Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Voile Quebec Certified Race Management Course

Ross Tellier, a top race officer himself, and an excellent instructor will be giving this course. The 2 days will cover organizing racing for levels 1 & 2. Ross' profession was teaching and his course is superbly organized, highly informative, and Ross makes sure the material is clear. I took this course last year and was very impressed. $65 gets you Ross Tellier (which makes it a bargain by itself), the rule book, CYA notes, and refreshments. It is indeed a great deal. If you simply want to help out with club races, or you want to go on to major regattas, this is the place to start.

  • April 14th-15th, 9:00-16:00, at the Hudson Yacht Club in english;
  • Avril 21-22, Hudson Yacht club en français;
  • Juin 21-22, à Rimouski en français;
  • Other dates to be announced.
Contact Ross via email:

Thursday, March 22, 2007

North U Race Tour Seminar

North U will be holding one of its seminars at the RStLYC again this year. The North U "Race Tour" consists of both the North U. Racing Trim Seminar and the North U Racing Tactics Seminar. The Trim Seminar will focus on boat speed and boat handling. The Tactics Seminar will focus on Strategy, Tactics and Rules. For full course descriptions, outlines, prices, and how to sign up, click on the title. Sign up for one or both seminars being held Saturday, March 24th and Sunday, March 25th. I can tell you that the material is organized on the principle that winning races follows preparedness on different fronts. Those levels of preparedness can be viewed as a pyramid with the foundation being preparation. going up the pyramid the ingredients for success are boat handling, boat speed, and tactics. Within that structure the course covers starting, the different race course legs, trim for different wind conditions and so on. I remember it as being a lot of material crammed in, much of it the basics. It was an excellent review for most people. North rep, Geoff Moore will be giving the seminar again this year.

The instructors are very good, but I like the reading material best. The costs are high, but the texts are simple to read with plenty of graphics. Of course you can go back to the texts at any time, and I do. Here is an excerpt from the text on "Defending your Position" on the downwind leg:

"There are several techniques you can use to protect your position and to prevent others from passing you... Establish a windward position... As you start down the leg, immediately establish a position a boat length or two to weather. This can save you many boat lengths and lots of hassling later. It is much more effective than waiting to see if anyone attacks, and then responding. Setting up early sends the message: you aren't going by, at least not on the windward side...."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sharkies will hold N.A. Championship in Kingston

The Shark Class will be holding their international championship in Europe this year. That means the top regatta in Canada will be the North American championship at the Kingston Yacht Club, August 4th, 5th, and 6th. For further info contact Paul Davis at

Sunday, March 18, 2007

MC Scow Midwinters, Lake Eustis Sailing Club, March 15-17, 2007

Image from MC Scow website. click title for more.

How interesting it would be for old monkeys to consider the dinghy classes we could sail in Montreal. That makes this article by William Hendershot timely!

For those of you who don’t know what an MC is (and I expect there are a lot of you) I’ll give a brief intro. The MC is a scow, which is a flat bottomed, round chined boat 16 feet long, weighing 420 lbs. Given its weight, size and shape it is very stable so you can actually walk around on the deck – even the bow without any danger of tipping over (try that on a Laser or Finn and see how fast you go swimming). The MC is normally singlehanded until over about 12 mph when you can take on a crew. You can decide before each race whether you need a crew or not and there is usually a spectator boat available to leave you crew if you decide you don’t need one. This seems strange, but it really makes the boat more suitable for a wide range of people. Light people like me, most women and kids, can pick up a crew and be competitive in heavy air while big people (like Alain) can sail without a crew and actually have an advantage in light wind because they can make the boat heel more than light skippers can. Heeling the boat is good because it tips it up on the side and gets the big flat part of the boat out of the water, decreasing surface area. There are also twin centerboards that are called leeboards so you have to raise the windward one and drop the leeward one each time you tack or jibe. The MC is one of the most popular boats in the US with about 80 boats at major regattas.

The story actually began in January – I was hoping to be able to sail in this regatta but getting my own MC to Florida was going to be complicated since I expected to trail my Star down to the Bacardi in Miami the previous week. In the end we had the chance to sail Philippe Hofer’s new Star but in the meantime, I had arranged to borrow an MC that was already at Lake Eustis Sailing Club. Bruce Miller had an MC for sale at LESC and when I contacted him to ask if I could rent his boat he replied that he would be happy to lend it to me – very cool guy. However, whenever you borrow a boat for a regatta you can expect a few surprises, and this was no different.

On the day before the regatta began I took a look at my ride, MC 1626. It looked almost exactly like my own boat in terms of layout, but it was a bit more run down. When I went out for a test sail I found that the leeboards went too far up and down and then jammed in the slots. To fix this I had to put in a longer rope so I could put knots in appropriate places to keep the movement of the board limited. Otherwise everything looked okay.

Day 1, Race 1

Thursday morning I got to the club just as the skipper’s meeting was winding up – if I hadn’t gone to get my Starbuck’s coffee I would have been on time, but then I wouldn’t have had my coffee. I’ll try to get going a little earlier tomorrow. Got the boat in the water with my new ZMAX main since the forecast was for 5-8 mph. As I headed out I realized that the forecast was a bit off – the wind was more in the 12+ range and I should have used my flatter sail – an old AP that is still in good shape. Halfway to the starting area the tiller extension came apart in my hand. That was a complete surprise because it had worked fine the day before – I should have taken off the masking tape to see why it was there I guess. I decided to sail the race anyway and used a piece of small rope to try to hold the extension together for the race. It sort of worked but at least once on each beat it came apart and I ended up sailing with just a piece of rope to hold onto. That wouldn’t be bad except that an MC has almost no helm (depending on how much it is healing) and so you end up trying to push on the piece of rope – doesn’t work!

Got to the start area and checked out the course and line. The line seemed pretty square and there were fewer boats at the port end, so that is where I decided to start. It was now blowing close to 15 which is more wind than I had ever done a race in an MC. Due to the distraction of the tiller extension, I didn’t get up on the line soon enough and got left in the second row at the start. Things were definitely not looking good but I just tried to find lanes and get around the course without getting into too much trouble. I was definitely overpowered most of the time and even hiking hard and maxing the vang, I didn’t really feel that I was getting in the groove most of the time. I did remember one of the key lessons from the tuning guide - never cleat the main when it is blowing. As a puff hits, you can let the main out about a foot and then bring it back in as you get back under control. That way the boat doesn’t round up and stall (or dump). As time went on I got more comfortable with the wind and boat. I finished 52nd – not great, but not last. Lesson learned: check the equipment more carefully.

Race 2

The MC class knows how to treat people so we went in for lunch after the first race – I didn’t really have time to eat much, but I did install the spare universal joint that I (almost) always have with me when I go to a regatta. I also put on the AP main so I would be in more control. On the way out to the start I realized that the wind was dropping – great – I had my light air sail for the heavy air race and my heavy air sail for the light wind races. So it goes.

Before they started the sequence it looked like the starboard end of the line was favored. However, it looked like there was a bit more wind close to the shore at the port end, so that’s where I decided to set up. It was a really good move because during the 5 minute sequence the wind went seriously left and the port end was favored big time. I was down there with the guy who ended up winning the race. After a couple of minutes on starboard I could see that I could tack and clear all the boats on my hip, so I did. Worked the left side up the beat and rounded 6th! Now this was more like it. Downwind I lost a bit of distance to the boats ahead of me but didn’t really lose more than 1 or 2 places. Up the next beat things stayed pretty much the same, but a couple of the faster boats caught me. On the last beat, the wind crapped out just before the finish line and it was a gamble as to whether it would fill in from the left or the right. I chose right, the wind came in first on the left – I finished 16th. Although it was frustrating to lose places on every leg, it was still a good feeling to be sailing at the front of the fleet for a change.

Race 3

The starting line looked much like it did in the second race, except there were a lot more boats trying to find a place on the line. This time I was determined to get up on the line and things were looking good until about 15 seconds before the start when someone reached down on top of me – ignored my “request” that he get up and totally screwed my start. After about 40 seconds I tacked onto port and with a couple of small ducks managed to clear the starboard tackers and got across to the right side of the course in clear air. That was a pretty good comeback from a bad start and I was somewhere near mid fleet by the time I got to the windward mark. The rest of the race was tricky with lots of shifts and differences in pressure between the sides of the course. I tried to keep looking around to see where I should be, but it wasn’t easy to predict where I should go. On the last beat I made a couple of bad guesses and lost a few boats to finish 41st. I think my speed would have been a bit better with the ZMAX main, but most of my problems were related to going the wrong way and getting messed up at the start. After 3 races I’m in 38th place – just a bit better than 50%. Halfway through the regatta – which is supposed to be 6 races that is pretty good. Unfortunately the weather forecast for the next two days is thunderstorms and winds of 20 to 30 mph. We’ll see.

Day 2, Race 4

The wind forecast was a little high, but it was still blowing pretty hard (for an MC). The wind was in the 15 mph range with puffs up to 18 and lulls around 12. Certainly more wind than I needed given that I only weight 160 lbs. My goal for today was to sail the course as fast as I could; try to learn more about the trade off between pinching and footing; and try not to go swimming. Somewhere in one of the tuning guides it suggested keeping the leeboard up a couple of inches to ease the weather helm and make the boat more manageable – so that’s what I tried to do. I got a decent start ¾ of the way down the line from the starboard end in an okay lane. The boats around me were a little faster, some just moved forward and up a bit and others worked up below and ahead of me however I still had a nice window of wind and held on, losing a little ground to the boats around me. Near the port layline I tacked and worked my way across the fleet, or what was left of it. I learned a new lesson while going across on port – don’t try letting out the sheet too much in the puffs – you have to steer up at the same time as you ease the sheet! The boom hit the water and it was touch and go for a long moment before the bow came up and the boat flattened out again – whew, that was a close call. There were not a lot of boats behind me – maybe 10 – 15 at the windward mark. The run was interesting and fast. The boat planed like crazy most of the time except when it decided to bury the bow in the next wave. By steering hard up or down I managed to avoid stopping the boat in the waves and rounded the leeward mark a few places closer to the front of the fleet. This was helped by quite a few boats that capsized at various points in the race – and a few rigs that came down because of broken sidestays. On the second beat I felt I was finally getting into a reasonable groove with the end of the boom over the edge of the boat, the vang on hard and the sail nicely feathered. As the puffs hit I could just feather into the wind a bit more without getting knocked down – I still didn’t cleat the main most of the time but it seemed better to only ease if I couldn’t steer up to relieve the pressure. And so on down the run – one near wipeout when the bow buried deeply and the boat spun around to windward – I just tacked, bore off and kept going and jibed back later in a lull. The last beat was in the same wind, but I felt I was getting the hang of things better and actually passed a few boats to finish 34th. I’m still in the top 50% but just barely 37th out of 76. They cancelled racing for the afternoon and will try for two races Saturday morning.

Day 3, Race 5

When we got to the club for an early start on the last day (changed to 9:30) with the hope of getting two races in, the wind was blowing fairly hard but it was calmer near shore and hard to judge how much wind there was out on the lake. So with my heavy air sail still on the boat I headed out and it was really blowing out there. After reaching around for a while they sent us back in because there was more that 20 mph of wind. Once back on shore the RC announced that they were going to wait and see what the wind would do and one of the RC boats stayed out in the lake to monitor the situation. I had my doubts that the wind would die as the air heated up – but I’ve been wrong before – and I was this time too. At 10:30 they sent us back out and indeed the wind was way down but puffy and shifty as hell. There were still the occasional puffs of 15 mph but there were lulls below 5 and shifts of over 60 degrees. It was a real crapshoot and those who were sailing well, with their heads out of the boat (so they could judge what was going to happen) did well. I must have had my head elsewhere because I mostly went the wrong way after a great start. It was actually pretty easy to get a good start because the line was long and about 40 boats decided not to come out to play. I fell into a huge hole right after the start and basically waited for everyone to go away. I then tried to play catch-up. In fact I caught up to three boats on the first beat and then another couple on the first run. The second beat was good and I felt I was getting back in the race. Caught another boat on the second run and started the last beat with about 10 boats behind me. Then I really went the wrong way – honest it looked like more wind on the left – but the right was the way to go. I lost most of the boats I had caught up to and finished 32nd. That’s about where I was in the final standings too. One thing I could really see when the wind was blowing earlier was that the boats sailing with a crew were a whole lot faster. Some of them probably had 350 lbs on the rail vs my 160 and when the wind is over about 13 mph, that really helps. The people who still had a crew on board when the wind dropped to 5 mph were really suffering though.

The MC sailors are a very nice bunch – you don’t have a whole gang of Olympic wannabees up at the front of the fleet, but the pros from the sail makers and Melges Boat Works are still much better than your average sailor. The difference is that they are there to be your friend (so you will buy stuff from them) so the atmosphere is quite different from an Olympic class like the Star. The local club at Lake Eustis Sailing Club did a great job of running a 75+ boat regatta. There must have been about 40 volunteers helping out and there were about 10 boats on the water (including 4 RC boats) to keep people safe. Good organization, good people, good food, unlimited kegs of beer, warm water, sun and wind – what more could you wish for? Check it out if you get the chance.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Lightning sailing in yet another good Miami regatta

Peter Hall, sailing with Oliver Bone and Stephane Locas have had a good result doing the Miami Lightning Midwinter Regatta which wrapped up March 14th. They placed 11th overal out of 59 boats. Miami is the 2nd of 3 regattas making up the Lightning Southern Circuit. The final, the Winter Championship at St. Petersburg is on right now.

Uh-oh, this looks like trouble. Pic from 2006 Miami.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

THE BACK OF THE BUS CHRONICLES: Report on days 4 to 6 of the 2007 Bacardi Cup

By Alain Vranderick

DAY 4 – Forecast 10-15 knots E (turns out it was more like 12 NE at the start and shifting later to 6-8 E. Who the hell do they hire at the weather channel to come up with these forecast anyways?)

Photo by Fried Elliot. Hmm, maybe Alain is too light to work the front of the boat. Another 3 seconds and we'd probably see the keel! - editor :)

Ok, so maybe calling this report the –Midfleet perspective- might have been a little optimistic. Out of the 6 years here, the best we’ve done is 51st percentile, just off mid fleet. So from today until the end of the regatta, this report will now be called –The back of the bus chronicles-.

The club crowd was pretty quiet on this Wednesday morning. The pecking order is shaping up, and the crews are waking up to the dire reality of racing against the best in the world. I meet my skipper at the US sailing center. No tape measure in sight, no tuning guide in hand, I could hardly believe it, but this might turn out to be a tuningless morning.

We headed off to the race course at our usual time, Got there well ahead of time to scout the wind and race course. After our daily check in, my skip told me to hold the tiller, because the butt was out of whack again. Who would have thunk it? Whenever the mast butt is in the wrong place (or feels in the wrong place), one must take action immediately! So down below he goes to adjust the mast butt. He resurfaces 3 minutes later, and off we go to figure out the wind. Scouting the course we had it ALL figured out. The right should pay, and will pay. No questions, this is the plan. The main reason being, in this wind direction, as you work your way up the right side you eventually clear the point of Key Biscayne and hit more pressure. So there, pretty simple, just get a good start and work yourself to the right.

At the starting sequence, you can imagine that we were not the only crew who had figured out the strategy. The boat end was packed. We sailed a little bit down the line (about halfway) and set up for the start. Jostling for position, we wind up with Brian and Tyler to leeward, and Harry Walker to weather. Harry started a couple of seconds off the pace, so we wound up with a clean air start (with no Argentinians in sight!!). Off we go. In the middle of the starting line (not quite to the right), and we’re trucking. We’re stoked! Finally, a clean air start in this fleet. We were there in the company of some heavy hitters (Vince Brun, Brian Cramer, etc.) and we were doing everything we were supposed to. I’m feeding info to Willy about other boats, we’re keeping track of the compass readings. Man this felt pretty good. Except we were going LEFT!! When we realized this we flip unto port, and crossed the racing course towards the right. Approaching the starboard layline, the big picture started to unfold. We were in the cheap seats. And I mean, Molson fan section at the Bell Center kind of cheap seats. Where the front pack of the race is, is only a rumour. Then, to make matters worse, the wind started to crap out on us. We then proceeded to drag our sorry assess around the race course to finally finish 58th. But we did beat the Argentinians. So the day was not a total waste.

Back on shore, we settled down and blew some steam over the complimentary mid-week awards buffet, and all you can drink Bacardi cocktails. After a couple of double Bacardi Coco on the rocks (hey don’t laugh, a lot of guys were drinking Bacardi Coco…), everything fell into perspective. This is Coconut Grove, it’s the first week of March, and we are having drinks at an outside bar, in the company of some of the best sailors in the world. All in all, it’s not that bad. Tomorrow is another day.

LESSON OF THE DAY: EXECUTION IS KEY. Repeat after me EXECUTION IS KEY. To explain my point here’s a little synopsis of what we went through. You plan this 6 months ahead of time, you make the condo reservations, you drive 30 hours to get there, you make it out to the race course an hour in advance to figure out the wind, you figure out a great strategy, and once the gun goes off you forget everything and get sucked into riding the clean air train. Come on guys, get with the program.

DAY 5 – Forecast 10-15 knots NE

Made it to the club early pumped after yelling after a few cars on my way down to the club (I get to the club on a 22 km bike ride through the downtown of Miami). Got breakfast at the club, and met with Willy. He greeted me with one of those tension gauges saying: I’ve figured out our problem. We’ve got rig tension issues. The main is ugly he said, and I’m going to fix it. Off he went to the boat, tension gauge in hand, to fix the problem. At his point, these preoccupations were way over my head. I stuck close to the pool, concentrating on finishing my Starbucks coffee, and ignored all the action in the background. It’s hard to argue with Willy when it comes to tuning a Star. The man has a stranglehold on the fleet championship (5 years in a row) in the Quebec fleet. So when the man says the rig tension is off, you just acquiesce, stay out of the way, and go on with your daily chores.

Again, we were on the race course early, and proceeded to scout the wind. You will not fool these astute sailors again. Sailing up the right side of the course, we suddenly got a knock, in pressure. This is it we thought! This is the magic corner. We tacked and hit some pretty decent numbers on starboard, cracked off and headed towards the start line with a clear vision on how this is going to unfold. At the start, in order to obtain proper room to head right, we decided to adopt the HIDE behind the RC starting strategy. This strategy consists on hiding to windward of the RC until the last 30 seconds, where you proceed, a few seconds after the gun, to sneak into the hole left by all the pros fighting for the RC end start. And it worked! We felt pretty sexy I must say. We were in the same group as Loof, Cramer and Dane. The big master plan was finally coming together. Wednesday was just a bad memory, a race to be dropped. We’re trucking towards the right, doing a couple of clearing tacks, and eventually tacked back on starboard, about 20 boat lengths below the layline. I trim the jib, settle in the mini hike position, and proceed to look in the main window to take a glimpse at all the suckers who went left. But, after a short glimpse, something was wrong. I was only seeing about 10 boats in our window. “Say it ain’t so” Willy, I enquired. “It be”, he responded, It be. We rounded in the high 50s low 60s. Grasped for dear life down wind, and proceeded on the second beat working the shifts. Working the shifts is usually our mantra that brings us back to the basics. The fleet is usually a little bit more spread out on the second beat, and you have more freedom to establish and execute your strategy. Well, working the shifts sent us to the right again. And, you guessed it, we took another bath. Man that hurts…Worked our way around the course to the final beat where we finally got with the program and went left. This is when we noticed that the numbers on the left were 10-15 degrees higher than on the right. F**K!!! That really stung! Finished the race 53, courtesy of the wagonload of OCS.

LESSON OF THE DAY : The great thing about the Star is that it’s tweakable in every which way you can imagine. The bad thing about the Star, is that it’s tweakable every which way you can imagine. This ability to tune the boat can sometimes mess with your mind. You rationalize it by thinking, It must be the boat. It can’t be us sailing poorly, we’re the f-ing fleet champions. But never underestimate your own capacity to sail badly. So, Willy, LEAVE THE GOD DAMN BOAT ALONE ALREADY!!! It’s not the boat, it’s the dummies in the hiking straps. There, I said it. I feel better now.

DAY 6 – Forecast 10-15 knots ENE (I swear I’m not making this up. The wind was that consistent all week. Turned out to be more like 8-10 knots)

Last day of the regatta. At least 3 boats in contention of winning the Big trophy, and bragging rights that comes with it. Same routine for me, leave the condo at 8, get to the club around 8:50. One thing was different this morning, a lot more hustle and bustle than usual at this time. It then dawned on me. The last day of the regatta, the warning is given an hour earlier (10:55 instead than 11:55). We rushed a little bit compared to our usual schedule, and made it to the course on time to make a few tacks upwind to figure out any patterns. Oh, I forgot to mention that we did adjust the rig tension again.This time to put it back where it was on Wednesday. Yesterday’s adjustments proved to be a little off for the conditions of Biscayne Bay. We had lost our pointing ability. So back we went to the original setting. Hey, it wouldn’t be a day of Star racing, if some tuning wasn’t involved.

The race started on the first try. We applied the same starting strategy as yesterday, and took off for the first beat. Today was a little different, though. The crowd ahead of us did not have a clear preference for the right or left, and therefore created a more difficult situation for us in terms of finding proper lanes. The first 2 thirds of the beat were just brutal, as we wound up working the right side of the course. Bounced back from one side to the other, to finally make it around 50th at the windward mark. We managed to catch a few boats on the run, and were approaching mid-fleet. On the second beat we worked the right side again, working on shifts all the way up the beat. We closed in the on the front of the fleet, in what seemed like low thirties. It looked for a while that we would redeem ourselves, and leave the regatta with a sense of a job well done. On the last beat, with the fleet pretty spread out, we again concentrated on the shifts ,but wound up working more the middle of the course, as the wind had shifted by about 20 degrees to the left. The shift occurred too late for the RC to do anything, so the marks stood at the same place as the previous beat, but we would now have to sail more distance on starboard than port. We played it conservatively, and did pretty well holding off the competition, until we hit a dead zone. We struggled through this zone while boats on the left and right were passing us. IT finally worked out that the left paid good all day. We lost about 10 boats in the last third of the beat to finish 43rd. When looking at the results, it seemed that a few heavy hitters got also caught by surprise, and suffered a little bit. If with all the on/off the water coaching they get, plus the pre-race weather reports on/off the water, they still miss some of what is going out there, we can’t feel too bad about our finishes.

LESSON OF THE DAY : There is none. Time to pack up the boat and head to Disney World with the kids.

Final words

Hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventures at Bacardi. We’ll certainly be back next year, for what will be a very exciting regatta. The Bacardi of an Olympic year always brings out a big crowd, with tons of stories. Last time around, there were stories of tender boats with spare masts on board and the British team arriving in Miami with 32 sets of sails. All the excesses that Olympic campaigns bring to this sport. There are already rumours, that a Star boat builder is preparing a new boat specially designed for the conditions in China. We’ve got to see that.

In the meantime, if you want to see Phillippe’s new ride (the one he graciously allowed us to sail on this week), drop by CNDM this spring. He’ll be racing her on Wednesday and Fridays. Maybe you can convince him to let you crew for him. Be careful though. Once you’ve sailed a Star, it’s hard to look back. And if you feel the urge to buy one, there is coincidentally a boat for sale at CNDM. André Marcotte has hull 7044 for sale. This is a good opportunity to join the fleet in a race ready boat, that’s already in Montreal.

Salutations, and see you on the water.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Star Bacardi Cup in Race 5, Day 5

Montrealers on each side of this pic, doing battle at the Star Class' Bacardi Cup in Florida all this week. Brian Cramer of the Lake Ontario fleet has Montrealer Bjorn Tyler on board of #8143. Locals, Will Hendershot and Alain Vranderick are racing with the sails #6756. These and other super photos are by Fried Elliot

See Alain's mid-regatta report below. It must be pretty exciting, as they have done well in a crowd that reads like the who's who of sailing.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bacardi Cup 2007 – A mid-fleet perspective

By Alain VranderickQuebec Star Fleet – District 12

So here we go again, time for the Bacardi Cup. In the world of Star racing, the Bacardi cup holds a special place. It serves as a wrap up of the winter calendar for Star sailing on Biscayne Bay, and attracts people from all over the world. It’s not as official as a graded Star event (i.e. no measuring, no weighing of crews) and has a more relaxed approach than a graded regatta. You can also imagine that with a title sponsor like Bacardi, that the crews are treated pretty nicely throughout the regatta. For me and Willy, this is our 6th time here. Looking back at our first time, I think we must have been crazy. We had bought our first Star in December of 2000, and headed down to Bacardi in March without having ever set foot in a Star. I won’t bother you with the details here, but you can go to our fleet website for more on this story.

This year’s edition (the 80th) promised to be quite interesting. A lot of Europeans were listed on the roster of entrants, all working towards clinching a spot in the next year to represent their respective countries at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. There is also a bunch of familiar faces (famous and non famous) that rounded up the count. The field is littered with Olympic medal winners, world champs in the Star and other boats. Even Paul Cayard was listed as an entry, but had to cancel at the last minute (same thing happened to the British team, which were called back to Valencia by the people who sign the cheques. After all, we are only a month and half before the big show. The boys need to get up to speed). Too bad! It would have been nice to get our ass kicked the Mr.Mustacho Supremo (a certain song from Les Trois Accords comes to mind…). The only two Canadian entries are us, William Hendershot and me, plus Brian Cramer with Tyler Bjorn (representing the Canadian sailing team). Not bad, out of 4 Canadians, we managed to sign up 3 Montrealers. At the closing of registration, 75 crews had signed up for the regatta.

This year was a little special for us. At the last minute, Philippe Hofer, one the guys from the Montreal fleet called us to let us know that he had just purchased a boat from Hans Fogh, hull 8236, and was asking us to drive it back to Canada. In exchange, he would let us sail it for the regatta. We obviously were thankful for the offer, and agreed to the deal. I showed up in Miami on Saturday around lunch at the US Sailing center (right next door to the Coral Reef Yacht Club, host of the regatta), to meet up with Willy (who had a big grin on his face benefit of having to drive a sweet, brand new, Folli Star for Bacardi!!), who had already rigged the mast. We stepped the mast, finished rigging the boat and (after a few drinks by the pool at the outdoor bar) agreed to meet the next day at 9:00 for our first day on the water.

DAY 1 – Forecast 10-15 knots N-NE / Turned our to be accurate, except that the wind climbed to 19 knots at the end of the race

A typical day starts around 9:00 at the club. The warning signal is scheduled for 11:55. You get there at 9, drop the boat in the water (this is a dry sailed regatta), and head out towards the race course at 10. The sail out to the course is about an hour. You then have about another hour to figure out wind patterns, hydrate and eat before the race. The courses are mostly windward/leeward twice around with a finish to windward. The windward mark is usually set between 2 to 2.5 miles to windward. Basically you don’t have visual on the mark, until about 15 minutes into the race. Marks are set to give races of about 2:15 and 2:30 hours. You then sail back to the club (anywhere between 45mins to 1hr 30mins depending on wind direction and where you finished on the bay). You usually get back in your street clothes around 4:30 to 5:00.

The day started with a postponement, and 2 general recalls, after which the RC raised the black flag (which, for you trivia buffs, was originated at the Bacardi Cup). On the next start, a mess of boats were over early. 17 to be exact. We had a fairly good start, and rounded the first mark probably around 35th in the now BFD free field. We struggled downwind, and lost a few boats. The rest of the race we traded places with other boats to finally finish 37th. It is always tough the first few days in Biscayne Bay to adapt to the chop. We unfortunately don’t have a lot of experience in the stuff, sailing here in mostly flat lake water. It takes a different set of skills to keep the boat moving, because if you hit a couple of waves out of sync, the boat will just stop dead in the water. Well, that’s what kinda happened to the other Canadian crew. The were trading tacks with another boat when suddenly they hit a few bad waves while on port, and the other skipper was reaching for something in the bottom of his boat , when suddenly WHAM!! They punched a hole through the aft quarter of the boat. But hey, like they say in NASCAR: Rubbin’ is racin’!

LESSON OF THE DAY: When trading tacks at the windward mark, in a fleet of 75 boats, if you drop your cigarette in the bottom of the boat, let it be. The water will extinguish it. It’s a lot more prudent to keep your head out of the boat than to reach for that last half of Marlboro.

DAY 2 – Forecast 10-15 knots N-NE (pretty much spot on)

The day started with my skipper showing up at the club with a tape measure in hand, saying he’s been reading up on tuning guides regarding mast rake. It appears that our rake was off by 2 inches. WELL, that explains a lot…. We (well I mean him, I was just observing at this point) proceeded to adjust the rake. This is done by pulling on a string located on the Barney post in the cockpit. After this adjustment was done, I asked Willy about what was indicated in the tuning guides on adjusting the rake during the race? He told me that none of the tuning guides mentions anything about adjusting the rake while racing. It’s just not done. Well, why then have a little string that allows you to do that? Such are one of the mysteries of life he responded. It’s like the sun, air, the moon and the skies. It is what it is. I just think it’s put there by the boat builders to make the boat look more complicated than it should be. But, what do I know! I’m just a club racer enjoying the big life at Bacardi.

The fleet was very disciplined, for this second race. It took only one start to get the race going, with no recall. We started just to leeward of Freddy Loof (Star and Finn World Champ). That’s never a very comfortable position. I guess it’s the sail number that attracts all this attention. We’re sailing with 6756 on our sails, which is Willy’s sail number at home. If you’ve been reading articles in books about starting in a race, they tell you to identify a Muffin on the starting line to start next too. Said muffin has the quality of being inexperienced and lacking the speed to out point/out run you at the start. After 6 years at Bacardi, and starting next to the likes of Cayard, Kostecki, and now Loof, I can tell you all about what it feels being a Muffin. We’ve tried over the years to develop alternative scenarios to starting in this fleet. One of these is the RUNAWAY start. You figure out the favored end of the line, and RUNAWAY from it. Best practice (and experience) says that you will never, ever, win a start against the big hitters in this fleet. So, instead on being spit out in the third row, and bounced from one tack to the other in order to find a decent lane, you just move away from the pack, and try to find your own muffin.

On the first beat, left paid big time, we went right. We rounded about 70th. At which point I told Willy: We'’ve got them right where we want them. We climbed a few spots on the run, which was a lot better than the previous day, and set up for the next beat. On the second beat, the crowd went where it paid the first time, left. We decided to play the shifts up the middle and worked our way to the right. That’s when the big shift occurred. While on port we tacked on a header to flip onto starboard. That’s when the compass started climbing. 30 degrees it did. All the while we could see more and more boats in our main window. We were back in the game baby! Rounded mid-fleet at the top mark and proceeded downwind. We had a pesky Argentinian boat bugging us downwind which made us loose some ground (don’t you hate it when the rest of the world doesn’t cooperate with YOUR big master plan?). We finally finished a very satisfying 38th ahead of those Argentinians. Funny thing about the Argentinian crew, he likes to dance on the bow of the boat. When going downwind, crews adopt all sort of funny positions. You’ve got the standing up by the mast technique, lying on the deck technique, the lazy ass, just sitting by the shrouds technique (my favorite), and then you’ve got this guy. Acting as a diligent crew I always look behind my skipper to warn him about any incoming threats, and I see this guy, standing on the bow, and balancing himself by doing this silly little dance all in order to avoid going into the drink while the boat rocks and rolls through the waves. Must be a Latin thing I guess.

LESSON OF THE DAY: Luck is your friend. Embrace her. Nurture her. You never know when you might need her.

DAY 3 – Forecast 10-15 knots N-NE (hey is this ground hog day?)

Today, just to make sure we have everything covered, Willy needed to adjust something. The mast butt, he says, is in the wrong place. Hey, after the day we had yesterday, I won’t argue. The mast butt you shall move. This was not done just to keep busy. Willy felt that he had too much weather helm, and this is one way to correct it.

Off we go for our third day. The warning signal was given after a very short postponement. As we set up for our start (not the full blown RUNAWAY strategy, but rather a semi-conservative approach), about 1:30mins before the start, we find a pretty sweet hole on the line, which we managed to protect nicely until about 30secs before the gun, when the dancing Argentinian shows up to leeward and starts screaming something that resembled UP, but vaguely. He might have forgotten in the excitement of the pre-start sequence that you do need to give time and opportunity to the other boat to keep clear when overlapping from astern to leeward of another boat. In any event he took off like a mad man, and managed to mess up our air at the start. So off we went in a series of clear your air tacks, in order to find a proper lane to tack into and take off. We rounded the top mark around 50th. The rest of the race was typical for us, which is trying to claw back as many positions we can before the race ends. We finished a very happy 33rd.

LESSON OF THE DAY: If you going to try to intimidate me on the starting line, better bring a bat, a gun, or a drill. I’m sorry but screaming will not do it. We’ve been through this too many times, and are not impressed by it anymore. Oh, and by the way, all that screaming only led you to an OCS. So there, don’t mess with Karma, she’s a bitch!

The illustration above shows the “Argentinian effect” on our start!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bacardi Battles Continue

Will Hendershot and Alain Vranderick at the Bacardi Cup yesterday.

I gave an incorrect impression in a previous post that the Bacardi Star Regatta had been completed. That is not the case. The regatta continues with a long race each day. Our Montreal sailors Will Hendershot and Alain Vranderick continue to do very well placing right smack in the middle of this all-star international fleet of sailors and top professionals. 75 boats are competing. Fellow Canadians Brian Cramer and Bjorn Tyler from the Lake Ontario fleet have risen in the standings to 26th overall after finishing in 22nd in the third race. Hamish Pepper and David Giles took the bullet on this day, after a real battle between them and a pack of about 4 boats fought for the right side and traded the lead. Pepper and Giles managed to cross ahead when the breeze turned into heavier air on the final beat. Click the title for the full story, and check into Montreal Sailing for updates and a wind up from Alain upon his return.

La Rolex Miami Olympic Class Regatta 2007

Nicolas Kim has written another report on the efforts of the FVQ in Florida. This time it is on the Quebec team at the Miami OCR. And, this time I found it in French! Here is an excerpt. Click title for website.

La OCR était particulièrement compétitif cette année en préparation pour les Jeux Olympiques de 2008. Considéré comme étant une régate également concurrentiel que les régates majeures du circuit Européen, cet événement Class 1 a emmener les top 20 athlètes du monde en chaque classe pour y participer.

Canada a eu le deuxième plus haut nombre de participants après les Etats-Unis. Les athlètes de l’équipe du Québec incluaient Geoff Gales et Matthieu Dubreuoq en 49er, Geneviève et Véronique Bougie-Bastien en 470, et Anthony Boueilh en Laser. Membres Québécois de l’équipe National Dominique Valée (RSX), Alain Bolduc (RSX), Stéphane Locas et Oliver Bone (470), et Chantal Léger (Yngling) étaient aussi présent pour la régate importante de Miami.

L’événement de 5 jours (6 si tu faisais partit du Medal round) fut organisé par certains des meilleurs officiels de courses et juges venant de partout au monde. Les départs, placements de bouées, et l’organisation du RC, étaient très bien gérer et très peut de temps a été perdue sur l’eau. Le vent modéré la première journée a tombé à un vent très léger la deuxième. Mais un front froid a arriver au début de la 3ième journée et qui a emporter un vent fort du Nord et des températures un peut plus froid pour le reste de la régate.

La OCR est très importante pour la procédure de sélection pour l’équipe National ainsi que pour l’équipe du Québec. J’espère que notre participation dans cette régate va continuer à s’augmenter au fil des années.

Félicitations à tous les athlètes Québécois!

Lien au résultats

Nicolas Kim
Entraîneur Chef
Fédération de la Voile du Québec

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Montreal Stars do the Bacardi Cup

Hooweee, now that's a close finish!

Montreal sailors in the Star fleet made the trip to Miami to race in Biscayne Bay's famous Bacardi Cup.

Out of 75 teams competing, including Olympians, America's Cup sailors, and, well... Star sailors, Will Hendershot and Alain Vranderick placed a very respectable 36th, just a little behind Brian Cramer and Bjorn Tyler in 32nd overall.

Congratulations guys!

Another Canadian, Larry Scott, crewed on #58 helmed by American Jock Kolhaus seen above, narrowly nosing over the finish line ahead of Loof/ Ekstrom to win day #2. Hamish Pepper and David Giles won the regatta.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

2006 Orangebowl Youth Training Regatta

Nicola Kim, Head Coach of the Quebec Sailing Federation wrote a report on Quebec's youth team who trained and competed in Florida at the Orangebowl.

"It was a windier event with only the first race on the second day being less than 7knts. A steady north-easterly wind brought slightly cooler temperatures but the sun was strong everyday which led to perfect sailing conditions. Matching up against sailors who had not stopped sailing all year, the Quebec team steadily improved their performance as they got used to the short chop and stronger ocean winds of Biscayne Bay."

Maxime Gagnon placed 22 out of 127 competitors.

"Following the regatta, the team had a day off before the start of a five day FVQ training event. The camp, in conjunction with Ontario and Manitoba, had 16 Radials, 7 Lasers, 6 29ers, and was run by 7 coaches from across Canada. The days were 4-5hrs and very intense with an occasional grind out to the large swells of the open ocean (edge of the Gulf Stream).

Total on water time for the Quebec team was close to 45hrs at the end of the 11 day trip.

Quebec team athletes involved

Chanel Beaudoin-Cloutier
Laurence Bonneau Charland
Dominique Robitaille
Taylor Grant
Stephanie Bobrow
Maxime Gagnon
Martin Robitaille
Myriam Samson-Dô
Lauren Laventure
Kayla Vanderbanck
Anthony Boueilh

Congratulations to all Quebec team members participating in the event!"

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Evert Bastet is inducted into the Quebec Sport Hall of Fame

Evert Bastet received this honour some time ago, but I just found the article below surfing the CYA website.

This week 7-time Canadian Olympic Team Member Evert Bastet was inducted into the Quebec Sport Hall of Fame. The ceremony which took place on Monday night recognized 9 outstanding Canadian athletes.

Born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Evert moved with his family to Dorval in 1955 at the age of 5. Evert grew up beside Dorval’s yacht club where he began sailing at the age of 9 and competing at age 11. His first win at the national level was in Calgary in 1965 when he won the title of Canadian Junior Champion.

He first raced the Flying Dutchman in the Olympics at age 18 in the Olympic Games in Mexico, 1968. He was again selected to compete for Canada in the Flying Dutchman class for Olympics at Munich (1972), Montreal (1976), Moscow (1980), Los Angeles (1984), Seoul (1988) and Barcelona (1992).

When the games came to Montreal in 1976 Evert just missed the podium with a 4th place finish. In 1984, he and new partner Terry Mclaughlin took home the silver medal.

In 1994, Evert was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame after a sailing career which earned selection to seven Canadian Olympic Teams.

Since retiring as a racer, he has remained active in the sport as an official and / or executive at the Royal St. Lawrence and Hudson Yacht Clubs. He has been a manager of Canadian teams at most major international events and has also supervised junior programs.

“As the first sailor selected for the Quebec Sport Hall of Fame, Evert joins a host of household names that have been honored. It was a distinct privilege to be in attendance when one of Canada’s greatest sailors and most inspirational figures was recognized.”
– Ken Dool
Canadian Sailing Team Head Coach

Bastet and his wife Valerie have two girls. Nicole, 20, has followed Dad into competition. For 30 years, Evert Bastet has owned a fabrication shop in Hudson that makes aluminum masts for sailboats.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Canadians Laser Sailors Doing Well as Olympics Nears

The Laser midwinter’s East Regatta, which just ended, had a high proportion of Canadian participation, including an army of Laser sailors from the RCYC high performance racing team. Also, Canadians came within reasonable reach of winning the whole show. Bernard Luttmer, from the RCYC in Toronto placed second overall in this prestigious ISAF Grade 1 event. Canadians Lisa Ross from Nova Scotia, and Keamia Rasa from Vancouver, also bested more than most by placing 4th and 5th respectively in the Laser radial class. The regatta was held at the Clearwater Yacht Club in Florida, a pleasant winter destination.