Local Sailor Earns World Champion Title

    CHESTERMERE – Lesley Reichenfeld, a member of the Calgary Yacht Club in Chestermere, recently returned from San Francisco where she competed in the Laser Masters World Championship from Aug. 7 to 13.

    It was the biggest race she had ever competed in, having only taken up sailing five years ago, but in the end she won her category, the women’s Radial Grand Masters.
    She raced 12 races in six days, and said that it was an extremely challenging experience.

    “It was the most extreme conditions I’d ever sailed in,” she said. “It was interesting to have to figure out how to sail with a current, in the wind, and with different wakes to contend with.”

    Reichenfeld said that it was her first time dealing with a current of any major kind.

    “We get good winds on the lake here in Chestermere, but you don’t get the kind of boat traffic like there was there, coupled with the currents and the waves,” she said. “It was a definite challenge.”

    Reichenfeld said, “Everyone has been asking if I had fun, and it’s hard to answer, because the actual racing wasn’t fun, it was actually very difficult.

    “Each day was tough. The fun part came after the race when I got to enjoy the result and feel that sense of accomplishment.”

    Reichenfeld was one of nine competitors from the CYC that attended the race. They had the most registered competitors attending from any single club in the world. She said that having everyone there made for a fun trip, because the social aspect of the sport is just as important as the races.

    “It’s fun to go out and sail as a group and compete against each other to a certain extent,” she said. “But it’s also fun to go and have a beer and talk about sailing after. A lot of the draw is the camaraderie around it.”

    Reichenfeld said that other than the awards ceremony, the last day of racing and knowing what she had achieved was the most memorable part of the trip. She said that all of the people who were involved with the race also made it a good experience.

    “Everyone back on shore was so supportive when someone had successfully sailed and challenged themselves, and there was just an energy about the place all week long,” she said. “People would come off the water, having sailed in some pretty challenging conditions and just made it back to shore in one piece, and they would be greeted by this amazing energy. It was great.”

    The CYC hosted the Alberta Provincial Championships this past weekend here in Chestermere, and Reichenfeld won first place in her group, the laser radial. The next World Laser Masters Championship will be in Brisbane, Australia in March. Reichenfeld said that many of the CYC members that went to San Francisco will likely make that trip as well, and that she is looking forward to it.