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Area man sets sail to Scotland to compete in 'prestigious' regatta

'There are about 250 boats … so it’s a pretty big deal,' says Adrian Allward, who's competing this weekend in the Jura Scottish Series

Adrian Allward is a self-professed “water baby,” as comfortable among the waves as he is on land.

The 41-year-old Midhurst resident started sailing at the age of five with his parents on Lake Ontario and, ever since then, admits he will jump at nearly any opportunity to be out on the water.

“My whole life I have been a water baby. Anything to do with the water ... out there, the freedom of the water, the wind, the fresh air,” he confessed in an interview while waiting to board a flight to Scotland on Wednesday afternoon.

Allward will be part of a six-person crew aboard Spirit where he will compete in the Jura Scottish Series, one of Europe’s most distinguished regattas. 

This event, he said, will be the first time he will compete in international waters, having been injured just two days before he was set to compete in the World Cup in England in 2019.

Allward has been competing in races since he was a teenager and, in 2010, participated in his first World Cup in Toronto. 

“We finished third, which is a little regret I still have that I am looking to right,” he said, adding last year he and his team won the North American Championship aboard the sailboat Lafayette. 

That event resulted in Allward and his crew to join forces with a Scottish man, who ultimately purchased a boat from Canada.

“We shipped it over last fall and have been getting the boat ready with him via What’s App … and now we are heading over there to shake down sail, get the boat rigged and ready for the worlds,” he said.

Allard and his crew mates, including his captain from Toronto, will compete in the International Eight Metres in this weekend’s event, which is being held on the west coast of Scotland near the town of Tarbert in Argyll and Bute. 

Considered one of the “most prestigious and long-standing regattas in the country,” the event attracts sailors from the United Kingdom and abroad, and is open to a wide range of skill levels, from amateurs to the more experienced racers, such as Allward and his crew, and everything from small keelboats to larger racing yachts.

“There are about 250 boats … so it’s a pretty big deal,” he acknowledged. “We are racing two races a day and are racing Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Allward will be one of six crew members aboard the boat, and said he’s excited to get out on the water.

“There are new people that I am headed to meet out there. I am going with my captain from Toronto … so it will be interesting to race with new people," he said. 

Allward says he plans to take the skills he uses in his professional life to help navigate working with a new crew for the first time.

“We are just going to head out there and do our best. There can be people, sometimes where you just don’t vibe, which is why we are starting now in this Scottish series because the World Cup is in August in Scotland, so it’s like the shakedown … get the boat going and see where we can improve,” he said.