Sailing Starts Summer, Looks Back at Nationals Experience

UBC Thunderbirds Sailing Sport Club has gone on break for the summer, with many of its sailors heading to their hometowns to continue training and studying for the upcoming fall season. The team is taking a well-deserved break after an unprecedented season, including 2nd at CICSA fleet racing nationals in the fall, a win at the EDHEC Sailing Cup in France, and UBC’s third straight trip to College Sailing Coed Nationals, as well as numerous other podium finishes in local conference regattas. This season has been one of growth for the team, with ten first year rookies joining the team, but also one that saw some core team members graduate. As a new season of challenges and opportunities approaches, the team is well placed to have experienced team members guide our young talent to success.


UBC TSC Sailing team members celebrate after securing second place at CICSA Fleet Racing Nationals

CICSA Fleet Racing Nationals take place every fall semester, with UBC attending each year. UBC repeated their 2nd place national finish from 2015 this year in 2016, holding off stiff competition from McMaster University and local team Queen’s University Sailing as well as giving eventual champions McGill University a run for their money. The team of Hanno Kite-Powell, Greg Woollgar, Stephanie Stearman, Georg Lauritsen, and Elmeri Hakkinen gave fierce competition through light and strong breeze to show that UBC is right in the mix of Canadian collegiate sailing. CICSA Nationals are a point of pride for UBC, showing that the team is still a dominant force in collegiate sailing despite the relative isolation of the west coast.

Belle-Burns, Cadieux-Johnson, Goguen, and Minielly pose for a photo after winning their fleet

UBC TSC Sailing also competed at the EDHEC Sailing Cup in Arzon, France this April. The team of Ashley-Belle Burns,Jonah Cadiuex-Johnson, Richard Minielly, and Matt Goguen won first place in the new J70 fleet. This was UBC’s first time competing in the annual regatta, which will turn 50 in 2018, as the competition usually conflicts with exams. However, UBC made a strong showing for the university and for Canada, joining HEC Montreal and Montréal Polytechnique in representing the Great White North. This regatta was one of the first steps in starting up a keelboat programme within the UBC Sailing Team, something that will be continued when UBC hosts NWICSA Match Racing Championships this fall. Cadieux-Johnson, Goguen, and Minielly are returning to UBC in the fall and hope to continue what they started in France.



UBC TSC Sailing competed at its third straight College Sailing National Championship in Charleston, South Carolina May 30-June 2. After two days of intensely close competition against top sailors including multiple time All-Americans, national champions, and Olympic-level athletes, UBC finished 17th in the Eastern Semifinal pool. While this result was slightly under the goals of the participating athletes, the moments of brilliance show the potential of UBC in the coming years. Seniors Hanno Kite-Powell and Steph Stearman led the fleet to the first mark in one of their races, finishing a highly respectable 6th place in what was a hugely competitive fleet that race. Rookie Richard Minielly experienced his first national event, following the wisdom of two-time nationals veteran, senior Greg Woollgar. Minielly hopes his experience this year will help other teammates in following years, while Kite-Powell, Woollgar, and Stearman will stay in contact with the team, providing advice, experienced guidance, and travel housing as they move on the bigger and better things.


Kite-Powell, Minielly, Stearman, and Woolgar pose under the USS Yorktown at Gill Coed National Championships in Charleston, SC


In local NWICSA regattas this semester, UBC TSC Sailing was a powerful force to be reckoned with at times, and at others a team of promising prospect development. UBC won the Frosh-Soph Regatta hosted by Western Washington University, with the team of Janie Velghe, George Lauritsen, Molly Voltz, Laura Stewart, and Richard Minielly proving they had what it took in heavy wind at the development regatta.

The team also managed to secure victory and 5th at the Western Canada Cup, hosted by the University of Victoria. With heavy wind stopping competition on the second day, UVic put on a spectacular one day regatta of tricky racing in shifty conditions, getting 16 races off between the two fleets. There was also learning to be done at some regattas, as UBC put forth a novice fleet of three freshmen and one senior at UC Berkeley’s Stoney Burke Regatta in October, and had midfleet showings at Cascadia Cup, Women’s Chamionships, and UBC’s Sea to Sky regatta. These regattas were excellent learning experiences for all of those who participated and will help UBC to become a deeper team in the future.


After a year of huge growth and achievement, UBC Thunderbirds Sailing Sport Club now looks to the summer and the racing seasons ahead. Through the summer, many of UBC’s sailors will be teaching new sailors and racing at their home clubs, from locally in Vancouver as far as New York, New England, and Denmark. In the fall, UBC looks forward to a very high calibre set of new recruits (more info coming when tryouts begin), hosting the NWICSA Match Racing Championships, the beginnings of a keelboat team, and of course continued success in local and continental dinghy fleet racing. The team hopes that its base of supporters continues to build as alumni and parent bases grow each year. To follow UBC’s sailors as they better themselves as sailors throughout the summer, be sure to follow the team on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.



Article Written by Richard Minielly