William Abbott Sr. Trophy; Sail Training Program of the Year – Glenmore Sailing School

Glenmore Sailing School, located on the Glenmore Reservoir, is the largest sailing school in Canada. The GSS fleet is made up of more than 100 dinghies (including optimists, lasers, and 420s) and a 22-foot Catalina keelboat. The school is a member of the Alberta Sailing Association and represents more than 65 percent of all sailing activity in Alberta. Glenmore Sailing School has been getting Calgarians out on the water for more than 50 years.

The Glenmore Sailing School offers a  wide range of activities for people interested on getting out on the water. The list includes group and private sailing lessons, sailing camps, racing opportunities, corporate team-building, and sailboat, canoe, and kayak rentals. Over the years, the hardworking staff at the Glenmore Sailing School have created a community-focused, welcoming space to encourage both new and veteran sailors to get out on the water.


Can you give us a bit of history on the school? 

The Glenmore Sailing School was originally conceived in 1962 when the program was given to the City of Calgary to run separately from the Glenmore Sailing Club. Since then it’s been run as a public sailing program serving Calgarians with the attempt to make sailing accessible to the general public.


What efforts you have put into it to make it one of the most successful in the country?

I’ve been working with multiple sailing staff and management, with a special thanks to Doug Bruneau for the past 6 years in a Head Instructor capacity. We’ve revamped almost the entire program; from instructor training, maintenance, program flow, student retention, staff development, uniforms, rental programs, financial planning and High School programming amongst other initiatives. I also completed my architecture master’s thesis at the University of Waterloo in 2017, looking at sailing as a case study of how to make buildings better reflect why people become involved in sport. 


You offer a variety of Sail Canada programs, what do you do to ensure sailors keep coming back every year?

We work really hard at making participation in sailing easy. For youth, we provide a lot of information about what course to take next, or how to continue to develop their sailing skills. Once they graduate the program I also work as a learning facilitator with Alberta Sailing to transition them to become instructors, coaches and athletes. We also provide information about other sailing clubs in the area and continuing opportunities in the sailing community. You can have the best programs, the best staff but if no one knows about it then it’s ineffective.


What is the secret to making a program successful?

Two things, the first is investing, developing and giving responsibility to staff to really take initiatives and develop and run the program. So many instructors and coaches have amazing ideas and are fighting for an opportunity to make a meaningful opportunity to contribute and grow their program; it gives them pride, confidence and something they can say they helped build. The second is to take a design-mind or iterative approach to sailing and program development; I always tell all the staff that they won’t execute a new idea, the first, second or sometimes even third try, it’s not about being perfect, but about being critical about what isn’t working and continually refining their coaching/maintenance/racing/program development/administration/etc until it satisfies all the criteria that they had set out to achieve.


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.

Get your tickets today! 

Looking for more information? Please contact sailcanada@sailing.ca