Even in what seems like a land-locked province, opportunities exist to hit the water

It can be intimidating climbing into a small boat that is solely powered by wind. Once being pushed across the water, the experience of sailing can be something relaxing and enjoyable.

Sailing may seem like a summer activity, but as long as the weather stays good, sailors can hit the water as late as October. Many Alberta lakes provide some of the best and most challenging sailing opportunities.

Sea cadets from across Alberta competed in a provincial sail regatta on September 24 and 25 at Sylvan Lake. Photo: Jessica Cameron“Sailing is probably one of the best kept secrets in Alberta, people who have sailed for years arrive here and stop sailing,” says Peter MacDougal, executive director of Alberta Sailing Association.

1. No motors and strong winds ahead on the Glenmore Reservoir

Right here in Calgary, Glenmore Reservoir has been named the top water body for sailing. Becki Tyssen, avid sailor and instructor, does most of her sailing here.

“Glenmore may be small but the shape of the reservoir keeps it challenging and fun,” Tyssen says.

That’s because the reservoir gets some of the strongest winds in Calgary, according to Dave Layton, a sailing instructor with Wildrose Charters and Sailing School. He agrees that Glenmore is a challenge, and he has been more afraid sailing on the reservoir than when he sails on the ocean.

MacDougal says what makes Glenmore Reservoir a great place to sail is the location, as it isn’t often you can sail in the middle of the city.

Another reason the reservoir attracts sailors is the fact no motorized boats are allowed on the lake, keeping boating traffic low. Layton says motorized boats have a huge impact on sailors and can make sailing a challenge.

The Glenmore Sailing School, run by the City of Calgary, is an option for people looking to learn to sail. The school offers different classes allowing sailors to achieve various sailing levels. The classes are mainly offered throughout the summer months, but there are still chances to get on the water before the snow flies. Check out recguide.cocnmp.com for the listings of classes and prices offered.

The Glenmore Sailing Club shows the different opportunities that the sail club offers for all levels. This fall the sailing club has a fall racing series to participate in.

2. Regattas on the clean water of Wabamun Lake

Wabamun Lake is located approximately 60 kilometres west of Edmonton. It is well known for the CN oil spill that happened on the water in 2005, but not so well known for its great sailing waters.

But MacDougal says the water is clean now and it’s a big lake with good winds.

The Wabamun Sailing Club focuses on the racing aspect of sailing but also offers Learn to Race programs and hosts many regattas throughout the sail season for its members.

3. Cruising courses available on Ghost Lake

Ghost Lake is 17 kilometres west of Cochrane on the 1A highway. The lake is known for the steady and strong winds that come through, making for great sailing weather, Tyssen says.

According to the website, there is no longer a sailing club affiliated with the lake. However, Ghost Lake Sailing Academy offers cruising courses, for sailors who use more than wind to power their sailboats.

Even though there is no sailing club, this shouldn’t discourage sailors to experience what the lake has to offer. The academy offers basic cruising classes into September.

4. Smooth waters for sailors of all ages on Chestermere Lake

Chestermere Lake is located about 19 kilometres east of Calgary in the town of Chestermere. While some sailors criticize Chestermere Lake for being crowded and having lots of weeds, it’s an extremely popular sailing destination.

MacDougal says there’s active competition for all ages, which makes the spot great for sailors of all ages. The Calgary Yacht Club provides numerous training camps over the summer for sailors of all levels. As well sail regattas are hosted throughout the season.

5. Sail free of crowded waters on Sylvan Lake

Sea cadets from across Alberta competed in a provincial sail regatta on September 24 and 25 at Sylvan Lake. Photo: Jessica CameronFor sailors looking to go a bit farther out of Calgary, Sylvan Lake is a choice destination, found right in the town.

An advantage to this lake is the space and remote feeling it offers. The Sylvan Lake Sailing Club can also be found along the southeast shores of the lake. The club doesn’t have any training courses, but offers weekly sail nights and races throughout the sailing season.

jcameron@cjournal.ca