Jareese Finch Talks Bringing SailGP Home

Jareese Finch, a member of Canada’s Sail Grand Prix (SailGP) team, has gone from sailing as a young boy in Antigua to representing Canada on the world stage.

Finch is a grinder for SailGP Canada. His role is among the most physical in the sport, tasked with manning the front of the event’s F50 foiling catamaran to trim the wing sail and the jib of this blisteringly fast sail craft, which can reach top speeds of nearly 100 kilometres per hour.

Such a demanding job requires the hand of an experienced sailor — an apt description of Finch, who has sailed in some capacity since the age of five.

“I grew up in Antigua — an island in the Caribbean — I started sailing at quite a young age, at around age five, and started sailing competitively in the dinghy fleet,” said Finch. “So that kind of grew my passion for it, and it’s just blossomed since then.”

Finch also has Canadian roots by way of his mother, which saw him move to Victoria, British Columbia to attend school from grade 6–12. For a time after his move to Canada, the Antiguan sailor gave up the sport to pursue other avenues.

“I played a bunch of other sports,” said Finch. “I went out once in Victoria, and it was a little too cold for my Caribbean blood, so I didn’t spend too much time in the water there, to be honest.”

After college, Finch came back to the sailing and started competing in local races. From there, he began racing on maxi yachts. When Canada joined the SailGP roster in 2023, Finch reached out to the team’s driver, Phil Robertson, to explore the idea of joining the team.

“We actually knew each other from living in Spain. I went out there and did some sailing on one of the test boats, and ended up joining the team,” said Finch. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to start showcasing Canada on a world stage, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to do that.”

Finch has since relocated to Halifax, Nova Scotia, which plays host to several of Canada’s SailGP team structure. Coincidentally, Halifax recently hosted Canada’s first SailGP event from June 1–2 as the eleventh stop on the 2023–2024 SailGP Championship.

“It’s a big milestone, to be honest. It’s something that we’ve been really looking forward to since the team started,” said Finch. “The buildup to all of this has been really monumental for us as a team; being able to bring something like this, which is a world-class sporting event, to our home waters is a dream come true. The whole team is super excited, and the whole city of Halifax, a lot of the Maritimes and Canada has been backing us really strongly.”

According to Finch, Halifax proved to be a unique and exciting SailGP event for both spectators and racers, given the layout of the Halifax harbour.

“It’s going to be quite a compact racecourse, so it’s going to be a lot of action, which is pretty fun to watch,” said Finch. “These boats do upwards of 100 kilometres an hour on the water, and we have closing speeds of over 180. We’re coming at each other fast.”

Finch said that he and the rest of his team were excited to showcase Canada’s sailing culture to the world, with SailGP events routinely bringing in a television audience of over one million people.

“It’s not often that you have 10 teams from 10 different nations all competing in one area. Having an area like Halifax, which is steeped in Maritime tradition, it really resonates with a lot of people here,” said Finch. “You don’t get opportunities like this very often, and we’re super excited to be able to show what we offer and what this whole league is.”

Photos by Tracey Wallace

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