World-class sailors compete at Sonar championships

by Michael Lee

  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>From left, <em>Valiant,</em> led by American skipper and two-time paralympian Rick Doerr, and Lunenburg Yacht Club member Scott Covey&#8217;s Sonar <em>Shenanagans.</em></p>
  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p><em>Wife Goes On</em> from Rochester, New York.</p>
  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>U.S. paralympian and silver medalist Rick Doerr.</p>
  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>Commodore of the Lunenburg Yacht Club Michael O&#8217;Connor.</p>
  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>From left, Adrienne O&#8217;Connor and Elizabeth Covey.</p>

Olympians, paralympians and world championship sailors descended on the Lunenburg Yacht Club over the weekend for the Sonar World Championships.

Twenty five boats entered in the multi-day event brought with them a talented suite of competitors from Canada, the United States and Ireland.

Michael O'Connor, Commodore of the Lunenburg Yacht Club, said having sailors of this calibre is a great opportunity for the club to up its game.

"We're happy to extend our hospitality and get some really great competitors here," he said.

"It's like any sport really, the more you compete against the best, the better you're going to do."

The race had to be postponed on September 7 after heavy rain and winds swept through the province, but Rick Doerr, a two-time paralympian from Clifton, New Jersey, said as a sailor, you still need to get into race mode.

"Your mind doesn't really take a break," he said.

Doerr won a silver medal for the United States at the Paralympic Games in Rio last year, coming ahead of Halifax's Paul Tingley who won bronze.

Doerr said he has been sailing at the Lunenburg Yacht Club for several years and lauded the area as a beautiful place to sail.

"The conditions are very fair, right amount of wind, just the kind of stuff you like ... out there."

Colin Mann, race officer for the Sonar World Championships, said the club started preparing for the event a year and a half ago.

He credited the work of the volunteers who've all helped in making the event possible and said hosting the championships means a lot to the membership.

"It's a great honour for the yacht club."

The club has already hosted a number of events this summer and the following weekend, it will host the 2017 Women's Keelboat Championships.

"It's a pretty exciting two weeks," said Adrienne O'Connor, head instructor of the club's junior sailing program. "I'm really excited for women's sailing next week. It should be good."

The Lunenburg Yacht Club also offers sessions for women, as well as a Sail Able program for people with disabilities.

Adrienne's cousin Elizabeth Covey is a member of Sail Able and has been sailing for about three years.

"I love to sail," said Covey, "so it was kind of a good opportunity and everybody loves it, and so do I."

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