My name is Will Bonin and I’m the skipper the 29er teaming with my brother Sam Bonin. We recently represented Canada at the 2017 Youth Worlds in Sanya, China, placing 15th out of 30 in the male fleet. Youth Worlds is the top level youth regatta known for its high calibre competition and Olympic atmosphere. Similar to the Olympics, the sailors live in an athletes’ village where there is only one representative per country per class.
This year’s Canadian team boarded the long-haul flight to Sanya, China. Shortly after we landed, we were greeted with warm tropical weather and friendly hospitality. A completely different culture awaited us. What stood out was how the food and language were so different but we quickly adapted to the time zone difference as well as took in everything that the Chinese culture has to offer, leaving our Canadian lifestyles behind.
I had some of my most memorable sailing memories at Youth Worlds. Once we arrived at the yacht club, Sam and I were swarmed with locals who had never met a Canadian before. We enjoyed taking photos with them and did our best to communicate with them using sign language and translation technology. My favorite moment of the entire event was signing autographs for young Sanya sailors. It was very humbling and exciting at the same time.
At the opening ceremonies, we paraded as a team proudly wearing as much Canada gear as we could. Later that night, we were happy to give other countries a taste of Canadian culture as we sang The Hockey Song on stage. We chanted Canadian songs and smiled all night long. None of us could contain our excitement knowing that the championship started the next day. We were all very anxious to get sailing. Nevertheless, the opening ceremonies signified that the trip had only just begun.
We approached the event with lots of confidence knowing that we had prepared as much as we could leading up to the event. Sanya’s light winds and tricky conditions allowed us to test everything that we had learnt in the 29er from our strong boat speed and smart tactical decisions. Throughout the competition, it was special to stand amongst the top youth sailors from around the world and faceoff against the best of the best.
We were so proud to have the Canadian flag on our sails. We felt a high degree of responsibility and but also felt privileged to be representing Canada at Youth Worlds. We felt a tremendous amount of support from so many people back in Canada and at home which gave us the strength to overcome all obstacles. Our coaches (Agustin Ferrario, Lauren Laventure and Chris Hewson) provided us with the support needed to come up with the best results but also made sure we enjoyed this most memorable experience.
As we move forward in our sailing careers, we will always be proud to say that we finished the best Canada has ever done in the 29er at a Youth Worlds and we will always remember this unforgettable experience. Thank you to Sail Canada, our coaches, World Sailing, the Royal Canadian Yacht Club and all of you who have and continue to support us from bringing one of our biggest dream to reality.