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A sailor's delight

Surrey Sailing Club's winter tradition continues in Boundary Bay.
Surrey Sailing Club members Doug Honey (left) and Darren Redies (right) go for a brisk sail on Sunday.

Members of the Surrey Sailing Club aren't going to let a little thing like winter get in the way of their passion.

The sailors embrace the icy waters of Boundary Bay every week for their annual Frost Bite Series – a club tradition for more than 35 years, with the earliest record of the race dating back to 1975.

Despite the chilly conditions, Darren Redies, the club commodore, says the experience is well worth it.

"We all go out there and of course it's a competition, but we also enjoy the water and enjoy one another's company," Redies said. "There's a sense of camaraderie – it's a bunch of diehards out there mostly in laser boats."

Fortunately for club members, the evolution in material has made it much easier to sail in the winter.

"They did it back in the mid-'70s, when all that would have been available were wet suits and maybe little sweaters," Redies said, laughing.

Now, with wetsuit material like neoprene and some suits that even weave a layer of titanium in to keep the wearer warm, the sailing club can enjoy the water year-round.

"We have a great time sailing and then we get out of the cold and enjoy a cup of hot chili together and talk about what went on in the water," he said.

Despite the the advancements made for sailing, Redies said the most important part for him is getting back to basics and getting closer with nature.

"It's pretty addictive. You're not only in nature, you're trying to harness nature and work with it," he said.

Redies first began sailing at the behest of a college friend 10 years ago. He and the friend purchased a boat together and were immediately hooked.

Despite spending years sailing, Redies admits he may never know everything about the sport – something he says makes it that much more fun.

"Because there is a lot of technical skill associated with it, you can never completely master it," Redies said. "You'll continually be learning."

And for those who are environmentally conscious, another benefit of sailing is how eco-friendly it is, he adds.

"It is a very green sport, the carbon footprint is almost nil," he said. "You're out on the water without the sound of an engine and the smell that comes from it – you get to smell and hear the ocean."

The time spent on the water helps many sailors – Redies included – to disconnect from the hectic day-to-day.

"My wife tells me to go when she sees I'm getting antsy," he said. "It can really change our outlook not only for the day, but for the week."


The Frost Bite Series will continue next Sunday, Jan. 22, weather permitting.