Friday, October 13, 2006

Pas De Deux Race












I love this race, not entirely undue to my good luck in it! However, obvously I am not alone in appreciating this fun day, for 22 boats raced this year. For some sailors on Lac St. Louis, it is the last outing of the year. Many others already have their masts down. Many haul out for the winter after this last race. Adding to the special feeling is that few motorboats are in evidence to disturb the magic at this late time of year.

The Pas De Deux is for a skipper and one active crew only. Two sailors, two white sails, and a drag race from Pointe Claire to Dowker's Island and back, sometimes with a zig or a zag thrown in, if there is plenty of wind. It is a distance race using the pursuit format. That is, the slowest boats get to cross the start line first, and the successively faster boats start later, depending on their handicap rating. Everyone is then expected to finish around the same time regardless of their boat's speed, and this can be exciting.

The story of the Pas De Deux goes further. This is a race, and so of course many are competing passionately. It is also for fun and to raise participation. So, points are alloted not only by ranking the finish times, but also by how many boats participate from each club. The club accumalating the most points wins the trophy. For many, it may be a race, but it is also simply that last wonderful sail up and down Lac St. Louis. Jim Rowlandson has been the inspirational and organizational force behind this race for the five consecutive years it has been held. Thanks Jim for extending our season!

This year, the race was run in very light wind, which is great news for the smaller boats. Yachts with a long waterline can't stretch their legs as much without the necessary wind. As a result, the Tanzer 22, Shark, and Mirage 24 classes were able to break through the longer boats, and mix it up at the finish. Erica Moore pointed out a big decision had to be made early in the race: drive straight towards the windward mark over the mid-river current, or ride the more circuitous route near land where the shore breeze increased the pace. A lot of the race was close hauled, even after rounding the windward mark. Nevertheless, it's still often at least a little off the wind, and this point of sail off light wind also helps the boats with masthead rigs and big genoas. Hence, these advantages combined with the incredible sailing skills on Ambitious, helped the Tanzer 22 squeeze between two Etchells at the finish. Indeed, I will argue that we might have even given the mighty little boat a first place flag had it not been for a human gaffe!

After rounding the windward mark, we noticed the race committee boat moving towards that previous mark and stopping nearby. We then noticed the crash boat doing likewise. Gasp! It looked like they had moved the finish line to near the mark we had already rounded for a shortened course. The fallible humans argued over whether the course had been shortened, then turned the eager little boat around and headed back straight towards the tailing fleet. Hmm... the other boats rounding the mark did not turn towards the committee boat. Yikes, the race committee was only taking photos! We turned again, and headed to Pointe Claire and the finish once again. I could only laugh and hope that our lead had not been fatally diminished. Laurence on the other hand was not laughing. Then again, when racing she rarely does!

Brian and Madeleine Palfreeman did manage to ride the current by us to lead near the end. However then, the course really was shortened, and they found themselves on a less speedy point of sail to the relocated finish. Pierre Jasmin had been quietly working slightly stronger wisps of wind nearer shore, and nipped by on our left for the gun. Then, we crossed, followed by Ben and Lin, and the Palfreemans - all four boats each separated from the other by a few boatlengths after hours of racing.

Michel Roch and Luc Vallee had the impossible task of racing the biggest, fastest boats in insufficiently very light winds, and with a starting time that was not till almost 24 minutes after the scratch boat! It was great to see these and some of the other big boats out on the race course.

Below is results data in order of place, skipper's name, boat name, boat class, sail #, start time from scratch, club. PCYC won the trophy!

  1. Pierre Jasmin, Vivace, Etchells, 699, 17:14.0, PCYC
  2. Ralph Stocek, Ambitious, T22, 92, 01:31.0, BYC
  3. Ben l'Esperance, Vim, Etchells, 558, 17:14.0, PCYC
  4. Brian Palfreeman, Tactic, Etchells, 305, 17:14.0 PCYC
  5. Paul Lhotsky, Andanzas, Laser 28, 211, 18:49.0, RStLYC
  6. Toff Nichol Griffith, Shark, 1465, 00:00.0, PCYC
  7. Tony McBride, Fast Company, J80, 148, 21:11.0, PCYC
  8. Luc Gloutney, Allegro, Etchells, 956, 17:14.0,PCYC
  9. Patrick Flaherty, Tara 2, Aloha 8.2, 58, 02:00.0, RStLYC
  10. Peter Vatcher, Wayward Wind, T22, 1487, 01:31.0, PCYC
  11. Laird Glass, Oasis, T22,183, 01:31.0, PCYC
  12. Allan Rheaume, Drumroll, C&C30-II, 30090, 10:41.0, RStLYC
  13. Erica Moore, Ariel, Mirage 24, 123, 02:59.0, PCYC
  14. John Macleod, Chinook, Mirage 24, 250, 02:59.0, PCYC
  15. Ron Cornelow, Karibel, Mirage 27-1, 18, 03:38.0, RStLYC
  16. Gerry McGee, Dazzle, C&C29 2, 84184, 11:42.0, RStLYC
  17. Stephan Blais, Premature Grey, J24, 4260, 12:42.0, PCYC
  18. Andre Turenne, Farr 38, 25:00.0, RStLYC
  19. Mike Guay, Fat Cat, Catalina 25, 4924, 02:00.0, PCYC
  20. Dan O'connell, My Wind Lass, C&C32, 63034, 13:30.0, PCYC
  21. Luc Vallee, Le Loup Marin, Elite 364, 54350, 18:49.0, RStLYC
  22. Michel Roch, Stargazer XX, C&C36+, 50640, 23:59.0 RStLYC

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