From dinghies to keels, Sooke residents are embracing the sport of sailing in a big way.
Although still considered a niche sport, sailing has captured the imagination of a growing number of men, women, and children.
“We’re encouraged this year and we absolutely believe that there has been a growth in sailing over the last couple of years,” said Rick Nickelchok, executive director of the B.C. Sailing Association.
“It’s exciting to see Sooke have such an active club. It’s the local leadership that can get the excitement out in the community and provide opportunity for people to sail.”
Gord Fulcher, president of the Sooke Sailing Association and Starlight Sailing Adventures, is an eyewitness to the sports growth since he moved here from Alberta nine years ago.
In 2010, Fulcher was often the only sailboat out in the Sooke basin or harbour. Fast track to today and local waters are brimming with sailboats and sailors.
“People are sailing all the time now,” he said.
“Sooke is a beautiful places to sail. There’s always somewhere you can sail.”
Fulcher began sailing in Sooke almost accidentally.
He was looking for a dingy to do crabbing, but found it was too expensive. Instead, he found a sailboat for $1,300 and returned to the sport he first learned growing up in Quebec along the St. Lawrence River.
Fulcher and others wanted more people in Sooke to take up the sport, and it wasn’t long before the Sooke Sailing Association was launched.
The group members decided back in 2012 that if they wanted to see growth they would need to get children involved, since then other organizations have also started including the Sooke Sailing Association and Starlight Sailing Association.
The Sooke Sailing Association caters to youth and this summer, in the first three weeks of July, will run a children’s sailing program.
Starlight Sailing Adventures cruises year-round with introduction to sailing trip for anyone that wants to try the sport or improve their skills, while the Sooke Sailing Co-op is an inexpensive way to learn to sail and find out if it’s something they would like to pursue.
For Fulcher, anytime he can get on the water, it’s a good day.
“The area is so beautiful. We have protected waters in the basin and you can pretty much sail anywhere in a sailboat,” he says.
“Yesterday, I was out there and saw whales.”
For more information on local sailing programs, please go online to www.sookesailing.com or telephone 778-425-4030.