Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Coupe du Quebec 2014 Regatta Report

 Here is another excellent report from Jenn Davey keeping us up to date on the enthusiasm and racing in the growing Martin 16 class. Congrats on the new boat added to the local fleet too! - Ralph

It was an exciting weekend of racing at the Pointe Claire Yacht Club as the Association Québécoise de voile adaptée (AQVA) hosted the largest Coupe du Quebec in event history, welcoming 18 boats and 35 sailors from 7 clubs. Sailors arrived from Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and the Northeastern US for the two day event. The weekend kicked off with a special ceremony to christen AQVA’s newest addition to their fleet of club boats, a fifth Martin 16 purchased with the support of AQVA’s new corporate partner, Sperry Top–Sider. 
Saturday opened with moderate breeze for the Gold Fleet’s 17 competitors and race Committee fired off three efficient races. As is tradition, while the Gold Fleet raced, the Silver Fleet participated in a rules and tactics session on land, led this year by Tom Bird and Jenny Davey. In the afternoon, the Silver Fleet had their work out for them as the breeze built steadily, settling in around 17 knots with gusts pushing 23. The determination and boat handling were impressive, the companions worked hard to provide support, and there were many smiles to be seen after their two races were finished. 

Sunday brought a mix of conditions, starting with light and shifty breeze for the Silver Fleet’s only race of the day. Gold Fleet saw just about everything, starting with breeze in the 3-5 range, then picking up to more moderate conditions, followed by a quick squall that diminished visibility and brought heavy rain and strong, shifty breeze before the sun finally broke through at the end of the second race. The variable conditions made for exciting racing, and sailors who were able to maintain focus in the challenging conditions made big gains. 

In the end, the friendly rivalry between the host club and their “neighbours” from the Nepean Sailing Club (NSC) Able Sail team continued, with strong performances from both clubs in both fleets. Paul Rees of NSC took third place in Silver, with team mate Karell Regnier taking second. Guy Bergeron, of AQVA, took the top position in his first ever regatta. With the win, he also received the Peg Cup inaugurated at the prize-giving as the permanent trophy for the Silver Fleet winner, named in memory of longtime Coupe volunteer Peg Davey. Gold Fleet top honours and the Faye Schipper Cup went to AQVA’s Pierre Richard, who finished the 5-race series with 6 points after one drop. Second and third places were duked out between a pair of Shark sailors who have turned their attention to the Martin class, with Queen’s Quay Disabled Sailing/National Yacht Club’s Peter Eager taking second ahead of Richard Laxton (Nepean Sailing Club) in third.

As always, the staff, volunteer, and family support from all clubs involved was huge. A big thank you to the Pointe Claire Yacht Club, Principle Race Officer Katherine Bliss-Johnson, Dock Coordinator Paula Stone, Regatta Chair Matt Palardy, the AQVA staff and volunteers and the many out of town supporters who made the trip from near and far to ensure an excellent weekend of racing.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Where to learn to sail around Montreal

First thing you should know: there are keel boats and dinghies.

A keel boat is a sailboat with a heavy keel underneath.  It is stable in will not tip over. It usually has sleeping quarters, a toilet, a navigation station and a place to cook inside, but not always. Smaller keelboats are used for disabled sailors  

A dinghy is a lighter boat.  It will react faster, allowing you to experiment more with the wind. As all things are lighter, sails will be adjusted faster, and you will feel the acceleration from proper sail trim.

I strongly recommend learning how to sail on a dinghy, as it will take less time to understand where the wind is and how the basics work. You will have a head start once you get on a keel boat.  Learning to sail on a dinghy is also usually less expensive per hour. So if your time and money are scarce, you get double advantage: less time required, less time to learn the basics.

The Québec Sailing Federation  will give you a list of the sailing schools in the province.

Most Yacht clubs in Montreal offer sailing courses for adults on dinghies on weekday nights.  Ecole de voile de Lachine also offers introduction sailing classes on weekends on dinghies.

There are sailing schools that focus on keel boats. The program is known as learn to cruise. The Royal Saint Lawrence, Beaconsfield Yacht Club, Ecole de Voile Gilles Tetrault and Ynot sailing offer beginner lessons on keel boats. Ynot still have room in their 2 weekend introductory program that starts July 19.

There may be others, please tell me if there is information missing.

Friday, July 11, 2014

How to crew - a reader's letter

Hi Etienne,

I'm a 20 year old guy with basically zero sailing experience who would love to crew in some regattas, but I'm not sure where to start! I live near McGill, and don't have a car, so it would be a bonus if it was not too far.

Could you point me in the right direction, or offer any me any tips?


Hello Nathan,

There are lots of different ways to start sailing. Some read sailing adventure books and dream of inaccessible faraway places. Some want to participate in ocean crossing races.  Some look for a Tuesday night race on the lake followed by a beer.  I'll assume you're just looking for the fun sail on the lake.

Some people accept neophytes into their boats for racing, as long as a commitment is offered.   I started a Facebook group for that purpose, but for now it's still very small.

I recommend a boat with less people on board, you'll be doing more tasks. A 2 person boat means that you'll be doing everything the helmsperson (driver) cannot do, and that may be too much in a race for a beginner. The Fireballs at PCYC are active.

There are two 3 person boats active in Montreal: Sharks and Lightnings.  The Sharks have their own online group at Montreal Shark 

Most clubs have some sort of available crew list, you might want to register there. If you're a strong biker, you can take the Lachine canal bike path and stop at the 3 biggest yacht clubs, in Dorval, Pointe-Claire and Beaconsfield.  You can add Baie d'Urfé if you can bike over 80 km in the day.  All these clubs are accessible by 211 bus from Lionel Groulx metro.

You'll be more attractive to boat owners if you learn how to sail. You can also read about the owner's perspective. I'll write a post on how to learn in the Montreal area soon.

By the way, I'm also looking for opportunities for the Montreal Sailing communities project.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hard Lesson in light fluky air.

The Good Neighbours race June 24th was one of those races where you get bounced around in light, wacky winds.

Our team managed a good start not straying far from the start line in the last minute. The countdown of the last 20 seconds were spent holding a nice clear lane right at the line. Nastier situation for #324. They got caught out on course side before the start, and struggled too late in the light air to get behind the line before the gun. The wind was negligible from the north shore. We found a stream of light ripples on the water and followed it up and clear of the struggling fleet. We didn't even glance at the compass, sticking with wherever we could keep the boat moving.

When the stream of light moving air disappeared on the starboard tack, we switched to port, to hopefully use the current to bring us a little closer. Encore Une Fois which had been ahead on the left chose to stay the starboard course but ran out of gas. The current was pretty much the only thing working for us, but it helped. When we tacked back onto port, we found ourselves on a long lay line to the windward mark and the lead boat.

At the mark, we rounded first, with Yin & Yang asking for room at the mark. They were most certainly entitled, but we managed to squeeze around just clear and ahead. To round ahead, unfortunately required a less than optimal angle out the other side. The breeze had shifted, and we had to launch the spinnaker while moving too far off the optimal course. Yin & Yang managed to flip on to port more quickly than we could jibe our chute. Aaack, they took the clear windward advantage and walked away. The horrible part was not just losing the lead, but the parade of Sharks and other faster boats were then able to all move past us on the windward side. My mistake was not responding by accepting our fate and getting clear away. Instead of soaking to leeward for clear air, I opted to try and fight my way to windward. But with the wind now skewed in direction from the left side, the spinnaker would just collapse in the disturbed air. We got blanketed by boat after boat, and we could not move into a clear gap in the traffic. We got spanked for the error.

Painful lesson re-learned. Sometime the less optimal direction, sailing away on the longer course is still the best course available. Sailing farther, but moving more quickly, would have still meant losing to some competitors, but still beating others who sailed ahead. The tough part is, little time is afforded for making such tactical decisions. Don't be stubborn and unaccepting of your situation. React, or get chewed up and spat out the ass end of the fleet!

We rounded the leeward mark wounded badly, but struggled back into striking position on the final leg to the finish of three boats. Another big shift of the fluky wind came under cloud cover, and this time we were not slow to react. A quick jibe switched our position from behind to windward, and we nipped three boats at the finish. Team Ambitious finished 6th. Yin &Yang sailed brilliantly to win. Ketchup with George and Tof on board sailed from no air on the first leg to a magnificent recovery and third place, second Shark. In between Ben Waring sailed his Grampian into second place. Great to see Ben and crew breaking up the usual standings!

Tonight, we are expecting another light breeze moving from the north shore side, so it might be another crazy race.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Sailing from Montreal #4 with the complete family

When I started the year, I wanted to write about different sailing experiences around Montreal.  Some may argue that this one is too close to #2.  After all, I was on the same boat, with the same skipper.

Pointe-Claire Yacht Club is located in the heart of the Pointe-Claire village, a historical Francophone enclave in an English speaking suburb of Montreal.

When the engine didn't start, there was no panic.  After all, we are in Pointe-Claire, and there are fewer rules here than at Beaconsfield Yacht Club where sailing out of the harbor is frowned upon.  Sailing in and out of harbor is seen here as good seamanship.

What makes the difference this time is the crew.  My whole family is on board George's Shark, with Agnès the prettiest foredeck to grace Ketchup in years. George's son is also on board.

With a crew of 6, we could have sailed two Sharks.  What makes the experience bearable is that the older kids were captivated by tablet games inside the cabin.  With too many feet in the cockpit, releasing sheets gets risky, and sails go down painfully slowly.

George sailed masterfully well and shared the helm for the last run of the race with his son.  We finished second in our class, but the Tanzer 22 that passed us doesn't count, according to this boat owner.  We're really against the other Sharks.  There were at least 9 other Sharks on the race course, the most active boat on the lake.

Thanks George for the great sail and I'll miss you for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

La voile à Montréal #3 Coeur de Marin à La Prairie

Écrire cette série sur la voile à Montréal me permet de découvrir de nouveaux endroits pour naviguer.  Le bassin à côté du Quai de La Prairie me rappelle les meilleurs endroits où naviguer en région Parisienne.  Il y a des centaines de dériveurs à l'étang de Saint-Quentin en Yvelines, sur le bassin de Moisson-Lavacourt, ou encore plusieurs dizaines au Yacht Club de Paris à côté des Mureaux.  Tous ces endroits où naviguer sont en banlieue parisienne, à moins d'une heure du centre de Paris à minuit.  Le dimanche soir, il y a beaucoup de circulation et rentrer de ces endroits peut prendre plus de deux heures.

Revenons à Montréal.  Samedi le 7 juin, ce plan d'eau n'accueillait qu'un seul voilier, et plusieurs chaloupes de pêche.  Les navires commerciaux passent tout près dans le chenal séparé du plan d'eau par quelques îles. Yves Plante accueille tous les visiteurs intéressés par Coeur de Marin pour une journée de promotion.

Sa formule : offrir à prix attrayant la location à plusieurs de son magnifique dériveur ketch.  Le bateau est agréable à la voile.  C'est un dériveur de 25 pieds, avec deux mats gréés en cat-boat. Une rame est suffisante pour le propulser lorsque le vent manque.

Les deux grand-voiles à corne lui permettent d'atteindre une belle vitesse avec un petit vent.  Le plus surprenant et agréable: louvoyer ne nécessite pas de manœuvres d'équiper.  Louvoyer, c'est remonter le vent à voile.  C'est souvent ardu car sur un sloop, il faut changer la voile d'avant de côté.  Sur ce bateau, la grand voile à l'avant est sur un chariot.  Elle ne possède même pas de bôme.  Les virements de bord sont silencieux grâce aux lattes et sans danger, grâce à l'absence de bôme.  Le wishbone de la voile d'artimon est à surveiller lorsqu'on s'assoit derrière le barreur, ce qui n'est pas recommandé de toute façon.

Yves expliquera aux futurs membres de son club comment sortir le bateau et devenir autonome.  L'objectif est de sortir le bateau avec au moins deux personnes et que chaque membre soit suffisamment formé pour sortir le bateau avec un novice.

Il y aura une expédition de voile-camping cet été, l'endroit sera convenu avec les membres intéressés.

Merci à Yves pour cette jolie avant-midi sur l'eau.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

La voile à Montréal #2 mardi soir après l'orage

Il est 15h30, George m'appelle:"Il fait nuit au centre-ville." Les orages sont violents et inondent la ville.  Nous décidons d'aller à Pointe-Claire tout de même et de mettre le bateau à l'eau.  Il sera plus rapide de partir la prochaine fois.  La pluie diminue vers 17h30 et à 18h, il ne pleut plus.  David nous demande si nous sortons tout de même, le lac semble bien calme. 

Nos rivaux

Nous décidons d'étirer notre objectif d'aller jusqu'au quai et nous nous rendons jusqu'au départ juste à temps pour partir.  Je terminerai l'installation des écoutes de spi à la fin du bord de près. 

La division 1 sous spi devant le Mont Royal dans la brume

Finalement, une super belle soirée de voile! Le Club de Yacht de Pointe-Claire est à 24 minutes du Centre Bell en voiture et à 45 minutes de 211 de la station de métro Lionel-Groulx.  Ce n'est pas trop difficile d'y être pour 18h.

David et George

Monday, June 02, 2014

Cruise When Ya Can't Race

It was supposed to be Beaconsfield Yacht Club's Commodore's Bowl. It is the first significant "Trophy" race of the season. This had me itching to go. Team Ambitious had left harbour well in advance of the start, carefully rigged, loaded lots of water, there was plenty of sun. I had replaced a faulty cleat the night before. All was well. Although the wind was light, the forecast was for 9 knots or more when a shift came in. The race is one of the tours around the lake winding around various permanent marks. It looked like potentially a perfect afternoon.

The light wind dropped to a wisp just before the start, I opted for the shoreside, hoping for a little little land effect. Encore Une Fois and Yin & Yang went out to the middle of the lake. Initially they got far ahead. Sawiki also was well ahead on that side. That made Isurus antsy. They had been not far off our stern and tacked out. Sticking to the shore in the end got frustrating when the wind would only occasionally inch the boat forward. Sudden Impulse hung in just to our port side. We did manage to move father ahead probably more by current than anything else. Then we managed to catch a little air sliding along the sails and move along. Hey, then we easily slipped through the water. Sudden Impulse finally had opted to tack out, but we moved nicely forward and a little ahead of the fleet on the other side who were still floundering. With a long race ahead, the RC seeing most of the fleet still stuck in the middle fired three shots of the air cannon, cancelling the race. Yeesh, 4 races so far this spring and not a single one completed! 

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Oh well, I started the Iron Genny and intentionally set it for a slow, quiet ride home, then pulled out chilled beer as a consolation prize. The sun was brilliant, the heat mild, and at least we were back on the water. Three races the wind died, the other race lightening flashed. Here we are the beginning of June and not a finish line crossed.
Still, it felt good to be back out there after a long, tough winter. How pleased I was to be puttering slowly because it extended our afternoon outing. Before we got back to harbour, a lovely, consistent breeze swept over us. The others ahead, almost at BYC, motored to harbour. We shut the motor off, and tacked back out for a very pleasant sail thank you. What a perfect wind for the crew to have some time on the tiller. The wind was strong enough to move along at a good pace, yet not strong enough to spill our beers. We crisscrossed the lake several times, enjoyed a second frosty beverage, spotted Sue and Dom's new CS 34, and merrily chatted away. What good fortune we had to stay out. I had been so focused on trying to race, execute good starts, sail hard, that I forgot how delightful an easy cruise can be. Good company, an easy sail, little traffic, and bright sun add up to a great start of the season after all. Happy sailing everyone.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

La voile à Montréal et à proximité #1 Dans le vieux port!

Cette série se veut aussi une démonstration comme quoi il n'est pas nécessaire d'être propriétaire de bateau pour faire de la voile.  J'ai vendu mon bateau l'an dernier, et je vais naviguer sur les bateaux des autres cette saison et vous en parler ici. Je viens aussi d'ouvrir un groupe Facebook pour les Montréalais, l'objectif serait de rapprocher les propriétaires et les équipiers.

Il y a une option pour faire de la voile dans le vieux port.  Il y avait du vent dans le bassin, et si on évite la pluie, on peut même rester au sec.  Ce sont les bateaux télécommandés de Micro-Sail.

Cette voile fait comprendre les rudiments des manœuvres sans danger pour l'équipage.  Une manette permet de border et de choquer l'écoute, alors que l'autre permet de diriger le bateau.  Le tarif nominal est de 5$ pour 15 minutes.

Mon fils de 8 ans a beaucoup aimé cette expérience.  Le vent était fort et régulier, le plan d'eau était plat, des conditions idéales pour ces petits bateaux.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ambitious has first foray in 2014

After much bottom prep and some repairs, Team Ambitious went out for it's maiden sail of the season. It was the second scheduled race of the Spring Good Neighbour Series. Clouds were dark and it was chilly! Nevertheless the team was hyped to kick off the season. Collette did her usual middle position and Mike from the Encore Une Fois team joined us to work foredeck.

Getting out early is well known as a fact of good race prep. We tend to screw that all up too often and the start of the new season was no different. It took a little bit of time to get everything rigged right first time out. Then, the Sorceress team needed a tow out of harbour. That proved more difficult than expected. A deceptively strong north wind blew Ambitious alongside berthed boats as we struggled to get into towing position.  We finally got out to the start line just as the starting sequence ended and tailed the last boat across the pin end. Except, we were not going to make the pin and had to tack to cross well back of the fleet. Ugh! Lesson brutally re-visited, get out early!

The wind blowing from the north shore is almost always stronger than it looks. The waves are always flatter having less time to build over the short distance from shore. We were way over powered, but with a flat open mainsail we charged up the first leg. Collette called a tack a little below the lay line and we crossed the bow of Encore Une Fois about 400 metres from the mark. Two more tacks and we rounded the mark with Encore on our stern. We were rusty timing our helm and sail trim and in a powerful wind struggled to turn Ambitious round the mark too widely. Encore slipped inside with us one boat length ahead 30 seconds later. The crew launched the chute smoothly and we continued a powerful surge forward. With one well managed, high wind jibe we had a great downwind leg.

Lightening flashed to the west, and as many as 6 bolts at a time on the south shore. That compelled RC to cancel the race, and our first foray was done. It was good to shake out the cobwebs, and the team had a high wind lesson on where we need work. It was good to get the season started. Watch out folks, we will be on time and on the line for the warning signal Thursday!

Ralph S