Support4Sport funding really is the gateway to allow me to become an Olympian.

Geoff Harris, Track Athlete

Frank Denis

Encouraging Nova Scotia’s youth to sail through life
Frank Denis
Community Program

Despite the province’s endless miles of coastline and excellent wind conditions, surprisingly, many youth in Nova Scotia have never learned to sail.

“In many communities the programs simply aren’t in place,” says Frank Denis, executive director of the Nova Scotia Yachting Association (NSYA).

With assistance from the Support4Sport program, the NSYA has taken steps to change the status of sailing in Nova Scotia, and in 2009 they launched the Mobile Sailing School.

This one-of-a-kind program was created to bring sailing to communities and schools across the province. The NSYA hoped by making it possible for youth to participate in sail, that in turn the youngsters would encourage their communities to establish their own sailing programs.

The Mobile Sailing School had been under development for 15 years, but was never realized due to lack of funding.

“It never would have got off the ground without the help of Support4Sport,” says Frank.

For seven weeks, sail instructors travel the province sharing their passion for the sport. The trailer they tow along with them houses seven child-size dinghies, one of which is an ACCESS vessel.

“Anyone can learn to sail, despite age or disability. It was important that we spread that message and having the ACCESS dinghy made it possible,” says Frank.

So far the program has received tremendous support throughout the province, and it’s clear that many communities are benefitting.

Lisa Gourley’s son Ewan attended the sail school when it travelled to his hometown of Antigonish. “I was truly amazed at the progress and the things those kids learned in just one week,” says Lisa.

Lisa recounts her son’s experience saying, “it's rare to see my nine-year-old cry with emotion, but he had tears on the last day, as he was not looking forward to the camp coming to an end.”

As hoped, the sail experience has had a lasting affect in Antigonish, and Lisa has already begun rallying support to resurrect the town’s once vibrant yacht club.

“This story is truly a testament to the success of the program, but ultimately we hope that in 10 years the program won’t be necessary,” says Lisa. “Our goal is that eventually every community in Nova Scotia with an interest in having a youth learn to sail program will have their own sail instruction program.”

Through the efforts of the NSYA, and with the support of Support4Sport, it’s hoped that in time more of Nova Scotia’s youth will be sailing through life.


Halifax, NS
44° 39' 4.4388" N, 63° 36' 39.024" W


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