Sailing Offshore Boat Racing Challenges
Wearing a beautiful ceremonial shawl that incorporates traditional Squamish designs, Rivers invokes the Spirits to give guidance and protection to the young sailors as their boat sets off on their around-the-world journey. On April 11, a crowd of well-wishers joined Eric Holden at a traditional blessing from Squamish elder Audrey Rivers said, “May God save this ship and all who sail on her,” invoking the words of British elder, Queen Elizabeth the Second who has been known to honour a number of ships herself.
Smiling warmly during the ceremony, Holden knows well the challenges of offshore sailing and welcomes all the help he can get, both visible and invisible. Having tasted the sweet joy of being the first Canadian skipper to enter and ultimately win the Clipper Round the World Race, he is looking to recreate the win and inspire fellow Canadian sailors to follow in his footsteps to become the ultimate ocean masters.
“I know first hand the struggles and sacrifices required to build a career in offshore sailing. I started Canadian Ocean Racing to offer better opportunities, mentorship, and access to offshore racing in Canada.”
Five Canadians make up the crew for the 2015 adventure: skipper Eric Holden, Operations manager and crew Morgen Watson, and three Aspiring Offshore Athletes Sandy MacPherson, Liam Johnston, Daniel Dagenais-Gaw. After leaving the North Shore, the crew will sail through the Panama Canal on their way to Toronto, to reach there in time for July 1 Canada Day celebrations, and later the 2015 Pan-Am Games taking place July 10 – 26.
English sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston conceived the Round the World Yacht Race in 1995. In 1969, he became the first person to complete an individual non-stop circumnavigation of the globe. Knox-Johnston, who still sails competitively at the age of 75, chose Holden from 180 applicants to become the race’s first Canadian skipper. “He’s focused and he’s a meteorologist which helps with ocean racing.”
All of his well-honed skills will serve Holden and his crew well. Their ultimate goal is Vendee Globe 2016, called the Everest of the Sea, a grueling voyage that takes sailors around the world via the three Capes.
Meg Reilly, in charge of PR and Partnerships won’t be going on the 2015 voyage, but she has experienced the joy of victory when she joined Holden and his five-person crew in London following the 2013-2014 race. “It was wonderful sailing down the Thames River as thousands of people lined the banks waving flags to welcome the dozen 70-foot yachts. We hope that the experience will inspire other sailors to take up the challenge of ocean racing.”
If you wish to learn more about Canadian Ocean Racing or to donate to the team, visit canadianoceanracing.com.