Saanich residents John McRoberts and Jackie Gay received the National Sailing Award of the Year earlier this month in Toronto.
The SKUD team were recognized for their outstanding achievements at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. McRoberts and Gay, who sail out of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, captured the silver medal in the two-person mixed keelboat fleet, turning the country of Canada into the second most successful Paralympic sailing nation in the world.
As partners in sailing and life, McRoberts and Gay had to overcome many obstacles to get to the podium including a significant injury sustained by Gay just days before Paralympic competition. “Persistence pays off,” she said. “We’ve faced many challenges quite similar to this and came out stronger. It gave us the confidence to know that we could overcome anything.”
McRoberts’ sailing experience undoubtedly contributed to the couple’s success in Rio as he has competed in four Paralympic Games. McRoberts won silver steering the crew boat at the 1996 Atlanta Games when Paralympic sailing was a demonstration sport, captured bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games navigating the SKUD 18, and he finished fourth in London four years ago.
“If I were writing a book of my career, this would be the perfect ending, winning the Rolex Sailor of the Year beside my wife Jackie Gay. Sometimes it feels like Rio was a dream but tonight brings it all to life. I feel truly honoured,” said McRoberts.
The pair were presented with Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master watches courtesy of Rolex Canada.