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BHYC Sailor James Juhasz Aiming for Olympics

James Juhasz training in his Laser sailboat.
BHYC Sailor James Juhasz Aiming for Olympics
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James Juhasz has made it his lifelong dream to compete at the Olympics. It’s been a long road, but one that could very well see his dream achieved.

Juhasz has been sailing for 14 years with the Bronte Harbour Yacht Club (BHYC). The inspiration for it came at, like most athletes, a young age.

“My parents had a small cottage boat that we would go out on on the weekends,” said Juhasz. “They put me in sailing school as a summer camp when I was about eight years old. I really liked sailing school and excelled at it, and so after a couple of years when I was 12, I started racing at the local club.”

It was not always smooth sailing for the Queen’s University student, though. Soon after he started racing, he faced a hardship other kids go through, but he got through it.

“When I was 12, my parents split up, and I focused everything I had into sailing at that point,” said Juhasz. “Sailing was what got me through that hard point in my life.”

His dedication paid off. He was gaining serious traction as a sailor and was rewarded with a spot on the provincial team when he was 14.

Juhasz races in the Laser class, which is the only category featuring only one person in the boat.

“It’s the most basic of the classes, which means it’s the cheapest one, but the one with the most competition because it’s the most accessible,” elaborated Juhasz. “It’s the most competitive Olympic class because there are so many people racing at the same time. It’s the purest form of racing.”

James Juhasz competing in the 2019 Laser Senior European Championships

James Juhasz (CAN 210644) competing in the 2019 Laser Senior European Championships. Image courtesy: Joao Ferrand

The Laser is a one-design class, meaning all the boats come out of the exact same mold. This means there is no behind-the-scenes race to make one boat faster than the other. The boats are made from layers of fibreglass & foam and can reach speeds up to 25 knots (46.3 km/h) with a tailwind.

You would be mistaken if you thought sailors did not have to do much training. As it turns out, there is quite a lot more to it than you would think.

“I have a training group of sailors that train together,” said the BHYC sailor. “Even though we compete individually, we go out on the water, and it’s the same as any other sport. We do drills, practicing maneuvers, mark-roundings, tactical situations, as well as boat speed. We’ll go out on the water for a three to four-hour session of doing drills, and just like any other sport, we’ll scrimmage at the end. The only difference is that when you get to a regatta, you’re competing against your training partners; you’re not competing with your team.”

And that is just the on-water part.

“I have programs through the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO),” continued Juhasz. “They have a personal trainer that has a full plan for me: lots of lower body and core work, so things like squats and planks. Those are the main muscle groups that we work while we’re sailing. I do a lot of cardio training as well, because at it’s heart, it’s a cardio-demanding sport. I have my bike that I log 5,000km on in a year.”

Like everyone else, Juhasz’s training schedule has been disrupted by the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak.

“I was supposed to be back now from a regatta in Spain, but that obviously got cancelled,” said Juhasz. “One of my main training partners and I were in a training camp in Florida, and our plan was to be there fine-tuning for the regatta, drive home, and fly to Spain. We had to cut the camp in Florida short, bring everything back, and quarantine for 14 days.”

His competition schedule has also been affected.

“There’s a regatta in Germany in June that we were supposed to go to that’s been postponed to September,” explained the BHYC sailor. “The European Championships have been postponed to October, and even then, there’s no confirmation that that will continue. Right now, we’re taking things one step at a time, and seeing when the earliest we can get back on the water in Canada is.”

Interestingly, the most memorable moment of Juhasz’ career came out of the water, although it was his on-water exploits that led to it.

“Getting the Nathan R Cowan Memorial Award at the Sail Canada awards banquet was a huge win for me,” he said. “It’s given to the sailor that shows the most potential over the past year, so I was excited to get that.”

James Juhasz at the 2019 Sail Canada awards banquet

James Juhasz at the 2019 Sail Canada awards banquet. Image Courtesy: James Juhasz

Aside from the Olympics, the goal for any sailor would be to compete in the world’s biggest sailing competition, the America’s Cup. If an America’s Cup team comes calling in the future, Juhasz would jump at it. Right now, though, he’s staying grounded.

“It would be a huge dream of mine, but it’s important to stay focused on what’s at hand,” he said.

If you would like to donate to Juhasz through Wind Athletes Canada, which promotes sailing in Canada, click here. Or, you can donate to him directly on his website. If you would like to become a member of the Bronte Harbour Yacht Club when it re-opens, fill out this form and click here for more information about the types of memberships.

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