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HMCS Oriole makes a splash during SailGP race weekend 

Sailors and special guests aboard Oriole were also treated to a great view of sailing action in the harbour.

HMCS Oriole makes a splash during SailGP race weekend 

The 2024 crew of HMCS Oriole.

By Nathan Stone,
Trident Staff 

Thousands of sailing enthusiasts who flocked to the Halifax waterfront for an international sailing competition June 1-2 were greeted in part by the crew of His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Oriole. 

Oriole took to the water as the flagship in the spectator fleet for SailGP as the international catamaran race came to Halifax. Representing the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) at the event, Oriole was berthed at the waterfront between races, where the crew offered tours to the public.  

Oriole arrived alongside the pier at Sackville Landing on May 31 so the crew could begin their public outreach prior to the race weekend. The Commanding Officer of HMCS Oriole, Lieutenant Commander (LCdr) Gregg Morris, said that representing the RCN to the public was Oriole’s “primary tasking”. 

One of the sailors leading those tours and outreach efforts was Sailor 3rd Class (S3) Gabriel Gorham, who joined the ship’s company in April. He said that he enjoyed sharing his knowledge and passion for the ship with the public. 

“I feel very blessed to be able to be here talking to the beautiful people of Halifax in uniform. It’s a very rewarding experience.” 

When the races began on Saturday afternoon, Oriole took up position at the head of a fleet of civilian sailboats that had come to spectate. Aboard was a special guest, Brian Gooderham, who’s great grandfather George H. Gooderham had Oriole built as a flagship for the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in 1921. Gooderham was aboard to watch his son Billy Gooderham race in the SailGP as a member of Team Canada. 

The SailGP is an international series of grand prix sailing races; the Halifax event featured teams from ten nations, including Canada. Teams race on specially made catamarans and compete for points to qualify for a season championship. The Halifax race weekend, officially titled the Rockwool Canada Sail Grand Prix, was the first time a Sail GP event has been held in Canada. 

The weekend featured five fleet races with all teams included, and one final match between the top three. Team Emirates Great Britain won first place, while Team Canada finished in a three-way tie for fourth place. 

The race weekend kicked off HMCS Oriole’s sailing season. Over the coming months it will visit ports around Atlantic Canada, with stops in each of the Atlantic provinces.  

“We’re doing local sails for the first half of the summer, so local to Halifax and Nova Scotia. The second half of the summer we start to reach out a little bit further,” said LCdr Morris. The ship will be in Charlottetown, PEI July 26-27, St. John’s, NL August 3-5, and Saint John, NB August 31-September 2. 

Oriole’s sailing season is five months long and LCdr Morris says that most sailors will spend the full season with the ship before moving on. Petty Officer 2nd class (PO2) Lindsay Hansen, the ship’s Buffer, said that the opportunity to serve aboard Oriole is a highly sought after posting that offers a unique experience. 

“You never know what sailing is really like until you’re actually pulling the lines, moving the sails, filling them with the wind and feeling the ship move because you’ve moved the sheets. It’s a completely different experience from sailing on any other class.”