I started sailing about 20 years ago when my father purchases a very old I420 that had been sitting in a basement for years. By the time I was 13, I was actively racing dinghies in Sea Cadets and keelboats at the Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club. It was around this time when my family bought a fixer-upper S&S design keelboat that I started to learn about boat repair; a skill set that would further help turn my passion into a career. I started coaching at 16, eventually becoming the head coach for the RNYC. Even when coaching, I continued to race in the laser, and C420 classes, as well on a variety of PHRF boats including some in offshore racing. I always consider myself very lucky for having grown up sailing in Conception Bay. The sailing community is small there and everyone is like family. There are so many coves, towns, islands, harbours and bays to explore. The scenery is breathtaking and the wildlife is incredible.
From a young age, I knew I wanted to turn my passion for sailing into a career. Once I graduated as a Naval Architect, I moved to the U.S. and started my design career in high performance cruising catamarans. During sea-trials and deliveries, I gained a lot of big-boat experience and learned how to properly manage highly loaded rigs while racking up offshore miles. To offset the big-boat sailing I started racing A-class catamarans. As a designer and sailor, the open design of this class fascinated me. Regattas were not just a place for competition, but a place to learn about the hull, rig and sail design, rigging methods and, of course, foiling. In terms of making sailing a life-long sport, sailing in this class checks the box. Exposure to modern materials and building techniques, coupled with the education, gave great insight on several different designs and mods for my own projects and those of friends. Not all projects, however, are of glamours sailing yachts and exotic materials. Commercial, non-sail designs dominate the project board and offer a whole other level of complexity that sailing cannot solve; except when used to clear one’s mind or trigger an epiphany.
Over the past two years, I have enjoyed reconnecting with the Nova Scotia sailing community, meeting new sailors, and racing in different fleets and clubs. Last season, I got my feet wet again (literally) coaching the new Learn to Race program on J24’s offered at Bedford Basin Yacht Club. I also help the community out with boat repairs and volunteering at youth regattas. I have found there is a fun assortment of sailing in this province – everything from foiling carbon boats to 100+-year-old classics.
I thoroughly enjoy racing different boats, formats (one design, open, offshore, match and team racing), and venues. The diversity is great for continuous learning and improving overall sailing skills. During the off-season, I find kiteboarding and surfing not just a lot of fun, but a great way to keep in shape while improving my ability to assess wind and wave conditions.
by: Simon Rees
Bedford Basin Yacht Club