Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Youth sailers heading to Gimli

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BRIGETTE Smutny wants people to become hooked on sailing, and the public will have an opportunity to see sailors in action at the 2002 Canadian Youth (18 and under) Sailing Championships, Aug. 6 to 11 at the Gimli Yacht Club in Gimli.

"It will be nice to see people come out to the competition and just watch the sailing," says Smutny, executive director and head coach of the Manitoba Sailing Association.

About 220 competitors, supported by over 50 coaches and a large number of parents, are expected for the event. While most of the 75 volunteers are Manitobans, the competitors and coaches will be representing every province in Canada.

The competition will feature female, male and mixed categories. This is a high profile event in the youth sailing scene, and one that the Canadian Yachting Association and Manitoba Sailing Association are proud to sanction.

The yacht club facilities in Gimli date from the 1967 Pan Am Games, and were upgraded as the sailing venue for the 1999 Pan Am Games. They were also the site of the 1994 World Board Sailing Championships.

The visiting sailors will stay in the Gimli area, with many of the competitors and coaches being housed at the Misty Lake Lodge, which served as an athletes village during the 1999 Pan Am Games.

The competing classes will include the laser, byte and mistral windsurfer as well as the laser II and 29er.

Smutny says the laser sail boat, which is raced in the Olympics, is skippered by a single person.

"It's mostly raced by men," she says, adding that a laser, which costs about $6,000, is a 3.8-metre long dinghy with one sail. "It's a very high ranked boat because you find lasers all over Canada. It's a very big class worldwide."

The laser radial is known as "the little sister" of the laser, adds Smutny, adding that all the boat hulls are made of fibreglass. "The bottom section of the mast and sail are smaller on the radial, otherwise it's the same as the laser.

"It's mostly sailed by men or women in the lighter weight categories. The byte is also a single-handed boat used for development for both boys and girls. Normally, kids begin sailing in an optimist dinghy and move up to the byte and upwards from there."

The laser II is a double-handed boat with a main sail, jib and spinnaker.

"A jib is a small foresail and the spinnaker is a sail used for downwind sailing. It's a colourful sail," says Smutny.

The laser II is slowly drifting out of competitive sailing because the 29er and 420 are now the official youth boats, says Smutny.

"This will probably be the last youth championship for laser II," she says, adding that the 420, a "double-handed boat," also has a main sail, jib and spinnaker.

"The 29er is a new, exciting skiff. All the other boats are (classified as) dinghies. (The 29er is) a very exciting and fast boat. It's the little brother of the 49er, which is an Olympic-class boat. So, this is used as a stepping stone to the 49er. We hope to draw some attention to skiff sailing."

A Manitoban participated at the Youth World Sailing Championships in Lunenberg, N.S. from July 18 to 26. Cassidy Richardson teamed with Alberta's Maddy Purves-Smith in the 29er class.

"Our youth team of Cassidy Richardson and Katja Smutny (Brigitte's daughter) surprised the rest of Canada with a superb performance at the Midwinter's in February in Florida and won the one spot for Canada for the Youth Worlds Championship in Lunenburg," says Smutny, a former world class competitive sailor from Germany.

Katja Smutny was unable to sail with Richardson at the youth worlds in Lunenberg because she's a landed immigrant and the Canadian Yachting Association requires participants to have Canadian citizenship. As a result, she was replaced by Purves-Smith.

Besides the sailors mentioned above, Smutny also has high hopes for other local athletes at the upcoming competition in Gimli. These sailors include Royden Brousseau in the byte class and Lawrence Stewart in the mistral class.

For further information, call the MSA at 925-5650 or visit their web-site on the Internet at www.sailmanitoba.com.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 31, 2002 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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