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1 August 2008, 09:42 pm
Canada's Sailing Families Keep Up Olympic Tradition
Jen Provan at the Athens Olympic Games
Jen Provan at the Athens Olympic Games

2008 Beijing Olympic Games

While Canada's Jennifer PROVAN, Martha HENDERSON and Katie ABBOTT received their invitation to sail in the Beijing 2008 Olympics in late June, they are not Iate comers to Olympic sailing. They share a boatload of Olympic sailing history.
Helping the team rig of Jennifer PROVAN, Martha HENDERSON and Katie ABBOTT rig their boat was Bill ABBOTT Jr. (CAN).

"Katie has two words for me. When she needs help with the boat, she calls me 'coach'. When she needs money, she calls me 'dad'," said the boat builder of approximately half of the Olympic Yngling fleet.

Bill ABBOTT, Jr. was the runner up for the Canadian Olympic Sailing Team in 1984, 1986 and 1992 and qualified for the 1980 Olympic Games in the Soling with his father Bill ABBOTT, Sr. He did not get to sail in the Olympics until 1996, when he sailed Solings with his wife, Joanne, who is Katie's mother. He went on to sail the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games with his brother, Matt.

While Bill ABBOTT Jr. is the Canadian coach, he typically spends an inordinate amount of time assisting Yngling teams from other countries with their boats.

At the 2008 World Championships the team made a shirt for him that said, "Property of the Canadian Sailing Team. Boat Consultation Appointments must be made through the Team." All work orders were written on the shirt. By the end of the regatta, it was completely covered.

"What I give now, I will get back later. That is just the way it goes in the sailing family," said ABBOTT referring to the international sailing community.

Martha HENDERSON (CAN) has been sailing Abbott boats for years and has been around Olympic sailing for as long as she can remember. While this is Martha's first Olympics as a competitor, her father, Paul HENDERSON, competed in all of the Canadian Olympic Sailing trials from 1948 through 1984. He sailed the Flying Dutchman at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and the Finn during the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games.

Like Bill ABBOTT, Paul HENDERSON coached the Canadian Olympic Sailing squad although HENDERSON'S coaching duties date back to the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. HENDERSON held many volunteer positions with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) over the years, notably its presidency from 1994 through 2004. Paul HENDERSON is very proud and excited for his daughter to have the same Olympic sailing experience that meant so much to him.

Jennifer PROVAN (CAN) is a first generation Olympian, but this is her second time at the helm. PROVAN steered the Canadian 470 Women's boat at the 2004 Athens Olympics Games.

Until the Games begin, their boat is named "Harry" after Martha's uncle who believed in PROVAN, HENDERSON and ABBOTT enough to make a significant financial contribution to their campaign at the point when they had no money. When he was asked how they could repay him, he whispered to Martha's mother, "It would be nice if they named the boat after me." The team that knows how valuable family is in making it to the Olympics granted his simple wish.
Olympic News Service
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