Nova Scotia’s Team Lewin-LaFrance to Make Olympic Sailing Debut

As siblings and as a sailing duo, Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance have gone from sailing cottage lasers as young girls to making their Olympic debut in the 49erFX class.

The Montreal-born, Nova Scotia-raised pair have had garnered many sailing accomplishments since their days at the Chester Yacht Club sailing school. In the six-year Olympic campaign, team Lewin-LaFrance has garnered achievements like winning bronze at the 2021 European Championships and the 2022 Kieler Woche, coming sixth at the 2021 World Championship, being awarded the 2022 Rolex Sailors of the Year award for Canada as well as the 2021 and 2022 Sail Nova Scotia Sailors of the Year award.

Their qualifying competition, the 49er and 49er FX World Championships in Lanzarote, Spain, saw the team boost their standing to eighth place overall after finishing second in the world’s. According to Georgia, her and Antonia fully expected to have to compete in a second qualifying event in Palma, Spain.

Georgia and Antonia. Supplied photos.

“Neither of us ever thought or imagined that the trials would be over right now,” said Georgia. “It ended up being so unexpected and really shocking and made us super proud. There’s a huge sense of relief that we didn’t have to go to the second event, which we knew would be very taxing mentally.”

For both Georgia and Antonia, the prospect of competing in the Olympics is a surreal one. So much so, that they had very little planned between the 49er World Championships and Paris Olympics in July.

“We had absolutely nothing scheduled or booked after the trials. If we hadn’t qualified, we would have taken a break, at least, or stopped sailing the 49er,” said Antonia. “So, right now, we’re just trying to make a calendar. We’re working with our training partners, the Belgians, who’ve already qualified and try to align our schedules with them and try to figure out what the Olympics are. It’s such a different event, because everything is so managed, and the logistics are insane.”

For now, Team Lewin-LaFrance is soaking in every moment as they round out six years of intense training, competitions and travel. While they think the pre-Olympic nerves will set in, the duo has taken some time to rest on their laurels.

“I just feel an enormous sense of pride and happiness, having won the trials,” said Georgia.

“I feel like the stress has been sucked out of my body right now, and hopefully for a little while I can sail a bit less stressed. I’m sure the nerves before the Olympics will come, but I think for a little while, we’re just enjoying the moment of having accomplished this feat.”

Georgia and Antonia aren’t the only ones celebrating their success. Between friends, family, coaches and training partners, the team’s camp has been abuzz with excitement over the news.

Georgia Lewin-LaFrance serves as A strategist for Canada’s Sail Grand Prix (SailGP team). Strategists in SailGP analyze data such as wind speed and direction to provide strategic input.

“When we crossed the finish line, our training partners who came out to watch us immediately started screaming and spraying champagne on us. I’ve never been hugged so much or received so many messages from people way in the corners of our lives — people that you would have never expected to say such nice things to you,” said Georgia. “I don’t know another day that comes close to it, by any means.”

As Georgia and Antonia Lewin-LaFrance prepare for what could be the most monumental event of their sailing career, they wanted to thank the sponsors that made the years of training and globe-spanning competition possible over the last six years. Team Lewin-LaFrance extended a special thanks to Ocean Yacht Sales, Atlantic Yacht Sales, Trim Landscaping and Marlow Ropes.

The 2024 Paris Olympics is scheduled to begin on July 26, 2024. More information can be found at olympics.com/en/paris-2024/schedule/sailing.

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