Members of the Kootenay Lake Sailing Association gather with Canadian sailing stars Sam Gustin and Ian Woodbury.

Members of the Kootenay Lake Sailing Association gather with Canadian sailing stars Sam Gustin and Ian Woodbury.

Young Kootenay Lake sailors meet rising stars

The Kootenay Lake Sailing Association’s youth program received a boost late last month

The Kootenay Lake Sailing Association’s youth program received a boost late last month when a pair of Canadian rising stars on the international scene paid a visit to Nelson.

Skipper Sam Gustin and crew-mate Ian Woodbury captured the gold medal in mid-August at the North American 29er Sailing Championships at the CORK Olympic Class Regatta in Kingston, Ontario.  The 29er’s are a two-man high performance sailing skiff. The 29er class is the training class for the Olympic 49er sailing class.

The pair are two of Canada’s best sailors and before stopping by Nelson already had a connection to the Kootenay Lake Sailing Association’s youth program. Gustin was the first coach to come and train young sailors for the Kootenay Lake Sailing Association Youth Sailing programs two years ago.

The Vancouver resident made a huge impact on a number of youth in the area with his enthusiasm and dedication to the sport and has helped create a legacy for youth sailing in this area.

“Nelson and Kootenay Lake are a spectacular location with an incredibly supportive community and we are so very happy to continue to support the vision of a first class youth sailing program here,” said Gustin.

Local youth sailing fleet captain David Oosthuizen said the visit gives young sailors in this area athletes to look up to.

“These Olympic hopefuls know what it takes to be great, and have a dedication and focus that is truly inspiring,” said Oosthuizen. “They have spent thousands of hours training to put themselves at the top of their game. These two young men also understand that they have huge impact on the kids they engage with.

“The children who came out to meet them were wide-eyed and absolutely enthralled to be around Sam and Ian and hear their story.”

The youth sailing program in Nelson and area will be going into its fourth year in 2013 and things are shaping up to be another great year building on previous year successes.

Local supporters like Secret Garden Toys, Maclean & Taylor Chiropractic, Dr. Kathryn J. Bibby, Dr. Carrie Fitzsimmons, Kokanee Camera, City of Nelson, RDCK Areas E and F and the Columbia Basin Trust have helped establish sailing in the community.

“The association and the Nelson and District Community Complex have agreed that next year the youth sailing program will be taken to the next level with the highest level of coaching, ensuring that we will inspire the all the children who take our courses,” said Oosthuizen. “We have a commitment and focus to a life-long love of sailing and we understand what a difference a coach like Sam Gustin can make to the lives of young people in this area.”