Regatta of the Year – Blind Fleet Racing Worlds at KYC

The World Championships for Blind Fleet racing was held for the first time in Canada, with Kingston Yacht Club generously hosting the event from Sept 2nd to 8th. The time and energy of 74 volunteers and the financial assistance from over 50 sponsors gave the regatta committee what they needed to execute 14 races in this 6-country event consisting of 14 teams from three blind sailing categories. The teams were challenged by a wide range of weather conditions from very light and shifty to over 20 knots.

Competitors commented throughout the ten days in Kingston on the smooth organization of the event with many remarking on how well they were well taken care of. The event required visual classification as part of the registration process: International classifiers were brought in for this. Participants and classifiers were impressed with the set up of this part of the regatta, including sight testing, paperwork collection and visual category confirmation for the teams. 

KYC showed their excellence in regatta preparation, organization, and execution while learning all about what it means to be a blind sailor. KYC showed the sailors how through the collaboration of the regatta management team and the warmth and commitment of the members, why Kingston is known as a centre of sailing excellence. Overall it was an exciting week of sailing for participants and an incredible and inspiring learning experience for volunteers and spectators. 

What does it mean to you to have been selected as the recipient of the Regatta of the Year? 

We are so excited! This was such a transformative event for us to host. There were so many moving parts and bringing everything together and working with the guidance provided by World Sailing put our regatta hosting skills to the test!

What would you say were the significant contributing factors to the success of the event? 

We had so much assistance from the local Kingston and KYC community. In total, there were 74 people on-site at different points over the week and many more working before and after the event to plan, organize, promote and support all the activities that were necessary. KYC’s Shark Fleet boat owners generously loaned their boats to the blind sailing teams and were on hand to provide assistance: many volunteered on water and some ended up as sighted team members. We are incredibly grateful to the sponsors for the event as well – in particular, the City of Kingston and the Galen Eye Centre – without them, we would not have been able to conduct the visual classification required in such an organized way! 

What inspires you the most about working with the Blind Sailing community? 

We were so impressed by the adaptive skills and commitment to the sport the blind sailors demonstrated. We heard so many inspiring stories about how sailing enabled the athletes to move beyond their visual challenges to compete in a sport they love. 

If you could give one piece of advice to a club looking to host an International Event, what would it be? 

Give your club lots of time to prepare! International events like these come with regulations that take some time and effort to address and of course, appropriate race officials have to be found and booked. It is also a good idea to get the word out to your local community early to build excitement and get donor support.

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.

Click here for more information about the Sail Canada Rolex Sailor of the Year Awards night.