Sailing boat

Marty Essig

Inducted by Dot Blandford  

  • Marty Essig was part of the original Optimist Dinghy program started by a group of parents at RHYC in 1984. Other kids in that program included Jeremy, Tory, and Gabe Crowder, Stephen Mazza, Adam Dunn, Kate Nelson, Jenny and Colin McQuistan, Jessica Broe-Vayda, Cam Farrell, Adam and Sarah Scott, Heather Ormerod, Allister Benson, Jason Jullien, Johnny Vickers, Kate McIsaac, Claudia Stroebele,  and many more.
  • The program was so successful that the many Opti-Moms and Opti-Pops of RHYC took on the incredible challenge of hosting the North American Championships only two years after the start of the program.
  • All the young people involved in the Optimist program would win sailing accolades of their own, and grow up to be exceptional individuals.
  • But it would be Marty Essig who would take his sailing abilities to the ultimate achievement of gaining a place on the Canadian Olympic team.
  • Marty was 9 years old when he started sailing Optimists at RHYC, competing in the Optimists World Championships in France in 1988 and Japan in 1989.
  • He graduated to Lasers in 1990, and immediately won the OSA “16 and under”, and was 2nd in the “18 and under”.
  • In 1991, at 16 years of age, Marty won the “16 and under” and “18 and under” single handed championships, the “18 and under” double handed, and the “19 and under” triple handed!
  • His International sailing continued, competing in the IYRU World Youth Championships in Portugal, and finished 2nd in the Miami Orange Bowl Regatta, then 2nd in the Canadian Youth Championships, Bronze in the Canada Summer Games, 1st in the Miami Orange Bowl, winning the Lightening Class Canadian Championships, and the Lightning World Youth Championships. 
  • After entering Mechanical Engineering at Queens, he continued his competitive sailing, finishing 1st in the Canada Games. It should be noted, in that year, the entire Ontario team at the Canada Games came from RHYC, with all winning medals, Three Gold and one Bronze. Then, sailing for Queens, he won the North American Collegiate Championships.
  • Marty set his sights on the Olympics and qualified at the World Championships in Dubai, then won the Canadian National Team Qualifier in Halifax, and competed in the World University Games in Spain, Kiel Week in Germany, and the World Championships in Australia. 
  • In 2000 he won the Olympic Trials in Kingston, finished 8th at Kiel Week, and won CORK, before competing in the Olympics in Sydney, Australia, where he finished 24th out of 43.

  •  A remarkable sailing career.
  • Marty now lives in Switzerland with his wife Agi, and children Natalie and Maximillian.
  • After the Olympics, Marty followed a similar path of a lot of Olympic athletes, including his fellow RHYC Hall of Fame colleagues John Robertson and Larry Scott.
  • That is, after the all-consuming efforts of competitive sailing, culminating with the Olympics, it was now time to refocus on his own young family, and establish a career outside of sailing. So at about the same age as John and Larry, Marty too walked away from that level of competition. However, much like John and Larry, Marty too is being drawn back into sailing, in his case with, and by, his children. They sail on Lake Murten, near their home in Switzerland, and Marty has entered a number of international races organized by the Swiss National Sailing League, and coaches Lasers at his local sailing club every week.
  • Living so far away, Marty unfortunately could not be with us tonight, but it is my pleasure to present the RHYC Hall of Fame plaque to Marty’s parents, Rolf and Betty Essig.
  • Rolf, of course, is a past Commodore of RHYC and a recent recipient of the Commodore Palmer trophy for his contributions to revitalizing the Optimist program at RHYC, a trophy which Rolf and Betty also won in the 1980s with the founding of the Optimist program.
Rob Mazza
Chair, RHYC Heritage Committee