Catching the wind in the midst of wheatfields

Sailing in Alberta? Sounds pretty stupid, eh? Well it’s not–so stop mocking me.

Sailing is indeed an activity that can be enjoyed in our dry, dry province; in fact, there are no fewer than two yacht clubs in Calgary.

For those who favour convenience over quality, there is the Glenmore Sailing Club located in south Glenmore Park on the Glenmore Reservoir–well away from notorious north Glenmore Park. It is right next to the largest land-locked sailing school in North America, where you can rent boats, take lessons, or just hang out and look good. There is no swimming in the reservoir–some stupid rule about not polluting our drinking water–but you really wouldn’t want to anyway, it stinks. Other than that, Glenmore is pretty cool. There is weekly Wednesday night racing and a number of well-attended regattas throughout the summer, although light, unpredictable winds plague both.

If you think long drives are neat, you might want to take a cruise out to Chestermere on the east side of town–exactly seven minutes from the city limits. Here you have to share the waters with powerboats; but you can swim, and the water doesn’t normally stink. The Calgary Yacht Club is a little less accessible to the public, but if you show up on a weekend, chances are that club manager Fie Hulsker will be there, and she will hook you up with any info that you need. Chestermere also holds Thursday night races, and an equal number of regattas–although the winds are substantially more predictable.

Details aside, sailing is a great sport. It combines strength, endurance, strategy and technical knowledge about how sails, weather and wind interact. It’s like playing a game of chess, driving and doing sit-ups all at once. Nothing compares to the harmony of catching a gust, riding a plane, and surfing a wave–except maybe sex. But only really good sex.

Perhaps the best part of sailing is what you can do off of the water. You can wear a Speedo, swear and drink a lot and use pick-up lines like “hey baby, wanna ride my boat?” The list is endless.

Perhaps the most fun comes if you get a boat of your own and name it. Some of my personal favourites are: Blow Me, Erwin the Burp, Bob, and The Hoof Hearted (say it fast). You may want to stick with renting a vessel until you are out of school as it is often said that a boat is just a hole in the water where you throw money.

So this summer when you feel like leaving land for a bit and enjoying some of Calgary’s pristine prairie slews, skip the motorboat and choose the environmentally friendly water sport–choose sailing.

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