Central Okanagan Sailing Association (COSA) race team member Elizabeth Hardy sailed to a gold medal win at the B.C. Games in Surrey this past weekend. Hardy dominated the regatta early on, finishing the first day of the event well ahead of her competitors, thanks to superior technical skills that helper her navigate five foot waves and twenty knot winds off of Crescent Beach.
Also a coach at COSA, Hardy capsized several times during the windy first day of races. While strong winds with heavy gusts and lots of rain challenged the sailors, it was the large waves created by shallow waters and strong currents that made for the biggest challenges.
Day two of racing was much milder, allowing the Vancouver Race Committee to run an additional four races. In the end, Hardy was able to hold off all challengers to finish with four first place and two second place finishes to easily secure the Gold Medal.
Hardy’s brother, Thomas, competed in the male division where it looked like a medal was a sure thing after the first day. Unfortunately, lighter winds on the last day of the event worked against Thomas, who is used to sailing larger, more powerful rigs on his Laser. Thomas, who is also a CSOA coach, dropped back to finish eighth in the male division.
Alex Roberts and Devin Araujo competed for COSA in the Optimist division. For both young sailors, this was their first time sailing in the ocean, which proved overwhelming thanks to the difficult weather conditions.
By the end of the event, both sailors were demonstrating top form, but by then, it was too late to mount a comeback.
Regional sailing coach Devin Rubadeau was philosophical about the whole event.
“The BC Games is challenging in so many different ways,” he said. “Lack of sleep, difficult transportation schedules, and unknown geography all add up to make it hard on athletes to succeed. The Kelowna sailors really stepped up and took charge early on, which is a testament to their time practicing and their commitment to the sport.”
Rubadeau also had this observation about the Hardy siblings performance.
“Elizabeth and Thomas competed in the Kamloops B.C. Summer Games in 2006 when they were quite young. I remember that both sailors finished at the back of the pack, in sailing conditions that were extremely windy and probably a little bit scary. Here we are six years later, and Elizabeth dominates the competition to earn a gold medal. The younger sailors (and all athletes) can really learn something from this. The Hardy’s stuck with it, battled through adversity, and came out on top. That’s what sport is all about. I fully expect to see Alex and Devin standing on the podium at the BC Summer Games six years from now.”