Dalhousie students set sail for yachting World Cup

Dal sailing team competes in France and keep their hands on deck to represent Canada.

Crew members of the Dalhousie Tigers sailing team. From left to right: Justin Hall (mast), David Castle (bow), Ted Murphy (skipper) and Chris Brennan (not on the world cup team). Photo: Clara Bonnor

Students David Castle and Justin Hall were on one of the most exciting adventures of their lives.

Their team had the goal of being the first Canadian varsity sailing team to bring the Student Yachting World Cup home.

"We're definitely aiming to win!" Castle and Hall said in unison a week before the team's departure. They are the co-presidents and members of the Dalhousie Tigers Sailing Club. "Thinking about nothing other than sailing for a week is pretty solid," added Hall, in his fourth year of the Bachelor of Community Design at the Faculty of Architecture and Planning. "I'm looking forward to it."

The seven members of the Tigers joined the world's best student sailing teams participating in the Student Yachting World Cup regatta Oct. 21-28. The event was held in the waters off La Trinite-sur-Mer, France. It was the 31st running of the annual series of world championship races, organized by French engineering students. Last year, the cup went to England's Southampton Solent University.

The Dal team qualified to represent Canada by defeating the University of Guelph's team in a national regatta in Ontario in May. In September, the Dalhousie Tigers also qualified for the 2012 World Cup. 

This wasn't the first time a Canadian university competed in the event. In 2007 and 2010 Queen's University represented Canada. Their best result was sixth out of 16 sailing teams.

Close-knit team sets sail

Castle, a fourth-year commerce student, has been sailing since he was nine. He and Hall both grew up near Lake Ontario. 

"When I was a kid my parents signed me up for a sailing summer camp," said Hall, "I really liked it."

The crew was expecting some stiff competition in France. Castle said, "Apparently last year they had an Olympian sailing for one of the teams. But I think we have a great team. We can do pretty well." 

Besides having a strong team spirit while on the water, they also get along well in their free time. 

"We enjoy hanging out off the water," said Jacob Chaplin Saunders, recent addition to the team, "After practices we often meet up to talk about the day and share some beers. Even after a tough day on the water sailors are always up for a little partying."


But not all challenges took place on the water. Finding money to get to France wasn't easy. Unfortunately, only a small amount of money came in through sponsorships. The team got most of its money from sponsorships by local companies. "It's difficult, because not all of us are from Halifax, so in the summer we were pretty spread out. It was a challenge to make a co-ordinated effort towards pushing for funding," said Hall. 

The team members had to dig deep into their pockets. 

"The costs are over $20,000 between us," said Castle, "We've managed to raise some money, but the bulk of the costs are on us." 

Besides the financial commitment and the nerves, the excitement ruled. Hall said he was anticipating it to be cold and difficult, but adds, "It will be a lot of fun. And we're travelling to France, so it's certainly going be an adventure!"


Oct. 29, 2011: The Dalhousie Tigers finished the competition sixth out of 15. Arthur Loyd from Euromed, a management school in Marseille, France, won the cup. For more information, view the photos and videos of the 2011 Student Yachting World Cup.

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