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Sail Canada On Deck: Alec Watters

by Sail Canada 23 Jun 19:43 NZST

Alec Watters won the title at last weekend's Saskatchewan ILCA Championships.

"On Deck" interview with the First Nations representative who will also take part in the upcoming Canada Games.

Congratulations on your gold medal at the Saskatchewan ILCA Championships! How did it go?

The regatta went well. It was quite windy. My results were consistent.

Could you tell us more about your community?

I am treaty status and a member of the Sturgeon Lake First Nation, Saskatchewan, Treaty 6 Territory. My community is located about 400 km north of Regina, Saskatchewan, and about 180 km from Saskatoon. Many of my family members live at Sturgeon Lake First Nation. I live in Saskatoon with my girlfriend, Tiana, and our son, Benjamin.

How did you first get interested in the sport of sailing?

I became interested in sailing when I was 11 through one of Sask Sailing's programs called Mobile Sailing School. I attended my first sailing school at the Saskatoon Sailing Club at Redberry Lake. Once I figured out that I could be competitive, I began sailing every summer with Team Saskatchewan. I was coached for a lot of years by Mark Lammens, who often took me to Sail West. I've also been to Youth Nationals in Laser and 29er and the Canada Games in 29er.

Are there many people in your community who sail?

Not many people from my community are involved in sailing, but Sask Sailing is looking to involve more First Nations peoples by teaching them how to sail through some of our Learn to Sail programs. Last summer, Sask Sailing held a sailing school at Montreal Lake First Nation. We hope to do more with First Nations communities this summer.

Where do you train and how many times per week do you do so?

When I am training, I sail at Saskatoon Sailing Club and Blackstrap Sailing Club, which is near Saskatoon. I try to get on the water and train three times a week. I am also a sailing coach for Sask Sailing, so I teach others the sport of sailing every day.

How did your community react when you won the title at the Saskatchewan ILCA Championships?

My family and my teammates were very proud. I am proud to be an indigenous sailor.

You will also represent Saskatchewan in sailing at the upcoming Canada Games. Does your community see you as a role model?

I know that a lot of kids from Saskatchewan sailing clubs hope to go to the Canada Games one day, so I hope to compete well and show them it is possible to be from Saskatchewan and do well. I am looking forward to being an indigenous athlete at the Canada Games representing Saskatchewan.

What is your goal at the Canada Games?

My goal at the Canada Games this summer is to compete well and have consistent results. I also just want to have fun.

You are also a sailing instructor. Since when have you had that role?

I have been a sailing instructor for three years now. The Mobile Sailing School is a summer program that we use to teach adults and kids how to sail. We travel all over the province with a trailer full of 420s.

Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day. What does it mean to you?

For me, National Indigenous Peoples Day means to remember who my ancestors are and what they went through, and to also be proud of who I am.

Have you had to face any challenges during your development as a sailor?

Sailing for me has always been something I do for fun. I like competing at provincial and national regattas. The journey has been a challenge to get where I am today as a sailor. I've put thousands of hours out on the water and hope to learn even more.

How can sailing be more inclusive, especially for First Nations athletes?

Sailing can be more inclusive by making sailing schools available to everyone. Running programs that the everyday person can be involved in.

This week is #GoSailing Week. How do we say #GoSailing in your language?

A family friend, Ted Whitecalf, who speaks fluent Cree, said the Cree word for sailing is Pimasiwin. It means "Wind Pushed."

What do you like about sailing?

I enjoy sailing because of the competition and I love just being out on the water. The sense of freedom is always a great feeling.

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