Justin Ladha’s lifelong connection to sailing began alongside his grandfather in the waters of Conception Bay. From those early days to competing across Canada, the US, and Europe, his journey in this sport has been both a personal and professional odyssey. As the CEO of KMK Capital and the appointed Commodore for the 2025 Canada Games, Ladha embodies the fusion of lessons learned at sea with his strides in the business world.
“Competing at a high level is a lot of hard work and you realize the harder you work, the better you can do, and I think that translates into life in general.”
Ladha has been to five Canada Games as an athlete and a coach. The first time was in 1993 for sailing followed by a Canada Winter Games as a competitive squash player. He earned a bronze medal at the 2001 Summer Games in the double-handed laser, a style of sailing.
Sailing has been a staple of the Canada Summer Games since 1969 (except 1973) and has featured various disciplines, including boats with one, two, or three participants on board. In 2025, athletes will compete in single-handed laser and double-handed 29er racing at the Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club in Conception Bay.
When it comes to competing in the sport, it's a multifaceted challenge. Ladha emphasizes the need for comprehensive understanding, physically and mentally - from mastering sailboat mechanics to tactically adjusting sails with wind and wave nuances, anticipating weather shifts, and decoding tidal flows.
“It’s a really fun sport and it’s a full, well-rounded sport.”
The rugged conditions of Newfoundland’s east coast present an added challenge. Ladha notes the sea is harsher than anywhere else in the country and perhaps all of North America. Coupled with the extremely cold northeast waters, local athletes are dealing with difficult training grounds.
“I remember being on the water in a dinghy at the end of April, that’s not pleasant, it’s so cold, versus if you’re in southern Ontario. In order to get time in the boat, because it’s all about time in the boat, you have to do that or you have to travel, which is also challenging, “ added Ladha.
A unique aspect of sailing in 2025 is the location. Instead of being far removed from other Games venues, the Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club is only a mere 20-minute drive from downtown St. John’s. Not only that, spectators will be able to watch the regatta from the shore or inside the yacht club.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the Canada Games racers and for the country to be watching - seeing our club, seeing Conception Bay and seeing what fantastic hosts I know we’ll be,” said Ladha. “I think the athletes are going to be introduced to challenging yet really exhilarating conditions and it’s a great venue for spectators. I can’t wait and I’m thrilled to be the commodore for that year.”
Hosting the Canada Games leaves behind many legacies for the communities and participating sports, including facility upgrades to growth in registration numbers. Something Ladha feels will undoubtedly happen after 2025.
“I think that’ll be the case for sailing and all sports that are involved. I think it’s a great opportunity that all those respective sports should really leverage.”
For Ladha, after five Canada Games, the Opening Ceremonies are a memory that stands out to him. It’s the feeling of walking into the stadium and the anticipation of representing your province that makes it a truly unique experience. The Canada Games are a moment for everyone to spark greatness and 2025 will be no different.
“We can’t wait to welcome you. We have the best spot to sail in the country.”