Sailing is such an important part of Kate Storey's life that she describes it as running in her veins "through many generations".
The social venture capitalist originally hails from Shediac, New Brunswick, where she grew up spending a lot of time on boats.
“When I moved to Vancouver I started sailing locally and was just blown away by the beauty of being able to sail on the ocean amidst the mountains and the biodiversity of wildlife,” Storey told the Straight in an interview at the Renewal Funds office downtown.
She soon fulfilled her dream of having an all-female sailing team by teaching a group of her friends how to sail. The team, which started up four years ago, now races every Thursday night from April to October on a boat called Maritime Diva, and participates in a regatta every second weekend.
During her time sailing on the West Coast, Storey also became passionate about protecting the waters.
“There’s lots of things that can be issues, including tanker routes,” Storey explained.
“Being a sailor, you go out and experience storms that are just jaw-dropping, you know 40 knots of wind, and people can barely control their boats, and it’s almost inevitable that if there are oil tankers running up and down our coastline and the Georgia Strait that one of these days, something will happen with the rocky shores that we have.”
Storey recalled one particularly memorable experience when she raced single-handedly across the Georgia Strait on a stormy day.
“The wind was very, very strong,” she said. “And on the way over, I saw a pod of orcas, and then a humpback whale surfaced beside me, and I was literally hooting and hollering. And the whale surfaced and then blew open its blowhole right beside me, and I got whale snot all over my boat.”
It’s these kinds of brushes with West Coast wildlife that inspired her and her team to get involved with the Georgia Strait Alliance. She was recently elected to the board of the organization, and her team has organized a regatta this weekend to raise money for the non-profit.
The regatta will take place around English Bay Saturday (August 23), and a barbecue will be held at 6 p.m. at the Vancouver Rowing Club for both sailors and non-sailors.
Storey said about $12,000 has already been raised for the Georgia Strait Alliance as part of the event.
The registered charity is dedicated to protecting and restoring the marine environment and to promoting the sustainability of the Georgia Strait and the communities and waters around it.
Storey noted that while she has sailed in many waters around the world, few compare to B.C.
“It was so apparent to me, being someone who moved to Vancouver instead of having grown up here, that we are so lucky. There is nowhere else on Earth like this,” she said.
“But we do take it for granted. You see the beaches littered, and luckily we have great clean-up programs, but people need to respect and cherish the water and coastal habitats that we do have, so that it’ll be around for generations to come.”