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Sarah Douglas wins Canadian Rolex Sailor of the Year, Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta

by David Schmidt 10 Mar 09:04 PDT March 10, 2020
Sarah Douglas named the 2019 Rolex Sailor of the Year! © Sailingshot.ca / Luka Bartulovic

While the last few weeks have been tough ones for the news cycle, stock markets, and the myriad people whose lives have been disrupted by the now widely circulating novel coronavirus, it's important to remember that life - and sailing - will go on once this yet-to-be-declared pandemic passes. Moreover, it's also important to remember that plenty of great things are still happening, even as the shadows of ill tidings grow darker and flicker taller.

One great example comes courtesy of our great neighbors to the north, namely the 2019 Canadian Rolex Sailor of the Year Awards, where Sarah Douglas, the Canadian Laser Radial phenom, was named the 2019 Canadian Rolex Sailor of the Year.

If you follow Olympic class racing, Douglas (CAN; 26) should be close to a household name at this point. In 2019, Douglas managed to rack-up a gold medal win at the Pan Am Games and a proud seventh-place finish at the Ready Steady Tokyo Olympic Test event. These fine performances earned Douglas a coveted spot on the starting line of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (July 24 to August 9).

These results also make Douglas the fastest female Laser Radial sailor in North America, and a serious medal contender at the 2020 Games.

"I'm shocked!" said Douglas in an official Sail Canada press release. "I'm not sure how to feel but I am very grateful to receive this award tonight. It definitely motivates me to continue the work that I've done and to push even harder to improve Canadian sailing all around."

Sail-World congratulates Sarah on her proud accomplishment, and we look forward to seeing her results art this summer's Games.

Meanwhile, in the Sunshine State, racing concluded at the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta, which unfurled on the waters off of Miami. Racing took place in Stars, J/70s, Melges 24s, Viper 640s, and VX Ones, as well as Cabrinha AV8s (kite foilers) and Windfoilers.

In the venerable, 66-boat Star class, upon which this famous regatta was founded in 1927, Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Bruno Prada, sailing aboard Savannah (POL 8548), shinned brightest, followed by Augie Diaz and Henry Boening, sailing aboard Danilu (USA 8509), and Eivind Melleby and Joshua Revkin, sailing aboard Survival of the Fastest (NOR 8234).

In the J/70 class, Paul Ward's Eat Sleep J Repeat (GBR 1127) team took top honors, followed by Ryan McKillen's Surge (USA 179) squad and Bruce Golison's Midlife Crisis (USA 26).

Amongst the Melges 24 fleet, the always-fast Bora Gulari and his USA 820 team posted four bullets to take home the top prize, followed by Peter Duncan's Raza Mixta (USA 829) crew and KC Shannon's Shaka (USA 801) squad.

Racing in the 23-strong Viper 640 class was as hot as ever, but this didn't stop Will Graves' USA293 team from delivering a top-notch performance, followed by Geoff and Mary Ewenson's Evil Hiss (USA 297) and Mark Zagol's NESS (USA 158).

The eight-strong VX One class may have been the smallest monohull class in terms of numbers, but Bill Wiggins and his SendIt (USA 160) crew certainly had to sail hard to best their competition, namely Sandra Askew's Flying Jenny (USA 277) crew, who earned a second-place finish, and Ched Proctor's VX1 (USA 187) squad.

Amongst the AV8 kite foilers, Damien LeRoy (Damo; USA 444) was the fastest kite in the south, followed by Brendan Healy (SS Senderson; USA 11) and Kent Marcovich (Sendy; USA 0).

And, in the five-strong Windfoil class, Damian Martinez (Tillio; USA 99) proved the athlete to beat, followed by Patton Balzebre (USA 320) and Stacey Stokes (Icarus; USA 11).

Finally, much closer to my home in Seattle (AKA, the novel coronavirus capitol of North America), my wife and I took our dog for a walk on Saturday morning to try and clear our heads - albeit temporarily - of the bad news that seems to be permeating so many aspects of our modern and highly globalized lives. As we walked down the stairs leading to Seattle's Golden Gardens park, I caught a glimpse of something that will always make me smile, irrespective of the macro world.

There, on the (temporarily) sunny waters of Puget Sound, was the sight of dozens of raceboats jockeying for position on the starting line of the Blakely Rock Race (March 7), an annual affair that's hosted by Seattle's Corinthian Yacht Club. While I was just watching from shore, not from my usual perch on the rail of a competing boat, the sight of crisp racing sails pressed in the battle of competition helped me realize that, while things might be feeling dark right now, all storms must pass.

Granted, while this particular storm might only be getting going in earnest now, it's key to remember is that calm heads always prevail, whether it's on a raceboat, in business, or in the battle to contain a potentially lethal pathogen.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

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