A PASSION FOR SAILING FROM A YOUNG AGE
How One's Passion Influenced Their Move To The Pacific North West
A passion for sailing brought this enthusiastic 26 year old sailor from Nakhodka, Russia to Vancouver, British Columbia. Learn how Alexander Levkovskiy's passion developed from a young age and still brings him great joy in life. Local North Sails expert Drew Mitchell caught up with Alexander to learn his story.
How did you get into the sport of sailing and how old were you?
When I was a kid my family had a Carter 30 sailboat. I spent a lot of time on it going out cruising and doing some clubhouse racing. Then at the age of 7 I started to sail an Opti.
Everybody has a sailing role model growing up, who was yours and why did you look up to him?
Can’t say that I had a role model but I had a group of sailors who I was keeping eye on. Top 3 on my list were: Dean Barker, Karol Jablonski and Ben Ainslie. All of those guys were incredibly talented match racers and I have been in love with match racing ever since I saw the America’s cup finals in 2003.
What dinghies are most popular in Vladivostok, which ones did you sail/race?
The most popular are Optis, Cadets, Lasers and 420’s. I went through Opti, two-person dinghy Cadet, Laser 4.7 / Radial. When I turned 18 keel boats took me over.
What is the racing scene like in Vladivostok and what are the popular keel boats to race? Which one did you enjoy racing on the most and why?
You can sail 6-7 months a year before it gets too cold and then you can sail ice boats. Summer racing schedule is pretty good. Wednesday nights start in the middle of May and finish in late August. You can find a regatta to sail almost every week. They can be as short as 2 days and be up to a week. As winter season comes and the bay gets covered in ice you can sail Ice Optis and DN’s. Ice boats are great to learn how apparent wind works and can go pretty quick. I would definitely recommend trying it!
Two main one design fleets are Conrad 25R’s and Platu 25’s. This year guys got into Melges 20’s and it sounds like this fleet is going to grow. Also various sizes and types for boats in the ORC fleet. I really enjoyed sailing the Platu 25, great design by Bruce Farr. It feels like a big dingy, requires physical work and the fleet is super tight!
After University you decided to move to Canada, you got yourself on the Vancouver racing scene pretty quickly. Are there many differences between racing in Vladivostok to racing in Vancouver?
Can’t say that it’s super different. Maybe not as many windward leeward races. The biggest difference is that the season never stops. You can sail 12 month a year but it can be a little bit chilly in January. Also it’s pretty awesome that you can go sailing, skiing and mountain biking on the same day.
What do you find the most challenging part of racing in Vancouver and around PNW?
Tide and current. Local knowledge is a huge factor in the coastal races here. You better have good instruments on the boat so that you can keep track of those things.
What is your favorite race in the PNW and why?
Can I pick two? Southern Straits and the outside legs of Van Isle 360. Both races delivered great weather and champagne downwind sailing when I was doing it. Local guys say it can be pretty rough and wet weather sometimes but I’ve been lucky.
You joined the Wet Coast Sailing Team, Melges 24 team based in Victoria, in 2018. You guys have had quite the success on the race course. Could you list off some of your results?
As a team we sailed pretty much all the events of the V.I.R.C ( Vancouver Island Race Series) in 2018-2019 and pretty much all one design events available in the Pacific Northwest. I guess the biggest achievement for the team was winning the Corinthian division/ 5th overall in North American championships in 2019 which was held in Traverse City, Michigan.
You would travel to Victoria almost every weekend to train with the team. You must really like your teammates. Who are they and can you list off everyone's position on the boat?
I did so many ferry rides that potentially I could become a BC Ferry shareholder! But it's 100% worth it when you have such an incredibly good group of guys! We always have a lot of fun on and off the water.
Alright I’ll start stern to bow: Fraser McMillan is our skipper, Aidan Koster does tactics, Keegan Moynihan trim and me as the lightest but most hungry guy on the boat do bowman/floater. At least this was how we planned to sail 2020 Worlds but with the pandemic and world changes we may have some changes to come too.
With most all big Melges 24 events canceled what other sailing/racing have you been up too?
It was frustrating to realize that sailing season was not going to be as exciting as planned but I’ve been doing some online sailing! Even organized a virtual regatta during Easter weekend in April. It was fun to experience the Race Committee job on a virtual course; glad I didn’t have to move marks all the time. Since we didn’t have much racing going on I got the opportunity to do some cruising with some of my closest friends and see some cool places. It was a great feeling to sail downwind while cooking steaks on the barbecue! I know that team won’t allow me to do that on M24 when racing is back on so I enjoyed that moment.
You also co-own Martin 242 with your Dad. Looks like you guys have done some upgrades since the purchase. What's your guys plan with this?
When we got the boat it was desperately looking for some upgrades! The majority of the jobs were done at the deck level: running rigging, standing rigging, hardware, some fibreglass work and other things. More upgrades to come!
The plan for 2020 was to make the boat able to compete on the race course, do some day time cruising in English bay and race it. The boat did its first official race in October and it felt pretty good. I had a great opportunity to have my buddies from North Sails Vancouver on board and heard their opinion about how we can improve the boat and sails and make it ready for the Nationals in Nanaimo next year. That’s about it.
Are you following the Vendee Globe? Who are you cheering for and why?
I do! Cheering for everyone in the fleet. You have to be a super tough sailor to do this kind of race so I support all of them and wish them fair winds.
Last fun question: If you could buy any boat in the world and race it what boat would you purchase and why? Also who would you buy your sails off?
Oh that’s easy, a TP 52 built by Botin Partners powered by North Sails. Your phone number would be on speed dial; It is a high performance fleet with great sailors in it. As you know dreams come true, so maybe one day.