Nova Scotia brothers join Canada's Olympic sailing team
'It's kind of been a whirlwind for us,' says Jacob Saunders, 24
It's a long way from Nova Scotia's South Shore to Rio de Janeiro, but it's a trip about to thrill Jacob and Graeme Saunders of Chester.
The brothers were named to Canada's Olympic sailing team on Thursday night.
"This is something we've been working towards for more than five years, so it's pretty incredible," said Graeme Saunders, 25. "To have it all come together now, it's a pretty surreal experience."
The Saunders brothers will compete in the men's two person 470 boat division.
Currently in the United Kingdom taking part in the Weymouth World Cup, the next few months will be hectic for them.
They will return to Nova Scotia following the race on the English Channel.
But they will only be home for two weeks because they will be leaving for South America for three weeks of training on the Olympic course in Brazil.
The brothers grew up in a community known for sailing. Every summer, Chester Race Week sees hundreds of sailors make their way to the small village.
"The whole Chester community, the Nova Scotia sailing community, the squadron at the Chester Yacht Club and its membership, they've all been supportive from the start," said Jacob Saunders, 24. "That's made all the difference for us."
Jacob and Graeme were home in Chester with their parents when they got the news they made the Olympic team. The next day they were on a plane headed for the UK.
"It's kind of been a whirlwind for us the last 24 hours," said Jacob.
"It's pretty phenomenal, and it's been incredible hearing from everyone who has reached out to us and it's been a really cool experience."
Sailing competitively since 2009
The brothers teamed up to sail competitively in 2009. Jacob takes the helm, while Graeme holds the position of crew.
The 470 is an Olympic-class dinghy, and is highly dependent on teamwork to sail well.
A 7th place finish at a recent World Cup event in Miami went a long way toward securing their Olympic selection.
They hope to improve on that result next week as they continue to prepare for the biggest sailing event of their lives later this summer in Rio.