July 25, 2017

Canada Summer GamesThe Gimli Yacht club on their 50th anniversary is hosting the sailing venue for the 2017 Canada Summer Games being held in Winnipeg. The club has a long history of hosting the world’s sailing elites. The 1980 Canadian National laser championship is one example of these storied events. The top eight finishers reads as follows: Terry Nielsen, Andy Roy, Russell Coutts, Larry Lemieux, Colin Beashel, Dirk Kneulman, Larry Kleist and Alan Clark.

The seeds were sewn for the Gimli Yacht Club with the 1967 Pan Am Games. Unlike most yacht clubs, Gimli Yacht Club started out well equipped with a building (donated to the Pan Am Games by Camp Shilo), land (leased from the Town) and a wharf and finger docks (build by the Pan Am Games Society), but only a handful of members. Until the Airforce base at the airport closed in 1971, the CFB Sailing Club was an important member of this group in its first few years, providing some of the basic necessities, such as furniture, boats and rescue craft.

Since then the Gimli Yacht Club has been the site of many regattas at the provincial, national and international levels. National regattas have included the Fireball Nationals twice, the Laser Nationals once, the Western Canada Games, the Women's Nationals and YOTS. In 1993 GYC hosted the North American Laser Championship and in 1994 the World Board Sailing Championships. Bringing the story full-circle the Club hosted the Sailing Competition of the Pan American Games for a second time in 1999. Gimli is the only yacht club to have ever hosted the sailing venue for the Pan-American games twice The Manitoba Centennial Trophy was presented to the Club by the MSA in 170 for an open regatta to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Province of Manitoba.

From the handful of original members, GYC has mushroomed in the decades since the inaugural meeting to a membership now in the hundreds. The Pan Am Games proved the suitability of Gimli and Lake Winnipeg for sailing. Located only 60 miles from Winnipeg and having a well-developed harbour and other facilities, such as the Recreation Centre, a trailer park and camp ground, several hotels and motels, and many retail outlets, Gimli provides many advantages for competitive and casual sailors.

ConvergencePhoto by Linda Vermeulen

When the club was established, dinghy sailors were in the majority with only a few cruising boats. The often, rough conditions of the lake demanded a rugged, stable type of boat and the Albacore met this requirement. The first of the club boats were acquired from the Manitoba Sailing Center and were used for many years for training until they were replaced with the current fleet of Tumbleweeds, a fiberglass version of the popular Mirror dinghy. Currently, a majority of the members own keelboats although there is still a hard core of dinghy sailors. This change in membership has come about since the modifications to the harbour mouth in 1983-84 that prevented swells from entering the harbour during southeast gales. With the reputation as a safe harbour and the installation of the crane in 1984 it has become a large and active keelboat fleet.