Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Sail Canada, Volunteer of the Year Award, was established in 1991 to recognize outstanding contributions by Sail Canada volunteers. This year’s award recipient has donated her time for over 20 years in several positions which include;

ISAF Youth Championship Subcommittee Chair  - 2001-2012

ISAF Women's Forum Chair - 2005-2012

ISAF Council Women's Representative  - 2005-2012

ISAF Events Committee Member - 2001-2012

ISAF 2014 Youth Olympic Games Working Party Member - 2011-2012

ISAF 2010 Youth Olympic Games Working Party Chair - 2008-2010

ISAF Women's Committee Member - 1998-2008

ISAF Youth Committee Vice Chair - 1998-2000

ISAF Youth Committee Member - 1994 to 1998

President of the Canadian Yachting Association - 2000-2002

Canadian Yachting Association Vice President - 1996-2000

Canadian Olympic Committee Board Member - 2003-2008 

ILCA, North American Executive Secretary – 1983 1987


Ralph Roberts MBE JP writes, “In her 12 years as chair of the ISAF Youth Worlds championship sub-committee, Fiona has brought her passion and vision to the event, making it the “jewel in ISAF’s crown.”  Under her stewardship, the event has grown in participation from less than 40 countries to more than 60, with an increasingly professional approach to the management of the event.  Fiona’s leadership has engaged not only the hundreds of sailors that have taken part, but also the thousands of volunteers that have contributed to this wonderful regatta.

Before 1999 the ISAF Youth and Development Committee had as part of their brief to look after the ISAF Youth World Sailing Championship but it was nearly always the last item on the agenda. In 2000 ISAF President Paul Henderson recognized the problem and organized that a Sub committee be set up to plan and organize the ISAF Youth World Sailing Championship. Fiona was to chair this sub-committee and report to the Events committee. 

It was through Fiona's leadership and insight that the planning of the 2002 Worlds in Lunenburg, Canada, that the Sub-committee came into it's own. Fiona made sure that members of the committee attended to monitor the major parts of the regatta such as the Jury and Race committee procedures, the on-shore connection with young sailors and volunteers and to work with the ISAF provided coordinator. Fiona was a star, helped by the fact that the Lunenburg volunteer organization was par excellence. 

It provided Fiona and committee with a blueprint for how this Championship could grow. Today through her vision and her tireless enthusiasm, we have at least three bids each year for the regatta, regardless of where we are in the world and what language is spoken. Fiona continues to smile and work harder everyday She is professional and dependable, in a way that all Canadians can be very proud of.” 


Sail Canada had the opportunity to ask Fiona for a few words on her long standing tenure as one of our most recognized volunteers. 

What has been your most rewarding volunteer experience with sailing?

I have been volunteering in sailing for about 20+ years and I would say that I have 3 rewarding volunteering experiences.   

The first would be my term as President of the CYA (Sail Canada) from 2000 to 2002.  Although the time in office is very short, I began right when the office moved  to Kingston and we embarked on a new strategic plan.  I believe that we made good progress at that time in a number of different areas and it was such an honour to serve the sport in that way.

The second significant volunteer experience was covering the sailing event at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games for CYA and the CBC.   To report on the Bronze medal performance of Ross MacDonald and Mike Wolfs to the sailing community in Canada was so exciting and again such an honour.  

And thirdly and more recently was my role as Chairman of the ISAF Youth Worlds Championships Subcommittee, which I was a chair for 12 years.  When I began my tenure, there were only 35 nations competing in 2000, and from 2009 onwards there have been upwards of 60+ nations competing each year.  This was achieved through establishing regulations and guiding principles as well as world-class standards in event management both on and off the water.   The event has grown in stature and size and is considered the premier youth sailing championship in the world. The top sailing nations consistently use the ISAF Youth Worlds as the key driver in their sailor development program. To medal at the ISAF Youth Worlds is the stepping-stone and pathway to the Olympic arena.   Today the event has eight events with the permanent inclusion of the Open Skiff event in 2010.   

In what manner do you think you've had the greatest impact on sailing as a volunteer?

I think the greatest impact on sailing as a volunteer has been at the ISAF Youth Worlds level.  I believe that my work has helped establish the event as the premier Youth Sailing event in the world since the event started in 1971.   I was able to steer the planning of the event through my collective experience in sailor development, event management, and marketing and communication to ensure a very high level of delivery each year.  It was a huge commitment in terms of time each year as I attended the Mid Year and Annual ISAF meetings as well as the event itself for 2 weeks every summer. I loved absolutely every minute of it and enjoyed the many people that I met and worked with along the way.  It was a wonderful journey and it was satisfying to know that all of my years of work accumulated in the 2012 ISAF Youth Worlds in Ireland,  whereby I believe it was the best event ever. Bids from MNA's from around the world to host this very important ISAF event continues to increase each year, which signifies the importance of holding such an important event in a region and its effect on youth sailing in the area. The legacy that this event leaves behind is significant for many years. 

What advice would you give to volunteers interested in becoming involved in or who are already involved in sailing? 

My advice would be to follow your passion. As time is precious however, it must be fun and fulfilling.  As a volunteer, you will meet wonderful people and be part of a very special community. Volunteering time in this sport is so important because without volunteers sailing would not be the wonderful sport that it is today.  It is the time and effort of parents, sailors, and club members that enable all of us to enjoy our sport  in a variety of different ways year after year.    


Fiona Kidd worked as Media Coverage & Commentary for the CYA and CBC at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, was a former Canadian National Team Member from 1980-1983 on the 470 Women's Team and a two time Bermuda Race Week winner. She currently enjoys Intraclub Laser Masters Racing and Nonsuch 30 Club Racing & Cruising. 


Fiona will be receiving her award on January 19th 2013 at The Carlu in Toronto at the annual Sail Canada Rolex Sailor of the Year Awards. 

For tickets to the Sail Canada Rolex Sailor of the Year Awards please click here.  

For information on other recipients click here.