Last autumn, I shared on Healthy Living Matters my goal to get fit enough to sail competitively in a sport boat my husband and I just purchased. I promised to let you know how my first regatta in the spring went. It is summer now, and I’m thrilled to say I’ve competed in several regattas and taken a top three finish in all of them. I accredit this to my strength-training program with BCRPA-registered personal trainer Mary Letson, and to stretching into discomfort on the boat itself. “Bee” our VX One 19’ dinghy, demands constant attention to keep it fast and in peak performance; she is my inspiration. Now, I’ll sail into the sunset with her as I set course on my new life in retirement as of August 1st.

In my competitive sailing years a decade ago, the J24 I sailed did not require the level of athleticism that my new sailboat does. Being a gym enthusiast is new to me, and I can say with utter certainty that the functional training program Mary designed, and my unwavering three times/week workouts at the gym, have given me confidence in what my body can do on and off the water.

After four months of dry-land training, it was time to add on-water training in January for the regatta season. Now, I feel strong, my posture is better, and I am lithe on the boat as I duck the boom, trim the sails, and hike out to keep the boat flat. It requires core strength and all kinds of muscles I didn’t know I had before I started this serious recreational pleasure.

We have travelled with Bee, trailering her behind our little convertible, to sail in regattas in California and Seattle, as well as competing on home waters in English Bay, Howe Sound, and Gibsons Harbour. In the hours and hours spent on the boat, I have had very little pain thanks to my improved physical condition.

My competitive spirit has been quickly re-ignited, and while this kind of sailing is thrilling it is also frightening, but my courage rises to push into discomfort and through fear.  There is still much to learn on our challenging craft, yet I know that I can physically manage it, which is not what I expected to feel so soon in this new sailing journey.

I had no idea that getting fit would bring me so much pleasure, both in the workouts themselves as well how great I feel about being in good condition. Thank you to all our BCRPA fitness leaders for the health and happiness you bring your clients; we really get it!

As of July 31st, I will be retired from BCRPA, and spending many glorious days on Bee and even more time in the gym.  In my first month of retirement, I’ll be off to Toronto for the VX One North American Championship Regatta to test my skills in a fleet of dozens of VX Ones – it doesn’t get better than this.

I’m sure each of our fitness leaders has stories of clients like me who come in with an ambitious goal they didn’t think they could attain, only to discover that their trainer’s knowledge and motivation would see them over the finish line where they’d gain so much more of life’s enrichment than was thought possible.

I am proud to be one of them and to serve as a testament and inspiration to what is attainable with the right combination of tenacity and the expert guidance of a BCRPA fitness leader.

Chart your course and start your own journey, and may the winds always be at your back.

BCRPA CEO credits fitness for her ability to pursue sailing into her retirement.About the Author:

Rebecca Tunnacliffe joined BCRPA as CEO on New Year’s Day 2016. She is motivated daily by the organization’s purpose: to enrich the lives of individuals and their communities through the power of recreation. For her, this includes enriching the lives of her staff team with whom she strives to live the values of the organization. In 2021, Rebecca’s leadership style earned her the national Charity Village award for ‘Most Outstanding Impact – Staff’, and a nominee for the Order of BC.

Rebecca’s career in non-profit leadership has been driven by interests in the arts, education, and health. Prior to BCPRA, she was the Chief Executive Officer of the Physiotherapy Association of BC, and the University Women’s Club, as well as Associate Director with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Living on Bowen Island, she enjoys a daily connection with nature, as well as a cycle commute into the BCRPA office. Her creative passion is recouturing vintage clothes into her modern wardrobe.