Sailor Dreams of Olympic Gold


Isabella Bertold is out wrestling her 14-foot dinghy in English Bay’s frigid December waters and summer swells alike. A novice sailor at age five and a qualifier for Canada’s national team by 13 (she’s now 23), she has a clear next stop: Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Only one woman per country goes in the Laser Radial (a one-sail boat) category, and qualifying begins in Spain this fall. While many of her global competitors are financed full-time to get there, Bertold balances round-the-clock training with her own fundraising — and part-time commerce studies at UBC.


“It takes a unique personality to fall in love with Olympic sailing. Even if you’re working harder than your competitor, Mother Nature still influences the outcome,” she says. “I have a love/hate relationship with that.” But it’s that polarized passion — coupled with a solid dose of grit — that makes her the country’s top-ranked woman. Last spring, while competing in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Bertold picked up a bacterial stomach infection that kept the determined racer out of the Hyeres World Cup in France — but she was unfazed. “I’m focusing on doing what no Canadian woman has ever done: win a medal in the sport of Olympic sailing.”


sail away


Bring Grandma  Cooper Boating, located on Granville Island, offers the two-night, two-day Keelboat Crew Course ($399), an easy entry for new sailors.

Bring Friends  Jericho Beach’s MAC Sailing offers adult lessons in dinghy sailing (from $265 for five nights), with the bonus of a post-trip beer on the Galley patio.

Bring a Defibrillator  Until September, the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club hosts Wednesday keelboat racing that’s open to non-members ($57.75/boat for four to five weeks). Don’t own your own boat? Drop by the crew circle for a chance to join a team at the last minute.


tips from the pro

Solid Foundation  The key muscle groups to staying injury-free are quads, glutes, and abs. For this, “my favourites are planks, squats, and glute-band walks”

Either Oar  If you’re short on time, try 20 minutes of intervals on a rowing machine

Pick Your Battles  Consistently make healthier choices — “although I’ll have a glass of wine here and there, and I love chocolate!” Sleep is key; Bertold needs nine hours a night


the burn

600 calories burned in one hour by a 155-pound person doing dinghy sailing (warm-up/-down extra)