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Young Bowen Sailors triumph at Royal Vancouver for second year

BIYC Learn to Sail grads cruise through regatta

Henry Sinclair (13) and Gavin Champoux (12) representing Bowen Island Yacht Club (BIYC) came first overall in the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club’s (Royal Van YC) annual Commodores’ Cup sailing race from Aug. 29 to 31, 2023 in the RS Feva class.

Henry and his partner Liam McNolty won the Commodores’ Cup last year and therefore Bowen Island Yacht Club retains the prestigious trophy in an unprecedented back-to-back victory. The RS Feva is the most popular class with 19 boats competing. Teams from Royal Van YC, West Vancouver YC, Hollyburn Sailing Club, and Deep Cove Yacht Club were competing. Henry and Gavin won four out of five races in this year’s regatta.

Both sailors are graduates of Bowen Island Yacht Club’s Learn to Sail program held every summer at Tunstall Bay. Henry passed CanSail Level 4 (advanced sailing) last summer. He started racing Fevas with the West Vancouver YC Race Team in the fall to spring seasons after last year’s victory, and volunteered in the BIYC Learn to Sail program for two weeks this summer. Gavin holds CanSail 3 and also volunteered with the club for a week. Both Henry and Gavin completed a two-day program with BIYC coach Mait Davis before the race.

The pair were presented with a Commodores’ Cup trophy by Royal Van YC Commodore Cecil Burgers at an evening banquet with hundreds of young sailors, their parents and coaches present at the Royal Van YC clubhouse in Jericho at the end of the last day of competition. The BIYC coaches were Mait Davis and Ryan Champoux.

Gavin Champoux (left) and Henry Sinclair (middle) receive the Commodores' Cup from Royal Van YC Commodore Cecil Burgers (right). / Euan Sinclair

Also representing BIYC in the Feva class were Robin McNolty (13) and Maya Menten-Schubert (13). They came seventh overall and picked up two third-places on the last day, cementing a magnificent recovery from the first day’s race. Mateo Pedrosa, coached by Miranda Berry and Matthew Buda, competed in the non-competitive Opti Green Fleet.

This second win is a vindication of the decision of the BIYC Learn to Sail Committee to purchase two gently used Fevas as part of a group purchase coordinated by Hollyburn SC. The boats had been acquired for the RS Feva Worlds held in California in 2018 and were being sold off at the end of the competition.

The committee agreed the purchase at the instigation of Florrie Levine, Fleet Captain and supported by Philip De Connick and Euan Sinclair, the then-BIYC Commodore and Vice Commodore. The Laser 2 fleet was due to be retired from competitions, and the committee invested the surplus from the last six years of programming in the purchase of the boats.

The Commodores’ Cup was inaugurated in 1985 by Royal Van YC Past Commodore the late Patrick Oswald to help celebrate the Naval Assembly in English Bay in August of that year, and to bring together young sailors across the Lower Mainland to compete in the Corinthian spirit. Some of the trophies are Oswald’s mother’s silver champagne buckets that he repurposed.