Sunday, March 30, 2008

Maybe this racing thing isn't so bad after all!

June Beverly took this lovely picture of our Tanzer 22, Ambitious from the mast. I'm at the helm, David Bowen is ably flying the spin, and Lin Jones is in the companionway. Now, appreciate that Lin does not like racing. Indeed, sailing is best for Lin when chilled, refreshing white wine is not at risk of spilling, and the cheese plate stays put on the bench. If you have a co-owner or friend who feels the same way, I suggest the Hudson Long Distance race which is very civilized. This photo was taken as we made our way toward the finish line. With about a hundred boats, some race hard, and others simply enjoy one of the last best days of summer, and it is always a wonderful day!

Ralph - Montreal Sailing
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Sunday, March 23, 2008

2008 Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia

Pictured: Petra Niemann, the highest performer of this always key international regatta.

Montreal sailors from BYC, Stephane Locas & Oliver Bone took an almost exactly mid-fleet finish at the 2008 Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia. In the 470 class the duo, who will compete for Canada at the Olympics, finished 43rd overall out of 84 boats. In their 2nd race high they accomplished an impressive fifth place finish, but for a low, they were also black flagged in their fifth race.

Canadian Chris Cook, racing in the Finn had a truly incredible regatta, with a tough beginning followed by a heroic comeback. His last three races were nothing less than a totally dominating conclusion. His first race resulted in a 25th position, followed by finishes in the mid-teens, and then a BFD. Oh dear. Cook fought on with a 22nd then improved with an 8th. The final races were Cook full-on with bullets in the eighth and ninth races! In the medal race reserved for the top of the fleet where Cook has sometimes faltered, he placed 4th. Overall, Cook placed 9th out of 46 competitors including the winner, and usually untouchable Ben Ainslie

Also competing from Canada were Gordon Cook and Ben Remocker in the 49er with 27/52.

No doubt, the shining star of the entire international regatta had to be Petra Niemann of Germany who discarded a 2nd place, and won every other race in the Laser Radial fleet - WOW!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pilot survives copter crash on Lac St. Louis

JASON MAGDER, a Montreal sailor out of PCYC, wrote this article for the Gazette published just a few hours ago.

After emergency workers searched for nearly two hours for a 43-year-old woman whose helicopter crashed on Lake St. Louis, a Radio-Canada cameraman decided to take matters into his own hands.

Acting on a hunch, Gilbert Laporte walked onto the frozen lake to find the woman who was walking on the ice and was unable to find her way to shore.

She called 911 about 7:15 p.m. to say her helicopter had crashed.

Police, firefighters and ambulance workers were stationed both at the shore of Pointe Claire, in front of St. Joachim church, and in front of Baie d'Urfé town hall. Police were on the phone with the woman trying to guide her to shore, but her cellphone lost reception.

As emergency workers searched the lake, Laporte waited on shore near the church.

"I could only see a tiny black spot that looked like it was on the other side of the world, but I thought that might be her," Laporte said. "I took a chance and walked out to her."

He found the woman about 9 p.m. and then phoned emergency workers who transported her to shore by sled and then to hospital by ambulance.

The woman complained of pain to her back and legs, but appeared to be in good condition, Montreal police Constable Olivier Lapointe said. The helicopter had not been found by last night. It was not known how she lost control of the helicopter.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ides of March

Click photo to enlarge

This is not the J80 Fast company, from the RSt.LYC owned by Peter McBride.

We in Montreal have been walloped by the storm hitting large parts of North America. A fellow came by to look at a sail yesterday, before the storm made venturing out impossible. He had canceled his snow removal contract after last year's low accumulation of snow. In Montreal, we are on track to beat the record snowfall of 1971. The photo above depicts a boat not of Montreal, but rather just a day trip away, Conway, New Hampshire. The photo was taken by Liz Chadwick and featured in Scuttlebutt's photos of the week. Apparently a building collapsed doing in 4 of the J80 Fleet #1. I am still waiting, yearning for enough snow to dissipate so I can move a Shark from Whitby to BYC. March is a month that can play cruel tricks, but spring is not far beyond!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Last Day with Bacardi

Here is Alain's last installment chronicling his experience racing in the Star class at this year's Bacardi Cup in Florida. - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

By Alain Vranderick – Quebec Star Fleet

DAY 6 – Forecast 15-20 knots S, 2 races are planned.

Course 1, at 160 heading

This was going to be an early start to the day. It’s our check out day at the condo, plus race one is scheduled to start at 10. This means an 8:30 harbor start. On our way to the Coral Reef Yacht club, we noticed that the forecast might be right this time. The palm trees were swaying, and the flags were flying straight.

We had already decided that we were not going to sail both races. Willy has 33 hours of road ahead of him, and 5 hours on the water in 20 knots of wind might not be the best way to send him off. We headed off for the racecourse on schedule. Once there, while retrieving the bow bumper, I knocked off the electronic compass bracket. So this race will have to be sans boussole. The RC called for course 1, which is a triangle, windward, and finish to leeward. This is going to be interesting. When the wind blows over 18, the RC at Bacardi will sometimes call for reaching legs. The reaching part is always a blast, but the gibe mark can sometimes become a little sketchy. Unlike a regular downwind gibe, the reach to reach gibe will sometimes throw the boom over your head at sonic speed. It’s a little intimidating to say the least. Before the gun went off, there were already 2 boats sailing with the short mast. This was getting more and more interesting. To add some spice to this mix, a big dark cloud started developing over the course a few minutes before the start. This would be enough for our newbie’s. They turned around and headed back to the club.

We manage to start in relatively clean air, but with not a clear picture of where to go. Without a compass, and sailing open waters, it’s pretty hard to get a sense of the wind shifts. We rounded the top mark in the cheap seats, and proceeded on a planning reach. At the gibe mark the wind and waves convinced us (or me at least) that we should go for the chicken gibe (tacking…). The rest of the race was more a sail, than a race for us. On the last upwind we took notice of the leaders of the race who were now coming back downwind towards the finish. The team of Scheidt/Prada had a huge lead on the closest boat. Probably something like 20-25 boat lengths. In this fleet this is HUGE. They were basically putting on a clinic out there. Turns out that in the second race Scheidt was leading again at the top mark but got sent back because he was BFD. Too bad, he had a real shot at winning this regatta.

Once finished we headed to the club to demast and pack. This was it for us for the 2008 Bacardi Cup. Even though we lost two days of sailing, this was, as always a great event. It’s always fun to come here and learn the new tricks that people are up too in terms of tuning and gear. I’m back on a plane tomorrow morning heading back to Montreal with two connecting flights. Wish me luck!! Hopefully I’ll rejoin my family tomorrow evening. Otherwise, stay tuned, I might be writing my flight delay chronicles.

Juliette, Louis, Big Daddy is coming home. See you tomorrow.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Montreal Sailors at Bacardi Cup, Day 3, 4, 5

Rain and squalls for race four. Photo by Marco Oquendo

By Alain Vranderick – Quebec Star Fleet

DAY 3 – Forecast 10-15 knots SSE, (It was more like 8 to 10 knots) RC decided on course 4, 2.4 mile legs, 165 heading.

We got to the yacht club after our regular routine of breakfast at the condo, commute through traffic with stopover at Starbucks. Funny thing I found out about the Starbucks here in Miami, they do not serve an espresso “allongé”. Just the regular short kind. I’ve been asking for “allongés” all weekend, and all I got were blank stares. Who would have thought it? Kinda threw me off my regular caffeine fix, but I guess that it’s still better than the brown water we get at Tim Horton’s in Canada.

We scouted the course before the start with no definite strategy in mind. The numbers were pretty steady, and we just decided to see what would pan out after the start. About 5- 10 minutes before the starting sequence, a cloud that had started developing throughout the prerace tuning, started to stick out like a sore thumb in the skyline on the left corner of the course. Might as well have been a pot of gold!! After the starting sequence began, it became clear that most of the big hitters were going for that cloud. Oddly enough, once the starting sequence began, the fleet was pretty spread out over the enormous starting line (over a kilometer long!!). At about 1:30 before the start we found a semi-comfortable spot on the line, and decided to go into it and wait for the start. That’s when we were taken to school by the young Irish crew of 8261. At about 25 seconds before the start they snuck to leeward of us, luffed us, and then just took off like a rocket. If I were not on the boat being muffined, I would have applauded (they went on to win this race). It was like watching a tutorial video on how to start. We finally managed to start and worked our way to the middle right. The attraction of the cloud was quite obvious as a lot of golden stars were heading that way. In played the shifts the best we could, trying to find lanes through the traffic and noticed a slight shift towards the right. Every time we crossed on port behind a boat and then tacked back on starboard we would gain. We got at the top mark about mid fleet, and turns out the cloud was just an illusion, because the right paid big time.

We started sailing downwind on the right side of the course, with Peter Bromby right on our tail. We gibed a few times to keep our air clear, but generally worked the right. We made no significant gain or loss on the run, and headed back upwind working the middle right again. We noticed a different crowd around us this time. We could see gold stars here and there. This usually means you’re in a good spot, or, those boys are having a terrible day. It unfortunately was the latter. We were where we should be, and they were sailing unchartered waters, i.e.; the back of the fleet.

We held our own on the second run, to finish 62nd. Not a stellar day, but not bad either. We probably sailed to our competence level. In this kind of fleet you got to be realistic about your performances, otherwise you’ll need therapy for a few months when you get back home. Otherwise, bring a cat with you; it will give you something to kick when you get back to the condo…

We’re halfway through the regatta now, with 3 down and 3 to go. I must say that there is no denying that the appeal of sailing Stars in March on Biscayne bay is very strong, and that the event is indeed first rate. But man those courses are long!! If the wind is less than 8 knots I recommend to all crews to bring a book, newspaper or some kind of entertainment, because your brain might get a little soft on the downwind legs. Here’s an idea. How about a cocktail boat going around the last third of the fleet serving Bacardi cocktails in appreciation of the effort being put out by us regatta fee entries. That would keep me coming back.

DAY 4 – Forecast 5-10 knots S Race was blown off due to heavy rain

Keeping with our regular routine we headed for the race course around 10:30. As we were leaving the harbour we noticed some pretty ominous clouds forming over land. As we sailed out the dark clouds were making their way over the race course. We sailed a bit, and then the front came through. At first it was only rain, and wind from the South East. And then it went calm for a little while. We then noticed some crews taking their main down. That is usually not a good sign. Sure enough, the wind shifted to the North, and then it really started coming down. Real heavy rain and winds in the 30 knot range. We got our main down and started sailing around on jib only. Even only with the jib up, it was blowing enough for the bailers to do their job. We suffered that for a while, and decided to pack it up. As we were heading in, the front had blown through, and the wind had come down to about 10-12 knots. The RC was going around advising people that this was only a postponement and that were going to try to hold a race. Willy asked whether we should head back, and I told him that the RC had wasted whatever good will I had in them. We decided to go in.

When we got to the dock we learned that the RC had cancelled the day. This is sort of a good news bad news thing. Good news, we made it ahead of everybody, and were able to get our boat out of the water before the crowd, bad news, they were going to schedule 2 races on Thursday to make up for this lost day.

Now, this is 2008 right? I would presume that the RC has radar and weather info, or at least a cell phone to call shore where SOMEBODY is looking at weather reports and radar info. How could they have missed this big honker heading for the race course? No brownie points for the RC today. One good thing that came out of this, I found out that my spray top is not water proof anymore. So if anybody from my family is out there reading this, well Fathers Day is just a few months away…

It looks like the hot new item this year is the fiberglass whisker pole. It’s the must have item for light wind conditions. One problem is that they break easily .So if you are going to take full advantage of this new toy, you gotta buy 2 or 3. At $500 a pop, I think we’ll pass.

DAY 5 – Forecast 5 knots S, 2 races are planned.

Well this does not look good. The day starts with an onshore postponement at 9:30. The air is heavy from all the rain we got yesterday, and the bay is glassy. This is typically known as a trailer maintenance delay. Going through the yard you see all sort of stuff going on: trailer wheels being greased, rims being repainted. Fascinating…

The race was finally blown off at 11:30 sending everybody loose in Miami. Tomorrow two races are planned with the first gun at 9:55. Forecast is for 15-20 knots. Should be interesting.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008



At the HYC Clubhouse

Everyone is welcome to both Seminars; bring your passion and enthusiasm.

Judging Seminar
Saturday March 15, 0900 to 1200
No experience necessary
Presenters David Covo and David Pelling
Cost $5.00

Race Management
Saturday March 29, 0900 to 1600, CYA level 1
No experience necessary
Cost $30.00 includes course notes and rulebook (RRS)

Sunday March 30, 0900 to 1600, CYA level 2
You need to have on water experience or have completed the level 1 course.
Cost $35 .00 includes course notes and handbook
Presenter Ross Tellier

Register by email for either or both seminars with Ross Tellier at rjktellier@videotron .ca or phone 450-458-5952


HYC email or

Phone 450-458-5326

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The 2008 Bacardi Cup

Readers of Montreal Sailing may recall the great reports of Alain Vranderick racing his Star with William Hendershot at last year's Bacardi Cup. A star-laden regatta full of international names from the America's Cup and Olympic sailing, Alain provides a much appreciated different take. This year we get to benefit again from his daily reports. What a treat! - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Another March break, another Bacardi cup. After suffering through a pretty heavy winter season in the north east, I’m really looking forward for some March sailing. Plus, this being an Olympic year, the event is going to be absolutely crazy. It looks like we will easily crack 100 boats for registrations. Man, that’s going to be one insane starting line. With the Olympics lurking, it does have an impact on the numbers, but this year participation is also boosted by the Worlds which are being held just a month after Bacardi. So, this makes it the perfect event for a dry run, for those in contention of the Gold star. For us, it’s just another chance to race with the best sailors in the business, and get our ass handed to us on a daily basis.

This year is a little different for me, I’m flying down to the regatta. I usually do the watered down coffee drinking, Denny’s eating, 33 hour drive, and get there on Saturday afternoon a little exhausted but mostly relieved. Not this year. Big daddy is flying down. I’ll be landing in Miami Friday evening and will have all day Saturday to ease into the Bacardi mood. Another difference, is that I’m leaving my family behind. They preferred staying back in Montreal to take advantage of the great skiing conditions were experiencing in the North East. If that’s want they want, who am I to argue. So I’ll go spend a week, solo, in proximity of South Beach. I guess I can deal with that… honey, I promise I’ll be good.

Again this year I’m partnering up with William Hendershot. Another group from our fleet is making the trip down to Miami, the crew of 7520 André Gagnon and Daniel Després. It will be their first experience at Bacardi, and in this size fleet. I’m looking forward at getting their post racing comments. Tighten up your hiking straps boys, you’re in for a wild ride.

After the luxury of racing 8236 Folli last year, we’re back to sailing old Betsy, a 25 year old Folli with hull number 6756. We’ll easily be the oldest boat in the fleet. It will be interesting to see on a percentile basis how we compare to last years performance. The good thing about sailing Betsy, is that Willy knows her inside out. There should be a little less guessing than last year in regards to tuning. We’ll see…

So stay tuned, I will try to do my best to give you my perspective of the races and the activities surrounding the regatta. Now, it’s time to head out to the airport.

DAY 1 – Forecast 15-20 knots NE, turning to E in the afternoon (turns out we barely saw anything over 16 knots)

The first day is always full of hope. Who knows, we might have figured out on our own little lake whatever everybody has overlooked all those years. And here we are at Bacardi to show everybody how it’s done. Not likely…I must say that my articles from last years Bacardi has rendered my skipper a little more self conscious about fiddling with the tuning. He now does it in a more secretive way. He went around the yacht club Saturday asking about the latest and greatest in tuning. I was not aware of this as I was just walking around trying to soak in the atmosphere, and generally trying to acclimate to this incredibly warm weather. I must confess that I’m not a small man, and therefore it takes me a few days to acclimate to this heat. In the meantime, I will sweat all the whoppers and quarter pounders with cheese (for you Europeans out there, that’s the north American version of a Royal with Cheese) that I had to ingest on the trip down. Not a pretty sight I assure you.

In any event, we made it to the yacht club pretty early, and managed to get the boat ready with time to spare. We even had time to crash on the porch, waiting for the RC to leave (our cue to head out). We headed out in the steady breeze, happy to go sailing after a cold 5 month hiatus. On the way out, Willy tells me : For your reporting purposes, here are the changes I've made to the tuning, and please take note so it’s properly reported in your blog.… Well aren’t we organized. So he goes on to tell me about our new rake setting, and the new spreader sweep. Quite fascinating…for a skipper I guess…

The committee boat called for course 3 with 2 mile legs. So here we are on the starting sequence, trying to make the best of our strategy. With the big picture in hand (courtesy of the weather channel) we decided to go right. We managed to get off 2 good starts which got recalled, and proceeded to the third start under black flag. Almost all the fleet set up between the RC and the mid line boat, which made for quite a stacking of boats. We wound up in a decent spot, until the JPN boat decided that 6756 had won the prize for muffin of the day. They set up just to leeward of us and proceeded to luff us into irons about 20 seconds before the start. At that precise moment, we attempted a start which I had never seen or read of before : the stand still and pounce start. Let me explain how it works. First the leeward boat takes you up into irons. You then react quickly (ok, maybe not quickly, but really in a panic…) by backing the jib to avoid the boat from tacking into a horrible mess. This will inevitably stall the boat to a stand still with about 8 seconds to go before the start. You then settle down, listen to the gun go off, and start accelerating (barely). Next thing you know, you’re in a typical fourth line start. Not pretty.

We then proceeded to slug our asses around the course in a less then stellar fashion losing boats on every leg. Not a good day for the crew of old Betsy. The only highlight was sitting in box seats to witness the raft up at the first leeward mark. We were part of a 5 boat group heading towards the starboard mark of the leeward gate. Willy had a preference for the port mark, but I convinced him to hang tight and see how all of this would develop, sensing that we might have a opportunity to sneak into the group as they drift around the rounding. This was really not our day, because none of those boats cooperated with our plan. Instead they rafted up around the mark, pushing us in the process outside the pinwheel and about 5 boats lengths outside everybody and trying to avoid this disaster. We never recovered. Protests were filed, egos were bruised, but the final result was a 78 (out of 118) for us. Not quite what we had hoped for.

Looking at the results, it’s hard to feel bad. At the end of day, we put 40 boats behind us. Not quite what we had hoped for, but in this fleet, we’ll take it.

The Newbie point view :

Our Montreal homies André and Daniel are at their first experience at the big B Cup. So here’s a first hand account of their comments of their day on the water: It was great!! We were almost last at the first windward mark, and finished 86th. We gained positions on every leg Well, you’ve got to appreciate the spirit of those guys. They both looked like guys who got to cop a feel on a first date. Almost, brought a tear to my eyes. Reminded me of myself before I became a bitter, disillusioned star racer.

DAY 2 – Forecast 15-20 knots E, (not even close. It was more like 8 to 10 knots) RC decided on course 3, 2.1 mile legs, 135 heading.

We noticed yesterday that we had some issues with pointing. It appears that our new set up was not quite up to snuff. Instead of guessing our way through this new set up, Willy asked our new guru, Brian Cramer, what to do with our rig tension. Willy came back with the gospel and proceeded to adjust the rig. Well at least that’s what I think he did, because at the time I was sitting by the pool nursing a nasty shin sunburn courtesy of my ¾ length hiking pants. Who the hell thinks of applying sunblock on their shins anyways! Man that burns.

We dropped the boat in the water in time to head out to the race course and take a few tacks to check the headings. The race started on the third try under black flag. Thank God for the first two general recalls, because we had really messed up the first two starts. We even repeated the dreaded, in irons, stand still and pounce start. At that point I told Willy that we had to do something to shake that funk we were in. We could either go to church and light a few candles, or go to a gentlemen's club for a few lap dances. At this point I was willing to do anything for the team to shake the bad start funk. Willy declined my offer, and suggested that we should rather start at the unfavored end of the line where traffic is thin, and our chances of actually starting with speed was a whole lot better. The skipper psyche never ceases to amaze me…

We started in what seemed a different time zone than the rest of the fleet, and managed to hover around mid fleet for most of the race. Pretty uneventful race in which we scored a 66.

The Newbie point view :

Today was a different story for our newbies. When I saw them at the outdoor bar they both looked like somebody had just shot their dog. André admitted that he had a brain cramp halfway through the race trying to figure out what to do to make the boat go on a 6 knot downwind leg. Well André my friend, don’t worry, we all have those moments. On a 2.1 mile downwind leg in 6-8 knots, it is possible that your mind might go numb a bit. It’s normal. We’re just not accustomed to these courses. Time to man up and face the reality that there’s still 4 races to go. You just can’t fall apart on day 2. Did I mention that I have a good way of shaking that funk…

Saturday, March 01, 2008

More Winter Action in Florida

Hi Montreal sailors and readers from further afield. I'm visiting family in Florida and have been kicking boats at the Laser Mideast regatta, and recently heard of the 29er action in nearby Sarasota. Congratulations to the Canadian teams including Alex and Eric Chouinard, and Martin Lefebrve and Thierry Chaliflour of the RStLYC who placed 3rd and 5th respectively at the 29er Midwinter East. The Chouinards have now qualified for the 2008 Youth World Championships.