Born on the edge of Lake Ontario in Oakville, ON, it is no surprise that James took to the sport of sailing at a very young age. He started sailing at age 7, by 12 he was representing his home club at races across the province and at 14, was invited to join the Ontario Sailing Team. While continuing to pursue his love of sailing all across North America, James graduated high school with honours and decided his next years would be spent at Queens University in Kingston, ON.
Kingston was the perfect training base as he committed to his dream of representing Canada at the 2024 Olympics. In the past two years, James has stepped up his training program, leading to a 4th placed finish at the Laser North American Championships in 2019. He is also spending upwards of 200 days/year on the water, regularly embarking on 100km bike rides, and expanding his competition ground to include Australia and multiple countries across Europe.
- How does it feel to be the recipient of the Nathan Cowan Memorial Award?
It is a massive honour to be this year’s recipient of the Nathan Cowan Memorial Award. Often in high performance sport when you are spending weeks working for a fraction of a percent advantage it can feel like you’re spinning your wheels. It is moments like these that keep you confident that you are moving steadily in the right direction. Having public recognition from a national authority saying they believe in you is a very motivating thing and I am excited to get out there and prove that their confidence is not misplaced.
- You’ve been working hard and training with members of the CST & CSDS, what’s something you’ve learned from them this year?
Working with the older members of the CST has been a great opportunity these past few months. Rob (Davis) and Hugh (Macrae) in particular as I have never had the opportunity to train with them before. While it is hard to pinpoint one learning in particular because most things are very specific or technical, it is fair to say that their work ethic and commitment to a professional training environment has certainly rubbed off on me.
- What do you hope to achieve in the years to come?
Well, I think it goes without saying that I am working tirelessly to represent Canada at the Olympic games in 2024. Currently, all my resources are being thrown at making that dream come true, but on a more fundamental level, I am working to make my campaign economically reasonable for me and my family. I am working on fundraising efforts as well as continuously exploring avenues for corporate support. Hopefully in the next few years, I will be able to get these efforts to a level that makes sailing at an international level a little more fiscally responsible.
- What would be a piece of advice you could give to young sailors to stay motivated?
When I was younger I always knew deep down that I was meant to be out on the water. You go through highs and lows, sometimes those lows can be really painful, but at least for me after a while, I always ended being drawn back to getting out on the water. What I would say to kids growing up is looking for that thing that you keep being drawn back to and don’t stop looking till you’ve found it. Maybe it is sailing, maybe it is something else, It could literally be anything in the world. All I know is that once you have found the thing that through thick and thin reels you back in, you better stick with it because that is the thing that is going to make you happiest.
Join us in recognizing the 2019 Sail Canada Awards recipients at the Sail Canada Rolex Sailor of the Year Awards on Friday, March 6th, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario at The Carlu.
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