Smooth Sailing Nothing New for Olympic Bound Trent Student

September 13, 2019

Trent Masters student Justin Barnes wins bronze at 2019 Pan-Am Games

Trent Masters student Justin Barnes with his sailing teammate Alex Heinzemann
Photo credit: Ken Dool. Photo of Trent Masters student Justin Barnes with his sailing teammate Alex Heinzemann.

With his Masters in Sustainability Studies secured and a Pan American Games medal in his pocket, Trent Masters student Justin Barnes is now eyeing the podium in sailing at the 2020 Olympic Games. The Trent student has been competing at the highest athletic level in sailing with Team Canada throughout his academic career.

With his competitive sailing teammate Alex Heinzemann of Vancouver, Mr. Barnes competed this past July at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. The pair captured the bronze medal in the 49er class, helping Canada win a country berth at the 2020 Olympics. Ahead for the pair are trials set by Sail Canada to determine who will represent the country in Tokyo next summer. 

Coming to Trent in 2009 to pursue his undergraduate degree in Geography, Mr. Barnes recently fulfilled the requirements for his Masters in Sustainability Studies at Trent, and has been able to simultaneously pursue his passions for sailing and creating a more sustainable world. He credits his Trent professors, in particular Dr. Heather Nicol, for keeping him firmly on track.

“Having professors that genuinely care about my goals and ambitions has had a huge impact on me and has allowed me to pursue them,” says Mr. Barnes.

Upon completion of his undergraduate degree, Mr. Barnes devoted his attention to training full-time for the 2016 Olympics but Trent was never far from his mind, his intention being to return at some point.

"Professor Nicol encouraged me to consider completing a Masters degree to pursue my interests in the Arctic,” says Mr. Barnes who did just that in 2016 and, earlier this year, completed an internship at the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

“Trent has equipped me with the tools to understand and integrate multiple perspectives into problem solving. I have learned that what sustainability means is entirely dependent on one’s perspective and that there are multiple ways of understanding the world around us. I hope to make a positive environmental difference in Canada’s North and around the world.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Barnes, and his sailing partner, are looking to be the top Canadian team at the 2020 World Championships in Australia and the Princess Sofia Regatta in Spain.

“We’re committing ourselves full-time from now until the Olympics with the goals of winning the Canadian trials and achieving Canada’s best ever result in the 49er (event) at the Olympics.”