Athletes of Kingston: Robert Davis

By Ian MacAlpine

When the next Olympic games in Tokyo in 2020, Kingston may be represented by a sailor trained on Lake Ontario off of Kingston’s shores.

Robert Davis sails a Laser and has been competing on the world stage for the last number of years.

Davis, 29, began sailing an Optimist boat in Norway when he was six. After moving to Canada at 10 he joined the Junior Sailing program at the Kingston Yacht Club. He then joined KYC’s race team, the provincial team, the youth national team, and eventually the senior national team.

“My family has always been involved with sailing so I was always around the sport growing up, he said. “I enjoyed being out on the water, the camaraderie, and challenging myself against the elements,” said Davis who has a Mechanical Engineering degree from Queen’s.

Davis is currently training with the Canadian Sailing team in Spain preparing for the Trofeo Princesa regatta.

The event attracts all of the top international sailors and is a regular stop on the competitive sailing circuit. It’s part of the European sailing tour, which runs from late March to June.

He’s already had two major competitions this year, the U.S. National Championships and the Sailing World Cup Miami. Davis placed third at the U.S. Championships and 28th the World Cup. He was the top Canadian qualifying him for both the Pan Am Games and the Olympic Test Event.  Both events are major milestones towards the Tokyo 2020 Games, he said.

To gain a berth in the Olympics he has to be the top Canadian qualifier. If successful he’ll be one of 35 athletes representing their countries at the Olympics.

“My major focus for this year is to secure a berth for Canada,” he said. “I have been the top Canadian sailor for the past three years, but the next generation of Canadian Laser sailors are getting better quickly, and I expect them to give me a real challenge in the Canadian trials which will be completed by April 2020.”

Davis said he has little downtime away from sailing and training.

“I take some days to relax, see my friends, go to the gym, and in the summer time I like to stay active by windsurfing or biking.”

Davis said he enjoys sailing in his backyard, Lake Ontario.

“It is a fantastic place to sail in the summer time with good wind, nice weather, and a very short distance from where you launch to where you race. I am a big fan of sailing in freshwater – it is so much easier on the equipment than sailing in salt water and you don’t get covered in salt.”

The Canadian Olympic-training Regatta Kingston, known as CORK, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer. Davis has been competing at CORK since he was 13 years-old and calls it his favourite regatta.

There’s a reason Kingston is called the Freshwater Sailing Capital of the World, he said.

“The event caps off a summer of training with great racing and a chance to see all of your sailing friends. As you get a little older, CORK is still a major event on the calendar, and a place where you know you will get good racing.”

Davis likes the “home water” advantage he has during CORK. He says he feels comfortable at the venue.

“You know where everything is, how to solve a problem if something comes up, and nothing comes as a surprise. When others come to Kingston, they need a little bit of extra time to figure some of these things out, and I think that gives me an advantage. Having confidence in knowing that you have spent more time preparing at a venue than your competitors is also huge.”

Last summer Davis won the Canadian Championships for the third straight time in Kingston.

“CORK does a fantastic job of hosting major international events. I have been lucky enough to sail in five world championships on home water, and several North American and Canadian championships. The combination of having a bit of home-water advantage and actually having major events to compete in is huge.

Davis said when he’s home in the summer he tries to spend as much time as he can on the water but does enjoy Kingston’s downtown.

“One of my favourite things to do is to boat in to downtown and make use of the boat parking meters at the foot of Johnson Street to go to one of Kingston’s many great restaurants and patios with friends.”