The Pan Am Games experience ended with a fantastic and windy medal race held in the Toronto Harbour – finishing 3rd in the race and 5th overall (10 countries). The event ran from July 12 – 19, 2015 and featured 148 competitors from 21 nations spread out over 10 classes. All classes competed in an opening series consisting of 5 days of racing, and a final medal race in Toronto Harbour.
My crew Alexandra Damley-Strnad and I began the racing with two 3rd place finishes but were not able to consistently finish near the top for the rest of the races which left us in 5th going into the medal race. The medal race was quite a thrill as there were 50+ RCYC boats and other supporters out watching the race in the harbour. In addition, there were hundreds of supporters lining the official spectating area on Sugar Beach. On top of all the spectators watching, the Snipes did not know racing was over an hour ahead of schedule and all got to the race course right as the start sequence began. The rushed preparations, windy conditions, strong competition and short course made for an exciting medal race!
Hiking at the first windward mark in medal race
All in all, I am very happy with our performance at the Games. Our initial goal was to make the medal race in the very competitive international fleet, and even though our strong start made me hope we could possibly medal we ended up finishing where I expected. In a boat as technical and finicky as the Snipe, I was very happy we were able to make the medal race with the little experience we had. Our main mentor and training partner Augie Diaz has been sailing the boat longer than I have been alive!
When I heard the Games were coming to Toronto I knew compete in them however possible. This incredible journey led me to sail double handed for the first time, learn a brand new boat, meet some amazing lifelong friends, and have the superb opportunity to represent Canada in my home city and at my home yacht club.
Father and son discussing weather and winds between races
I would like to thank first and foremost my crew Alexandra Damley-Strnad for making the decision 7 months ago to sail with me in our first regatta, and for committing herself completely to the campaign trail right up until the end of the medal race. To all the family and friends of both Alexandra and I, thank you for the help and support you have given us along the road to the Games. For all the sponsors – Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Port Credit Yacht Club, University of Miami, Quantum Crossfit, Elevate Me – thank you!
Finally, congratulations to the Canadian medal winners! Silver – Terry McLaughlin (J24). Silver – Luke Ramsay (Sunfish). Bronze – Lee Parkhill (Laser).