Sailweek got off to a difficult start last Saturday. High winds made the sailing exciting, but confusion with the windward mark spoiled the racing for many. The racing instructions called for a windward mark coloured yellow. Unfortunately, this mark had a yellow cover which slipped off and sank, revealing an orange mark. Way off in the distance, but perfectly to windward was a yellow mark, actually set by the R.St.L.Y.C. for a different race!
The entire Etchells fleet, the Sharks, and one Tanzer 22 (us on Ambitious) in PHRF III found the orange mark to windward, and went "huh?". So searching further, well in the distance the wrong but only yellow mark could be seen, and all the boats above sailed for that yellow mark, then followed by the entire white sail fleet. What a bummer! The race was ruined. The other Tanzer 22s, and Ariel, the Mirage 24, realized what had happened and rounded orange thereby getting a boost in the standings. Jake Fichten skippering the T22 Sine Wave had rounded the distant wrong mark as well, but realizing it was incorrect, dropped his spinnaker, rounded orange, raised a protest flag, then re-launched his chute and sailed for the finish.
The end result for that first race was devastating. John Linton with his Tanzer 22, Oasis, got first. Two Sharks who crossed first, but didn't complete the "correct course" were scored DNF. As for me, after the extra long distance sailed, our T22 crossed a little over 30 minutes after the first boat, thereby scoring DNF. Even worse, the start gun for the next race went off right after we crossed the finish line, thereby eliminating our participation in the second race. GROSS!
The Etchells and White Sails fleets having all sailed the wrong course had no protests and were all scored.
With great sailing and good strong Shark winds the three Sharks skippered by Tof Nicholl-Griffith, Don Osborne, and Peter Rahn shared the top three spots in the next two races. Jake Fichten's Sine Wave always does well in heavy air, and was the first T22 over in the last two races, followed by John Linton's Oasis as second T22.
T22's took the top three white spots overall. Jon Austen, sailing with only a #3 working jib, trounced the white sail fleet, winning overall, and with 2 bullets and a 2nd place. Helmut Langeder's Breezin' got a bullet too, and second overall. Laird Glass made the podium for third overall. However, the top three were admirably harassed by two Grampian 26's which also got by the T22's in some races.
A few Fireballs courageously did battle in the high winds, but only one took the bullets and completed each race, #14769.
The Etchells had some dramatic moments. I watched one spinnaker do an America's Cup style explosion in the heavy air. One second the Palfreeman boat was charging downwind, then bang, the chute completed separated into two pieces of cloth. David Lowther's spinnaker securely wrapped itself around the Etchell's keel in the other piece of drama. Luc Gloutney must be the God of high winds because he took all three races! Alan Gray from HYC took 2nd in each race. He was the local heavy air king in the Etchells Canadian Championship recently.