Tuesday, April 01, 2008

New one design keelboat sweeping key Montreal racers

A new keelboat class is coming to Montreal, and in a very big way. Montreal Sailing has been told that for a number of months, a group of key Montreal racers have been planning to found a new one design class to race in the Montreal area. Starting with only three people, the group has been rapidly growing. The working group has held very quiet, but serious meetings, meant to consolidate and grow racing in the region. So far 11 members of other O/D classes have committed to purchasing boats, and so have 4 crew members of several other racing boats. In addition to that, 8 other racers who have heard about the project have expressed serious and eager interest. All this before the class even officially begins to campaign with Montreal racers. This new class looks like it is about to sweep the Montreal waters like a July thunderstorm. Once word gets out and becomes official, the new class is confident, a great many of racers in other classes will jump in. This appears to be a very ambitious plan.

The new class will race the Laser SB3. This 3 person modern keelboat racer has taken Europe by storm, and is now going to be manufactured in the United States as well. It is part of the new “Sportboat” breed It is incredibly fast, simple, very light, easily towed by normal cars, quick to set up and ramp launch. I had a look at some pictures, and clearly it is like a big modern dinghy with a contemporary, lifting bullet style keel. It is a non-hiking class. Not only that, but while being very fast, it was designed for ease of racing with low sheets loads, modern asymmetrical, and so on. Oh, and, yes, its new, so pricey! However, the new class is arranging for assistance in purchasing boats both new and used. Apparently, lower financing rates have been arranged, and organized delivery of boats will be made for an organized, collective, deep discount purchase. The class will also encourage and support ownership “Syndicates”

So who are these people? Well, they are clearly hesitant to discuss the project too much until some final details are in place. They plan a large meeting for all racers to attend in about 5 to 6 weeks where a Builder representative shall make a presentation. Montreal Sailing knows the initial three are members of the RSt.LYC, and PCYC. The classes they sail are the Laser 28, and Fireball. Since then, members of other classes who heard about the project have joined in the planning meetings and committed to purchasing boats. They are racers of the two classes mentioned and also the Etchells, 2 Tanzerites, Lightning, 3 Sharkies, J24, a J27 (or J29, not sure). Rumour is that the interest in the Fireball fleet, and other smaller high performance classes is almost rampant.

Montreal has long been a region that races very old boats. Competitors can now easily find O/D racing boats for $5000. This is a great advantage of classes racing boats from the 70's and even older. However, 2 trends seem to be working in favour of this new class taking over the whole scene within a few years. First of all, many racers are tired of the old tubs we've been coaxing around the course. The new SB3 organizers say how much worse can it get than trying to finish an evening race in July or August in ugly slugs like Sharks, Tanzer 22s, or other such tanker keelboats. Or worse, those tired, old, teeny tiny, wet woodies with a boom you can't get under anymore. Secondly, many racers of quick boats like the Fireball, Laser 28, or Etchells are yearning to have ONE BIG FLEET that is also highly competitve! While the discourse is coursing through the veins of key players within these fleets, keen interest has been expressed by others on Lac Des Deux Montagnes who have ran into a wall in terms of racing with growth halting, or even reversing in some fleets. Some of the interested racers who already compete internationally, apparently are also keen on being able to contest the best in Europe, and believe the class with a new U.S. Builder is about to take North America in a revitalization of competitive O/D racing.

Hmmm... Lets see, me and two other owners sell and put together a downpayment, pick up a discounted used boat, and get a low interest rate. Hooo, time to revamp the home budget?!? Stay tuned to Montreal Sailing for more news and the date of the first official meeting open to all Montreal racers. Lets see, when is 5 or 6 weeks from now. What's the date today?