When Mike was young he took sailing lessons at the Bronte Yacht Club in Albacores and high-performance Fireballs. Along with that Mike also had the advantage of having command of his own Bombardier 3.8 before the age of 10.
Having served in the Royal Canadian Airforce as a pilot, Mike has been able to transfer his skill set from flying to sailing. The theory of flying and sailing are similar but Mike’s expertise as a pilot allows him further insight to aerodynamics of sails and wings. “They both depend on airflows and a sailboat has sails that must be handled correctly just like the wing controls of an aircraft. Having an aviation background definitely gains insight into things like what sail shape will work best and turn that into speed.” Another similarity to flying that benefits Mike is that both are airplanes and sailboats are operated by small crews to either complete a mission or sail a race. Proper crew chemistry is an important ingredient for success.
Jumping ahead to 2012 Mike started racing with fellow Nova Scotia sailor Matt Stokes in Korea. That year they represented Canada at the Korea Cup while working with the Korean Sailing Federation. This was the start of a domino effect that led to Mike participating in the Yellow Sea Race and in 2018 China Cup in Hong Kong and Phuket Cup. This month Mike is headed to participate in Macao Race Week. Though English is predominate among Asian cultures, communication onboard can sometimes be challenging and the racing rules can sometimes be “open to interpretation’.
Mike is very impressed by the Chinese government’s commitment to the growth of sailing and have successfully entered teams into the Volvo Ocean Race, Sydney-Hobart and China Cup and may soon be entering the 2021 America’s Cup.
As a measure to keep the crew together in the winter, Mike and his mates go curling in place of weekly club racing and go on ski weekends in place of regattas. It’s a lot of fun and great way to keep in shape for the upcoming sailing season.
by: Rob Dunbar Halifaxsailor@yahoo.ca