bring a true nationally repeatable system to developing sailors in the country. This system would also help achieve international high performance success (including Olympic medals) through measurable development.
4. How did you get into the sailing world? How long have you been sailing?
I began sailing at age 14 at OYS as something to try in the summer given that a number of my friends were also sailing. I have not stopped since. I became an instructor, instructor evaluator (LF) and eventually an advanced cruising & powerboat instructor. This allowed me to have opportunities to teach in Ontario, Trinidad, Bermuda, Florida, and the British Virgin Islands. I also raced dinghies and keelboats over this time and competed in everything from the Laser II worlds to Fitted Dinghies in Bermuda to the Gold Cup match racing event there.
5. Do you sail often? If so, what kind of boat do you sail?
I have done most of my racing in J/24’s and J/105’s and have raced on many different types of boats along the way. My team were Canadian and Ontario champions and I was the Canadian J/24 class president for a few years.
6. What is a fun fact about you?
As the father of two boys (8 & 11 yrs old), who are just getting into sailing among the other half dozen or so sports they play, I spend most of my free time these days standing in an arena. When I am not doing that I find myself doing some running or cycling. I have completed 4 marathons in the past 10 years and aspire to do a triathlon in the near future.
7. Where is your favourite place in Canada?
I have many favourite places in Canada and it all depends on what I am doing when I am there. I love Toronto because it is where my family is – my community and my home. The mountains and the proximity to water is fantastic in the west. I enjoy skiing and places like Whistler, Big White & Panorama are my happy spots. My family calls Mont Tremblant a second home as we spend time there every winter. Chester in Nova Scotia is one of many magical places in the east that I have been able to spend some time and have fond (& foggy) memories of.
8. What is one of your favourite memories from sailing, being around sailing, funny or inspirational?
So many of my memories and experiences are founded in sailing and the adventures it has provided me. Anyone that has sailed knows the feeling of breaking free of the noise of the city and the confines of land to feel the boat being driven by the wind while the water rushes beneath the hull. That sense of freedom and ability to harness the power of nature is one that is hard to emulate. The personal experience that sums this up best is what used to be the annual pilgrimage across Lake Ontario to go to the Youngstown Level Regatta. Leaving Toronto behind for a 5 hour sail, getting there and connecting with friends, sharing a laugh, a drink and a series of adventures. Then a weekend of racing followed by a tiring but satisfying sail home always provided a sense of completeness in what sailing is about.
9. What made you want to be apart of the Sail Canada organization?
As a product of the system, given that no one else in my family sails I wanted to share this passion with others. I feel like there is so much potential to share the most amazing sport in the world. Sail Canada (CYA) was once a world leader in sailing development and our system was copied by many countries including Germany, Australia and the United States. Somewhere along the way we stopped leading – we stopped developing and evolving. I believe we can get that back. There is no reason that we cannot have the best system of development in the world for numerous pathways to multiple different sailing goals; Olympics, Volvo Ocean Race, America’s Cup, Vendee Globe, or cruising with your family, sailing a boat at a cottage, running a regatta, coaching a world champion… whatever the case, I think we can get there. Canada is a great country and we have the passion and the resources to make sailing better.
10. If you had one piece of advice to give to the sailing community, what would it be?
Sail more! Sail again if has been a while, bring a friend to introduce to the sport, share your passion and get out there because it is truly a sport that is better when more people are engaged.