Getting back on the water led Squamish resident Garry Cotter all the way to Oman.
Cotter recently returned from the World Masters Sailing Championships in the Persian Gulf country and said after getting involved as a volunteer with the Squamish Yacht Club his passion for the sport has been re-ignited.
“I raced Laser dinghies extensively from about 1978 to around 1985 competing at many regattas in District 6 [B.C., Washington and Oregon] as well as at Canadian and U.S. National Championships,” he told The Chief. “Then life got in the way of sailing, but about 18 months ago, I got involved as a volunteer with the youth sailing at the Squamish Yacht Club and rediscovered how much fun dinghy sailing is.”
He picked up a used Laser, competed in a few B.C. Cup regattas and the B.C. Masters races, then decided to race at the U.S. National Masters championships in California. He managed to qualify for one of the 15 spots to advance to Oman to go up against nearly 200 other sailors.
Cotter placed 30th out of 39 competitors in his age category and said the conditions in Oman were quite different than Squamish.
“The sailing was amazing,” he said. “So different from Squamish's moderate to strong wind and cold water. In Oman, we were sailing in the Indian Ocean in light to moderate winds with air temperatures around 30 degrees (C) and water temperature at 28. It was like sailing in a bathtub.”
He noted that the competition was intense with several past Olympic champions in the water, but that it was a fun, social event. Cotter said he hopes to return to the water next year.
“My plan for next year is to sail at several Masters events in B.C. and Oregon as well as sailing in B.C. Cup series and encouraging some of our Squamish youth sailors to sail some B.C. Cup events,” he said. “My plan is to again qualify and attend the World Masters in 2015, which will be held in Kingston (Ont.).”
Cotter will continue working with the SYC. The club will host a B.C. Cup race this July and officials hope to increase youth interest in the sport. The SYC has been conducing CanSail learn to sail programs for the last five summers and Cotter said there is a small group of dedicated young sailors that now regularly race.
For more information on the SYC and its programs, visit www.squamishyachtclub.com.