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Life's a breeze for Saanich teen sailor
The breezier the better for Max Gallant.
The 18-year-old sailor, who competes out of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, returned to his family’s Blenkinsop Valley hobby farm last weekend after a very successful week in Kingston, Ont.
Gallant mastered gusty winds as the top finisher in the 2014 Sail Canada Under 19 Championships, Aug. 11 to 14. He then placed a promising 11th out of 55 competitors in the open age Cork Olympic Classes Regatta last week.
“I love to sail in the breeze and it feels like I’ve spent the summer in breezy places,” Gallant said.
It’s all part of a big season for the St. Michael’s University School graduate.
Gallant finished fifth at the Laser Canadian Championships in July, and started the month with a bang as he sailed to eighth among the open field at the US Laser Nationals in San Francisco, July 31 to Aug. 3.
“San Francisco was really fun, the wind was 15 to 18 knots, gusting to 20 or 25,” he said.
The first day of the U19 championships in Kingston was light with flukey conditions, but Gallant managed to end the day’s races fourth overall in scoring.
On Day 2, it was howling with gale winds up to 30 knots. That day, Gallant was first after spending most of the day straining his quads to “hike” completely out of the boat and provide a counterweight to the sail to go as fast as possible.
“Unfortunately I was also black-flagged for false starting on Day 2 and finished dead last in one of the fleets,” he said. “But then I won another race after that and started Day 3 in first place.”
He sowed up the championship with a first place finish and two second place finishes on Day 4 in shifty but decent wind.
Winning the U19 Laser nationals is great for trophy purposes, but it’s not the qualifier Gallant will need.
Over the next three years he will campaign for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
In addition to starting his bachelor of science this fall at the University of Victoria, Gallant will be back on the water two to three times a week and in the gym everyday in addition to road biking for leg strength.
The Royal Victoria Yacht Club race team had a few members at the Laser youth nationals where 18-year-old Nick Smith reached fourth in Laser Standard, and 15-year-old John Owen was 15th out of 115 in the Laser Radial.
The youth are coached by Eric Vanderpol and Steven McBride.
Traveling for sailing competitions is costly, and Gallant runs his own fundraising campaign at gofundme.com/maxgallantlasersailing.