Friday, September 02, 2005

Montrealers go to Chester Race Week

Chester Race Week, one of the biggest regattas, biggest parties the Maritimes has seen. We were there. Guylaine Bosse, Laird Glass and Dominic Haines joined me for an extraordinary 4 days of racing in Nova Scotia's Mahone Bay. The Tanzer 22 Class Association designated Chester as one of the stops on the Canadian Championship Series. This is the first time we had raced our Tanzer 22 on the ocean. Yep, it is different! First of all, we’re used to cruising up and down the start line, checking the wind, and looking for the windward mark. That’s usual racing in Montreal on short sausage courses on the St. Lawrence River. Not the norm for Chester Race Week though.

Typically, competitors would need get passed islands and shoals, and on some days, thick fog. Before reaching the first of many marks. At Chester Race Week, there is only one race a day which lasts a good part of the day. This was a bit of culture shock for me. We got very lost! Fortunately, more than half the competitors on our course also got mixed up with the variety of racecourses and similar colour flags denoting them. While we were the only competitors honest enough to report to the race committee that we did not complete the course, the committee scratched the race.

While we did some serious partying in the evenings, the next morning, we spent all our time preparing for the next race. Chart, GPS, pens, and papers. A darn good thing too, the second race was sailed in thick fog. Yikes! Another first for me. A GPS for this type of racing is essential to do well. It's also a little disconcerting to have Benneteau and J 44's barrelling out of the fog at you. A good set of lungs for yelling starboard, and a horn are more essential tools. We did well for us, placing 5th of 14 boats.

The third day was perfect weather, and getting the hang of this stuff, we managed to beat some bigger faster boats again. The fourth day, the Tanzer fleet, including us was smoking most of the competitors. Up at the front, all Tanzers except for a lone Cal 28, the wind pooped on the last leg. The race was scratched. We still managed to return under sail. Too bad, since the Tanzers had an amazing battle, duking it out all the way. Perfect navigation, tactical sailing, and close quarters on a big, long course. Great stuff!

5 Tanzer 22's made this regatta, so it will count towards the Championship. Next year, if we have 6 boats, we'll have our own start line.

Chester Race Week Link