Many of the continent’s most skilled and competitive sailors will take to the waters of Okanagan Lake this week for the 2016 Land Rover Kelowna 2016 Melges 24 Canadian National Championship.
The first stage on the three-race North American circuit, more than 30 boats will converge at the Kelowna Yacht Club for three days of competitive sailing, from Friday through Sunday.
While the vast majority of crews come from outside the Okanagan—including many from the U.S. and Canada’s west coast—Alan Barnes will feel right at home this weekend.
A resident of Okanagan Falls and a member of the Kelowna Yacht Club, Barnes will serve as the helmsman on Tom and Carole Greetham’s Team Distraction crew out of Gig Harbour, Wash.
“This is a really big deal for the sailors coming here, it’s an important event, so I’m excited that we can host it here in Kelowna,” said Barnes. “It’s absolutely wonderful to showcase the Okanagan and Kelowna, and we have a beautiful new yacht club to help show it off, too. It should be a great week.”
The roster of sailors includes Canadian Richard Clarke, a national team member who competed for his country in four Olympic Games from 1996 to 2012, and Richard Reid a decorated competitor from the National Yacht Club in Toronto.
There is also a large contingent of women sailors, including Kelowna’s Gillian Hayward who won last year’s Sail Canada Women’s Keelboat Championship.
“There’s been a huge growth in women’s sailing in recent years and you’ll see women in pretty much every boat,” said Barnes. “They hold their own with the men and are just as skilled.”
A speed clinic as well as training sessions for Melges 24 racers will be held on Thursday at the Kelowna Yacht Club.
Three days of racing will begin on Friday morning, with each of the planned 12 races last about 90 minutes.
There will be three main areas for spectators to view the event—one south of the bridge, one in front of the yacht club and the other north of the bridge.
For more information on the Land Rover Kelowna Melges 24 nationals, visit melges24nationals.ca.