Olympians and brothers Jacob and Graeme Saunders have launched the Dinghy Locker initiative, which provides help to sailors in need. “On Deck” conversation with two-time Olympian Jacob Saunders, who hails from Chester, N.S.
Congratulations on this new initiative! Could you give us more details about this?
The initiative just started recently with a donation from my brother and I to our local junior sailing program, consisting of a pile of lightly-used wetsuits and other dinghy sailing gear. The idea is to pass along old sailing gear so it can be put to good use by young, keen sailors who may be strapped for resources in an expensive sport. Lots of families are feeling financial stress right now, so we want to support junior sailors and help bring down some barriers to the sport.
What kind of equipment are you mostly looking for?
Primarily dinghy gear in smaller sizes, which could be anything including wetsuits, foul weather gear, life jackets, gloves, boots — anything a young sailor may need to stay warm and have fun on the water!
What should people from across the country do if they want to give?
They are welcome to! We hope to grow the Dinghy Locker with a broader selection of gear, and we expect the gear they have now to go quickly! Please contact Christine Santimaw at email@example.com or Chester Yacht Club Jr. Sailing on Instagram @chesterycjuniorsailiing to arrange a donation. I’ve already heard from a few friends through social media who will be donating old gear. It’s a good time to do some spring cleaning, and your old gear could be used to ease the burden on the families of young sailors and to help them succeed in the sport!
How did you come up with the idea?
My girlfriend and I were doing some spring cleaningåÊ, and we talked about what we should do with all my old dinghy sailing gear. She suggested that some of the local kids would probably put it to good use. I recall using lots of hand-me-down gear in my junior sailing days, and I agreed it would be a great idea to pay it forward. Graeme had a bin of gear at my parentsÛª house, and he agreed to donate it as well. Helly Hansen has been such a great supporter of the Canadian Sailing Team, so Graeme and I had plenty of lightly-used gear to pass along. I reached out to Christine Santimaw, the Director of Sail Training at Chester Yacht Club and the Star Sailing Program, and she really ran with the idea.
Will equipment be given out locally, with the Chester Yacht Club, or on a national scale?
Right now the program is geared at supporting Junior Sailors at Chester Yacht Club, and other nearby clubs in the province. The mandate is to support young keeners who may have limited resources to spend on sailing gear. I’d be stoked if more past and present National Team members were to start something similar at their home clubs!
How have you been since Tokyo 2020?
Busy! I got right back to work after returning home and was able to close out a successful year with the company (Mosher Engineering). I’m looking forward to summer in Chester, where I recently bought a house.
WhatÛªs your take on your second Olympic Games?
It was an extremely tough competition, but it was very rewarding. We were both holding down day jobs during the lead-up to the Games, and we hadn’t had as much time training or competing as the fleet. However, the whole experience was very gratifying and I’m proud to have represented my country again.
What are your fondest memories from those Games?
Cheering on teammate Sarah Douglas in the medal race, where she came so close to a medal. Also, cheering on my mates in the 470 class and seeing their celebrations after winning medals.
And now, are you looking towards Paris 2024?
I’m truly retired this time. I’m focused on growing my career, building a life that includes cruising and fun local races, and giving back to the sailing community that has given so much to me.
What do you do now?
I’m a project manager at Mosher Engineering Ltd. I am also getting involved with the Broader Reach Program at Armdale Yacht Club in Halifax as a volunteer and I’m working with other programs to promote and broaden access to sailing in NS (https://www.broaderreach.ca)
Do you still sail often?
I have a little Mirage 24 that didn’t make it in the water last summer because I spent all my spare time training in the 470. I am looking forward to cruising on that and racing on friendsÛª boats.