No, not a wine cork!

CORK stands for Canadian Olympic training Regatta Kingston.  The organization was founded in 1969.   The mission – to provide the ideal training site for Canadian sailors who aspired to represent Canada at the Munich 1972 Summer Olympic games.  The wind and waves in Kingston harbour are very similar to those in Kiel, Germany (the sailing venue for the 1972 games) and Kingston would serve as the sailing venue for the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympic Games.  The strategy was to make Kingston the Freshwater Sailing Capital of the World by hosting an annual major sailing regatta for the Olympic Class sailboats and their Skippers and crew.

Since that first year and for most of the following 40 plus years I have been one of the 300+ volunteers who help run regattas (in one or two week stints) throughout the summer months from our Kingston Portsmouth Olympic Harbour.  We host events for a wide variety of classes of boats, sailed by males and females of all ages and at all levels of experience.    This has been one of the most fulfilling volunteer experiences I have had during my lifetime and I hope to continue for another year or so!

We are so fortunate to have some of the best freshwater sailing in the world in Kingston and it is wonderful to volunteer at the regattas held here on our doorstep, to watch the youngsters progress through various stages as they grow and compete year after year – and it is also great to see some of the “old timers” still out there on the start line giving it their all. This past summer in addition to the CORK August regattas we also hosted the Laser WORLD championships.  When all was said and done, over 1400 boats, 2000 sailors and coaches from 64 different countries competed.  That is a lot of people and a lot of boats!! It was an exciting time and just recently the expertise of the CORK volunteer team was recognized when we were awarded the SAIL CANADA Chisholm Trophy for excellence in race management

There are loads of jobs up for grabs for both experienced and inexperienced people – on the water as a recorder, timer for starts and finishes, raising and lowering signal flags, radio communications, “tweeting” live action results, etc. on the Race Committee boat, or laying the course marks and start/finish lines from Zodiac inflatables or helping on the safety boats. On land there are many equally interesting jobs – Computer Results, Measurement, Registration, Equipment, Boat Maintenance, Boat Launch, Media Relations, tracking competitors when leaving from and returning to harbour (so we know we haven’t lost anyone), writing press releases, giving out lunches to the volunteers, plus other jobs which come up during a regatta.  The international nature of the regattas means volunteers with French or other language capabilities are particularly welcome.

It is very rewarding to become part of any regatta in whatever position you choose to volunteer. It is exciting, busy and just generally a lot of fun. You meet new people of all ages – both sailors and volunteers. And for those serving on the water, it is a great learning experience for sure, particularly to those not very familiar with racing. Watching the start of a 40-50 sailboat fleet is fantastic!!! And being right there when these big fleets cross the finish line is often something else again and a bit hair-raising at times!

I have already celebrated the fifty-eight anniversary of my 29th birthday so I won’t be volunteering for all two weeks this summer, but if you chose to volunteer here are some of the dates.   I know you will have as much fun as I have!

CORK 2016 Regatta Calendar

July 22-24             Etchells Canadians

August 11-14         CORK International Optimist (youth)

August 14-18         CORK International SAIL CANADA Youth Championships

29er North American Championship

August 19-24         CORK Olympic Class Regatta SAIL CANADA Senior Championships

August 19-25         J22 WORLD Championship

August 20-23         FINN Eastern Championship

August 21-26         National Sea Cadet Regatta

September 23-25   CORK FALL Regatta

The easiest way to find out more and to volunteer is to go to the web-site:, or you can email or call the CORK office at, (613) 545-1322, or visit them at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour.  A very friendly and enthusiastic group are there to help you get involved.

By Sheila Murphy