All in the Family – McLaughlins at the Pan Am Games
The McLaughlin name is a staple in the sailing world with generations of success dating back to the 1940’s. This year is no exception with two generations competing in separate boats at the 2015 Pan Am Games. Terry, and his son, Evert, will be competing in the J24 and Snipe classes, respectively, making the event one for the history books.
Terry McLaughlin and his crew were one of front runners for Pan Am qualification in the J24 class however found themselves trailing behind veteran J24 sailor Rossi Milev midway through the May long weekend event. McLaughlin, having flashbacks to his last unsuccessful Pan Am trials 41 years ago, got the job done this time clinching the 2015 Pan Am spot in the final race of the event. Terry celebrated the win and hard fought battle with close teammates, David Ogden, David Jarvis and Sandy Andrews.
Terry’s son, Evert, took the road less travelled to Pan Am qualification this year. After placing 2nd at the Pan Am Laser trials, and narrowly missing out on a 2015 berth, Evert shifted focus to the Snipe, training with crew Alexandra Damley-Strnad and ultimately securing their ticket to Toronto on the same day as his father. Both Terry and Evert expressed their excitement for the once in a lifetime opportunity of sharing a Major Games experience together. “I cannot describe how cool it is to compete at the same Games as my father,” says Evert. “It is quite incredible to sail a sport where one can be competitive for so many years of their life. For this reason, I think it’s quite unlikely a father-son duo has tackled the Games before, let alone in their home country and home waters. Who knows, we may be bunk mates in the Pan Am Village!”
Terry, a sailing icon, won an Olympic silver medal in the 1984 Olympics – a pinnacle moment in his career. Terry’s achievements also include first place finishes at the 2011 and 2013 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, as well as being a two-time winner of the Sail Canada Rolex Sailor of the Year. When it comes to sailing at major competitions, Terry is undoubtedly a seasoned expert. He advises those competing in their first Major Games experience “to sail as if it isn’t their first Games. Don’t be in awe of the whole scene. Don’t get all caught up in the noise. Focus on your own sailing. Don’t take chances that you wouldn’t normally take on the race course.”
Terry does not take any of it for granted saying, “It is great to have my son Evert at the same Major Games. My father, Evert’s grandfather, sailed in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics for Canada. His and my Olympic sailing experiences certainly did not overlap.” Terry’s brother, Frank McLaughlin, is also an Olympic bronze medalist.
Evert is no exception to the McLaughlin legacy, sailing at 6 years old, racing competitively at the age of nine, Evert made his world championship debut in 2013, the same year that he was named to the Canadian Sailing Team. Now, Evert has his eyes on the Rio 2016 Olympics, hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps and earn a medal for Team Canada. “The Pan Am Games represent a stepping stone on the pathway to Rio 2016. The competition and overall experience of the Pan Am Games will give me knowledge and confidence moving forward and I hope to carry the momentum through the Olympic Trials,” says Evert.
At Toronto 2015, competition in each sailing event is a series of races where boats are allocated points for their finishing positions in each race. The final race in the series is called the Medal Race, which is held over a shorter course and the points for the finishing positions are doubled. The scores of the boats in the Medal Race are added to their scores from the opening series of races to determine the final standings.
Sailing at the Pan Am Games will take place from July 12th to 19th, with medal racing on the 18th and 19th. The Medal Races will take place in the inner harbour of Toronto, viewed from Sugar Beach. This marks the first time in Pan Am Games history that the Medal Races for sailing can be viewed from a downtown city’s waterfront. What’s even more enticing is that all sailing events are non-ticketed, meaning the public can cheer on Terry, Evert, and our other Canadian sailors, free of charge.