Saturday, September 27, 2008

Arrggh, it's the race for rum maties, or a frostie Sunday!

From the PCYC website: "The annual Rum Race is on again and definitely not to be missed by all you skallywags. Or you'll be drinkin' from the bottom of the barrel. Rum's the game and by gawd with rum you'll gain your fame. Sunday Sept 28 11:00 AM start for all!"

I'm torn between this fun race and the first race of the RSt.LYC's Frostbite series - groan. Anyway, I'm going to have fun working on the boat Saturday while listening to the Pogues to mentally prepare myself. Then, it's BYC's outrageous Oyster party in the evening. Hopefully, I won't be too hungover and lacking sleep to make it to one race or the other! If you see me on the racecourse you've been warned! I might be generous and let the crew decide which.

Friday, September 26, 2008


The Laser Class District 2 blog has posted the results of its last regatta. It was held at PCYC last week end jointly with the Fireball Class' Screwball Regatta. They had a good turnout of 10 full rig Lasers and 3 Radial rigs. I noticed Toby Jennings placed 6 in his first season in a dinghy. Also Pierre Jasmin who normally sails a nice stable Etchells took 2nd. Cool. Congratulations to the competitors and organizers. It has to be noted that the Laser Class is a real up and comer in Montreal sailing with a lot of one design regattas to choose from. Click title for full results. It is just great to see affordable racing coming to Montreal!

1 Lisa Pelling

2 Pierre Jasmin

3 Tim Marshall

4 Louis Beauregard

5 Marc Lalancette

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Screwball 2008 musings....

Joe Jospe has a gift. He's a great sailor. He also is a pretty good writer. He has once again penned a regatta report where he shows little preoccupation with the results. By the way, he and Tom Egli won 4 of the 7 races and placed 2nd in the other 3. What he does do is fondly capture the atmosphere and camaraderie in the Fireball class. Click the title to go to the Fireball N.A. website. There you will find Joe's report, full results, and at the end, a literary twist - a poem written by Stephanie Whittaker lamenting and celebrating the sailors who migrate to other classes, yet return for the Screwball. Oh, and because results do interest a few readers here and there, I'll also insert the top five at the bottom. - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

"The Annual Screwball Regatta marks the finale of the local racing season for the Fireball fleet. Over the years, this sad reality has encouraged participation, has allowed certain traditions to develop, and has generally proven to be a highlight of the Quebec Fireball racing program. This year, we seemed to get a lot of things just right. Eleven PCYC boats were joined by three more from Ottawa. To add a little mayhem to the course, we were also graced by the presence of eleven Lasers in their last event of 2008.

One of the themes discussed at length was the issue of global warming. Screwball heralds the end of summer and is notorious for providing wild and cold conditions. As advertised, Sunday was pretty chilly and breezy. The conclusion was that we found no evidence of global warming on our part of the lake. We did find one resourceful sailor warming up in a sleeping bag by her boat in the morning before heading out to sail. Who knows how long she had been there? More on the evening before shortly…

A second emerging theme of the event is its international flavor. In 2007, three Americans and two Brits joined us. They must have been scared off this year because they didn’t show, but we had one visitor from Germany, and one competitor who has just returned from years of living in France. Anna Troetschler and Etienne Portelance seemed to fit right in with the group.

The Race Committee, headed by Don McDonough, did an excellent job, coordinating the two fleets through seven races throughout the weekend. We sailed in a variety of conditions, and the racing was challenging and fair. Screwball provided moments of glory for many of the teams racing. Paula Stone and crew David Johnston put together one of their finest upwind legs ever. Jason Magder and Stephanie Whittaker were surprisingly fast in the right conditions. Others would sail extraordinarily fast, and then capsize in quite spectacular fashion. One of the more impressive displays was the first race win by Pierre Carpentier and Tom Bird. Unfortunately Pierre subsequently remembered that he had partied a little too hard the night before. Pierre’s hangover and their results got a little worse with each passing race. More about partying soon…

The Fireball fleet has long been held hostage by the Crew’s Union. At the end of the racing on Sunday, this group awards prizes to all, highlighting some of the funnier things that have occurred during the regatta and the season. Andrew McCrae, Tom Bird, and Tom Egli ably represented the Crew’s Union this year. No one really knows why Andrew, a helm, is allowed to do this, but this remains one of life’s unanswered questions. Even the Race Committee earned prizes. The prizes and the explanations were fun, and it was clear from the smiles on the faces of every competitor that we had all had a really good time. And talking about a really good time….

On Saturday evening the Club had a fantastic dinner. The cuisine was Greek, and the food was great. The wine flowed freely. Entertainment was graciously provided by John McGuiness as Master of Ceremonies and leader of the band, Donald Slessor and Stephanie Whittaker. John is an old hand at this sort of thing, and his comfort with his guitar and the microphone was pretty obvious. Donald sings very well and has been honing his guitar skills since Christmas, when his family decided he needed a new toy. Stephanie was drafted to be PCYC and the Fireball fleet’s poet in residence. The results were impressive. The attendees were educated on the history of Malcolm Van Haeften’s boat in rhyme and to music. Who knew that Malcolm owned a boat once named “Doggy Style”? Cats Paw sounds so innocent. It is amazing what can be done with a paint brush and an editor. The musical highlight of the night was the first ever public rendition of Stephanie’s creation, GNS Tuesday, sung to the tune of Hotel California.

And the partying continued until some of us remembered that we had one more day of racing ahead. Screwball 2008 was a terrific event and a fine finale for the season. Have a great winter and we hope to see everyone out on the water in their brand new Fireballs in 2009."

  1. J.Jospe/T.Egli
  2. S.Waldie/D.Gelston
  3. A.Troetschler/R.Thompson
  4. A.Spurdle/R.Lausten
  5. A.McCrae/E.Portalance

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good Neighbours Racing, Series C, Races 4 & 5

The Master, Jake Fichten, and to his left Bruce, tops on the bow, and Cathy, who makes her competitors fritter when she's on the tiller. Not pictured is Marbeth who works the cockpit, and makes their  Tanzer 22 team on Sine Wave most complete. They won the first race Sunday - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Oh yeah, another great fall afternoon on the water with 2 more GNS races last Sunday. The forecast was for a big 20 knot wind and more. I prepared for it by going down to the club early and prepping the Shark. Re-measured rig tension, found it to be in neutral setting. Then I added two more turns of the turnbuckles to tighten up the sidestays, as per the tuning guide. Pushed stuff that would fall out of the way in the cabin, and got the #2 genoa ready for use.

Naturally, as time approached to leave the slip, the big winds had yet to materialize. Certain they would come, but heeding my own advice in the last column, we put up the #1 genoa for the winds of the moment. I left the shrouds tighter in anticipation of the higher winds. Leaving the BYC harbour with the others, I could see the neighbours, Etchells, Sharks and Tanzers of PCYC in the distance. As we converged near the race committee, clearly none of the boats were struggling with their sails up. The wind was pretty easy. I eased the backstay, left the genoa fairleads forward, and we raised the #1.

I love that short period of time just before the countdown begins up to the actual start. Everybody is testing their boats upwind, riding the start line, checking wind direction and line angle, circling behind or above the traffic, and checking out their buddies and competitors' set up. It's paradoxically exciting and relaxing if you're there in plenty of time before the start. There is anticipation of fun racing, and also time to relax once the strategy is set and the boat is moving well.

Unfortunately, we never got the boat moving well! Learning a Shark in light winds is awful! I think the cardinal rule is lay off for speed. It's tough resisting my clear tendency to pinch. The tell tales continue to seemingly lie to me about how the wind is moving. That probably is foolish blame! The outside tell tale always indicates turbulence, making me want to head up. Back at the dock after racing, I measured and found them 18" back from the luff. I stuck on a new set about 7" back, hoping that will help next time out. We also messed up or spinnaker launches, but hey, when enough pain has been endured, the repetitiveness of lousy trim and helm will give way to our turn!

The Tanzer 22s and Etchells seem to glide effortlessly through the water in the light wind. So did the Sharks sailed by the local best! That is contrary to the Shark's reputation in light wind, as I understand and experience it. Kudos just have to go to the T22 Sorceress, sailed only by Beverly and Susan, big masthead kite and all. At one point, they easily slipped by us close hauled, collapsing our sails and stalling our boat right at the windward mark!

The two races saw different results as the wind went from light to lighter. 

The Fichten's Tanzer 22, Sine Wave won the first race, followed by the Shark, Crisis, and another Tanzer 22, Evergreen. In the next race, two Sharks, Nuisance, followed by Crisis, won PHRF3. Evergreen was first Tanzer 22 in 3rd. Nuisance, the new Shark in town, is having great races, really giving the established Top Dawgs a scare, and often ahead.

In PHRF 1, it was all Etchells Sunday, and Dick Steffan's took the first bullet. The next race saw different results with Allegro leading the Etchells over the line. It was pretty neat to see the order switched up so much amongst the Etchells with 4 of them exchanging final ranking in the two races.

Moonstruck, the Niagara 26 took two bullets in white sail to show who's in charge.

Just as we entered the sheltred entrance of the harbour, the winds kicked up, and before we finished tying the boat up, big white caps were giving away to yet bigger, more forceful waves.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Racing in wisps of air: for character building, or for turkeys?

Today, the Turkey Bowl was an exercise in persistence, a race of subtle helm and heel, and sails searching to attach air. All for turkeys. The better a competitor placed, the more raffle tickets received for fresh turkeys. Funny how this mighty contest draws more contestants than some pretty serious and heavy silverware.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Labour Day's Sunday results

Here are the top results from the Sunday racing of HYC's Labour Day Regatta

J24 Quebec Championship (6 boats)
  1. T. H. Barbeau, Navtech
  2. N. Mabboux, Bay Gull
A perfect 3 wins out of three races for Navtech.

PHRF 1A (8 boats)
  1. Dick Steffan, Uhu
  2. Alan Gray, Slim
  3. Pierre Jasmin, Vivace
Uhu took 2 bullets and a 2nd.

PHRF 1B/2 (4 boats)
  1. Ron Harris, Jazz
3 bullets out of 3 for the aces on Jazz

PHRF 3 (5 boats)
  1. Paul Baehr, Sudden Impulse
Sudden Impulse wins a battle where  only 3 points separated the top 3

White Sail (5 boats)
  1. J. Nasser, Maverick
Again, only a 3 point spread amongst top 3. Shigiwac takes bullets in first 2 races, but suffers a (6)DSQ to take 2nd overall.

Kudos to all the racers who got up the morning after Saturday's long distance race and party. They raced while the rest of us cruised home! (Nothin' wrong with the latter pleasantry either of course!) 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

GNS Series C, First Race short but very sweet

The winning Etchells - Ralph Montreal Sailing

Wow, I missed an exciting but very short race, the first of GNS Series C on Tuesday, August 25th! The Sharks and Tanzers both had finishes that couldn't be closer. The racers were certainly fewer than Series B. I think that is pretty typical for Series C, but this was pretty low. Those of us who didn't make it missed a great race judging by the results.

A new Shark is on the scene. Nuisance, #324 sailed by Pierre Carpentier on the stick, and George's former crew, Toby midships and Jen on foredeck. The Sharks had 3 boats in PHRF 3for this first race of the fall series. Nuisance, and Crisis, #1465 finished in an exact tie! Each had an elapsed time of 22:16. Each team was awarded 1.5 points for the finish instead of the usual 1 and 2. Close behind was the Shark Eclipse, #1048 just 10 seconds later. What a great way for Nuisance to enter the scene!

The Tanzer 22 fleet of PHRF 3 had equally exciting but brief racing. 4 Tanzer 22s raced. First over was Sine Wave, #835 in 24:21. Next over in an infinitesimal 3 seconds later was Sorceress, #840. Way to go girls! Goin' Strait, #2111 and Evergreen, #1618 were pretty close behind as well.

Don't know why the race was so short and probably the times would have been farther apart had the race been the usual duration. Makes me think it's sort of like the short course of an Olympic medal race.

In PHRF 1, 4 Etchells were out, and the victory went to Vivace, #699. Pierre's boat won by a more dominating margin, finishing in 27:48. The following Etchells, Impudence, #931, followed by #777, and Tac Tic, #305 all finished less than a minute apart, after the 29 minute mark. One J24 made it out.

A White Sail fleet of 4 was won by the Kirby 25, Clipper. Two Fireballs came out and match raced. #14768 won that. A lone Laser also made it out for a spin around the marks.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Turkey Bowl this Saturday!

This is a popular fun race. Everyone gets tickets for the raffle of big turkeys post-race at BYC. The better you place the more raffle tickets you earn! Hot turkey sandwiches served after the race. Perfect for a great fall day! See you there.

  • Open to all boats with a SLVYRA handicap.
  • White Sail only
  • $7 cheap!
  • Register at BYC by 11 am
  • One start
  • Warning 13:00
  • Orange marks
  • standard Gold cup course (triangle, windward, finish to leeward)
Notice of Race

Monday, September 08, 2008

Learning race set up in Sunday's race

The Rahn family ( Father & daughter in this pic) are a powerhouse this season.

I know, I know, learning the boat should be done before the racing begins. Study, practice, learn, practice. That isn't my reality though, so racing has to remain "fun". And, it certainly was last Sunday. Hooray! I finally got a better result in Good Neighbour Series racing.

Yesterday, Sunday morning marked the first warning gun for what I consider the real beginning of fall racing. With nightfall coming too early for the weekday evening races, we now shift to the daytime on Sundays. What an interesting day it was too.

The marine forecast by Environment Canada was for 10-15 knots from the northwest shifting to the southwest. When I got to BYC, other racers were telling me the forecast was for it to go up to 20 knots at some point in the day. Sailors get their weather forecasts from a number of different sources, and some are land, some marine, some fancy with maps and radar, some simply text. I have found the text from Environment Canada to be pretty reliable. Still, hearing others talk of more wind made me begin to doubt my understanding. Did I misread the forecast? Did a different source have better info? This is fairly important stuff! When on a Shark or Tanzer 22 set up with a big #1 genoa, you hesitate before switching to a smaller sail during a race. It doesn't take long racing downwind before a jibe or take-down of the chute is required. So there isn't a lot of time to change sails, and it can throw you off your game focus. Therefore, I find it preferable to make a correct call before leaving the dock.

I looked at the light winds beyond the harbour and opted for the #1. Past experience has led me to believe it is generally best to go with the correct sail for the current condition, because you never know when the wind will make its change, and if the strength forecast will be spot on. On the one hand it could mean being overpowered later and having to scurry. I have concluded this is better than risking being underpowered in the present winds. That is almost a guarantee of being uncompetitive. Most, though not all racers it seems go with this same approach. A few had smaller sails and actually switched back up to a larger one for the second race. Occasionally, this approach means having too much sail as the wind whips up, and struggling through the race. Our races are relatively short though. For the Sundays of Good Neighbours, Series C, two races are held, and there is an opportunity to switch in between if need be. It turned out to be the correct call for our Shark. 20 knots of wind never materialized. The wind certainly did increase after we left the harbour but not to levels unmanageable with the big foresail.

This is not to say it wasn't interesting with the puffs. However, I seem to remember one of the tuning guides saying set up for the lulls or the normal wind, and then de-power during the gusts. So that's what we did. I am still pretty ignorant and lacking confidence in setting up the trim. I confess I copied the block position for the genoa fairleads from other Sharks on the water. They all had their blocks set to a position on the track close to where the cabin begins. On our boat at least this means a tight foot, and a ridiculously fanned out leech, far from the spreader. I have had a lot of trouble figuring out how to make the Shark go, and I am not sure if this copy-cat approach led to trouble, or if some other variable causes me to have such an abysmal feel on the tiller. Usually, the slot I'm driving with is very narrow and difficult. I constantly fluctuate between pinching and falling off to much. When overpowered, as in the puffs yesterday, trying to find that precipice in between the two is most challenging. It doesn't feel good, and that less than precise knowledge makes me confident something is not right.

On the one hand, you don't want the boat falling off, and making too much leeway, while overpowered. Yet, you don't want the boat falling into the wind, and losing power either. Learning where that precipice is, in between, where you have both height and power is a more difficult balancing act on the Shark so far, than with my Tanzer 22 before.

Complicating the story further, are the tell-tales on the one season old North genoa I picked up. I know I am frequently stalling the boat going to windward. The outside tell tale flutters indicating turbulence. I alter course as precisely as I can, but often seem to make it worse. Sometimes it seems best when I let if flutter, and just go by the feel of power and balance in the helm. Something clearly remains very wrong.

The first race we placed with the rear pack, but at least not DFL. At least two boats behind us. Things were improving.

In the second race, I cranked on a bit more backstay tension, and payed more attention to the traveler. Our tacks are pretty bad, and a big part of it is me staring downward and struggling with the traveler! Still, once I stop snaking, the boat seems to go better.

We had a very bad start, just back enough to be caught to leeward of everyone's sails and stalling. We made a quick tack to port, crossing the sterns of the fleet, and just ahead of the race committee's anchor line. This actually payed off quite well. Our progress up the right hand side of the course was clear and clean, though I got real anxious near shore where the wind felt fuzzy-wuzzy. How is that for a real technical term. We got to the windward mark in third position and held on to that till completion of the race. Essentially, once in third and realizing that the two Sharks ahead, Crisis and Eclipse were far enough to hold their own positions, I just watched, covering the rear. Ketchup tried to pass to windward on the last leg, so we blocked. Then, as we both passed a Tanzer 22 white sailing, they jibed to the right, while we stayed on the left. That made me nervous, but I felt our angle gave slightly more speed. I know standard tactics are to continue covering, but I felt any mix up with the infinitely more talented Ketchup would result in us being badly spanked! We finished in the same order. Taking third was pretty satisfying after finishing DFL and almost DFL for most of the time trying to figure this boat out this season.

Gotta be amazed at amazed at how well some boats do! I didn't see the top finishers (lol) in race #1. In Race #2, Crisis won with just Tof and Hugh on board, managing everything! Eclipse, sailed by the Rahn family took 2nd, and have been fast all season. Peter has really figured the Shark out now! Ketchup sailed with an extra crew on board. George proudly raced with a tiny tot bouncing on his knee! How cool is that?

In the second race, I believe the first Tanzer 22 to finish was Encore Une Fois. I saw them take up another boat at one point on the last downwind leg, but then decided I better watch my own course if I didn't want to screw up. I figured as long as they fought it out, I could continue happily along my way to finish ahead.

After the race, we played with the genoa lead position. We moved it well forward, and thought the sail had a much nicer shape, and didn't spill out so far from the spreader. Phillipe was at the helm as I moved the block forward quite far. He thought it felt much better. However, I think the wind had also lightened up, so that could have been an interfering variable.

We headed back to harbour satisfied. The race result at least indicated some progress had been made, even though there is a helluva way to go. While mounting the infernal motor on the stern, I noticed a huge wad of weeds on the rudder. Must remember to check for that, yet another interfering variable to understanding what the heck is going on with the boat.

So, there it is, another installation in the learning process of the team Ambitious, on the mysteries of Sharks and fractional rigs. The draft beer at the club tasted pretty good. The crew must've had a good time too - I didn't have to pay for my suds!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Hudson Labour Day Regatta: Distance Race Results

Pictured is George Stedman's Ketchup which won the Long Distance Race last weekend. Pic is from BYC Annual which is part of Sailweek - Ralph, Montreal Sailing.

99 boats competed this year with, as is tradition, one big start, and scored according to PHRF. Here are the results I found interesting. Lets begin with the obvious, the top fifth of finishers according to PHRF handicapping:

1. PHRF 3 Ketchup Shark 422 G. Steadman PCYC
2. PHRF 1A Perceval J29 92 S. Thiffault CVL
3. PHRF 1A Slim Etchells 1053 A. Gray HYC
4. PHRF 1A Vivace Etchells 699 P. Jasmin PCYC
5. PHRF 1A Allegro Etchells 956 L. Gloutney PCYC
6. PHRF 1A Quill Etchells 1089 S. Lawrence HYC
7. PHRF 1A Eminence Grise Etchells 263 D. Covo PCYC
8. PHRF 1A Still Lost Boys Etchells 321 P. Laflamme HYC
9. PHRF 1A UhU Lazer 28 209 S. Walkington HYC
10. PHRF 1A Impudence Etchells 931 D. Lowther PCYC
11. PHRF 1A Uhu Etchells 1263 D. Steffen R.St.LYC
12. PHRF 1A Top Gun2 Etchells 1182 M. Pham PCYC
13. PHRF 3 Nuissance Shark 324 P. Carpenter PCYC
14. PHRF 1B Jazz J 22 693 R. Harris HYC
15. PHRF 1B Bay Gull J24 1947 N. Mabboux PCYC
16. PHRF 1A Tactic Etchells 305 B. Palfreeman PCYC
17. PHRF 1B High Strung J24 2767 D. Cobbett HYC
18. PHRF 1B Varmint J24 3782 C. Vittecoq HYC
19. PHRF 2 Wotan Niagara 26 6 D. Godin CNDM
20. PHRF 3 Blue Shark Shark 804 J. Frati BYC

The results within the popular one design classes are always compelling information. The Tanzer 22 class was by far the largest group of competitors with 23 boats. Within each group of competitors, here is who did best. The order is simply as per 1st boat of class in the overall results:

1. PHRF 3 Ketchup Shark 422 G. Steadman PCYC
2. PHRF 3 Nuissance Shark 324 P. Carpenter PCYC
3. PHRF 3 Blue Shark Shark 804 J. Frati BYC

1. PHRF 1A Slim Etchells 1053 A. Gray HYC
2. PHRF 1A Vivace Etchells 699 P. Jasmin PCYC
3. PHRF 1A Allegro Etchells 956 L. Gloutney PCYC

1. PHRF 1A UhU Lazer 28 209 S. Walkington HYC
2. PHRF 1A Andanzas Lazer 28 211 P. Lhotsky R.St.LYC
3. PHRF 1A Nom de Bleu Lazer 28 182 P. Hofer CNDM

1. PHRF 1B Bay Gull J24 1947 N. Mabboux PCYC
2. PHRF 1B High Strung J24 2767 D. Cobbett HYC
3. PHRF 1B Varmint J24 3782 C. Vittecoq HYC

1. PHRF 2 Wotan Niagara 26 6 D. Godin CNDM
2. PHRF 2 Red Coat Niagara 26 34634 R. Tellier HYC
3. PHRF 2 KifKif Niagara 26 34614 D. St-Onge CNDM

1. PHRF 3 Sine Wave T 22 835 J. Fichten PCYC
2. PHRF 3 Rocking Horse T 22 378 B. Hansen HYC
3. PHRF 3 Tumbleweed T 22 2153 D. Seaman HYC
4. PHRF 3 Encore une Fois T 22 1099 J. Linton BYC
5. PHRF 3 Sloup de Jour T 22 1093 K. Hodgson HYC
6. PHRF 3 Charisma T 22 20 K. Barrieau HYC
7. PHRF 3 Shigiwac T 22 413 C.Campbell HYC
8. PHRF 3 Knot a Clew-Sassy T 22 1531 M. Laventure HYC
9. PHRF 3 Haida T 22 275 R. Metcalfe HYC
10. PHRF 3 Sorceress T 22 840 B. Gilbertson BYC

1. PHRF 3 Lablatt Bue Mirage 24 24121 A. de Vries IPYC
2. W.S. Fol Amour Mirage 24 128 D. Masse CNDM
3. PHRF 3 Jazz Mirage 24 15970 R. Sherpardson IPYC

Full Results for those of us deeper in the standings, and irregardless of class sailed!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Mobility Cup 2008 Wrap Up

Jen Davey wrote this post which appears on the CYA news page. As a source of sailing news, the CYA website has been improving over the years. Since one of the reasons Montreal Sailing was created was the dearth of sailing news, it's nice to see them and other sources like SLVYRA making progress. - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Mobility Cup 2008, hosted by the Association québécoise de voile adaptée (AQVA) and the Pointe Claire Yacht Club has wrapped up after a very successful week of racing. 42 athletes with disabilities from around North America, as well as Great Britain and even New Zealand were treated to PCYC’s warm hospitality over the five day event. Despite all-too-frequent light and shifty winds, both the Silver and Gold fleets were able to complete a full series of races, with a drop for each group, thanks to the patience and expertise of Principal Race Officer Madeleine Palfreeman and her skilled team.

Racing was tight in both fleets, and a glance down the list of final results will quickly reveal the depth of competition in both Gold and Silver. The 19-boat Silver fleet was won by Richard Dionne, of Shediac, NB, whose loyal visits to AQVA’s annual regatta, the Coupe du Quebec, surely helped him decipher the classic tricky Lac St Louis shifts. In second place was Tim Ripley of Randolph, New Jersey with Johanne Daly, of the AQVA program, rounding out the top three.

In Gold, Merle Hickey of Calgary opened the series with a commanding pair of bullets, then continued to sail strong all week to finish first overall of the 23 participants. In second place, in a breakout regatta, was the youngest competitor of the fleet, Helen Dam of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club. At 16, Helen has been training hard in her Martin and her dedication was really on display as she sailed an extremely consistent regatta in extremely inconsistent conditions. Kingston’s Audrey Kobayashi, who divides her time between the Martin and the Paralympic-class Skud, returned from a hectic few weeks of racing to take third.

A couple of special prizes were also awarded at the Closing Ceremonies. The René Dallaire Award for top Sip n’ Puff finisher in Gold was awarded to Chris Loscerbo of Vancouver Island, BC, whose 8th place would likely have been higher had it not been for an OCS in race 5. The Darren Tucker Award for Tenacity was given to Dan LeBlanc, another sip n’ puff sailor from Vancouver, for his relentless determination to finish all races despite several stressful equipment breakdowns and his tremendous attitude towards improving his sailing.

All week, there was a strong focus on coaching with several guest coaches helping on the water and leading animated de-briefs. Paralympian Danny McCoy, former National Team coach Marc Littée, Ontario provincial coach Matt Dubreucq, along with very accomplished local coaches Jamie Allan and Pierre Carpentier all provided excellent feedback throughout the week.

As with all AQVA events, there was a spirited and ever present social side including daily Happy Hours and prize giveaways during de-briefs, a huge BBQ on Tuesday night, and a lovely closing banquet on Thursday that began with a beautiful meal and ended with Karaoke and dancing until the wee hours. The last special prize awarded was the newly inaugurated Sambuca Cup, which went to Danny McCoy for his unyielding dedication towards the cause of fun.

AQVA wishes to thank the many people who made this event possible. At the top of the list is surely Regatta Chair Paula Stone, who worked tirelessly for the past year to make sure it would happen, with support provided by co-Chairs Scott Lutes and Pierre Richard. Thank you to Chief Judge Dave Pelling and Protest Committee Joe Jospe, Tom Egli and Rob Levy. A special word of thanks to our ‘gold level’ corporate sponsors, Pfizer Canada, Dawson College, Constance-Lethbridge Rehabilitation Centre, Sunrise Medical and CN. A huge ‘merci’ goes out to the Pointe Claire Yacht Club, its administration, staff and members who have been very accommodating since day one; as well as to a couple of other yacht clubs on the lake, Beaconsfield and the Royal St Lawrence, who also provided help. Finally, thanks also to the skilled AQVA staff team and the many, many volunteers who helped in the planning and execution of the event. At last count, the volunteer total was close to 100 strong!

Congratulations to all competitors, organizers, and volunteers, and we’ll see you next September in Toronto!

Jenny Davey


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The “Annus Horribilis”

This Shark is coming along nicely with much work, but it needs to be patient for its skipper to fulfill its potential. - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Dear readers of Montreal Sailing.

Might you recall the year Queen Elizabeth II, reigning monarch of the British Commonwealth, including 16 independent states and their overseas territories and dependencies, declared openly in a blunt speech that she had had a horrible year, her “Annus horribilis”.

It was 1992, and the reigning Queen regnant was describing the year in which she endured these hardships: her son the Duke of York would separate from Sarah; then, Sarah was photographed topless, kissing with her lover John Bryan; followed by the Queen’s daughter and Princess Royal would divorce her husband Captain Mark Phillips; disaster struck when one of her homes, the beloved Windsor Castle caught fire, being seriously damaged and resulting in the loss of a number of priceless artifacts; then, after the government pledged to pay the £40 million cost of castle refurbishment, a taxpayer outcry resulted in the Queen having to pay up herself, and worse yet, in order to raise the money she had to open her palace homes to gawking, plebian tourists. Oh, the humiliation; To make matters even worse, right on the heels of her Majesty’s speech, comes the divorce of her eldest son, the compelling but unusual Prince of Wales, Heir Apparent to the throne, from the controversial but popular Princess Diana.

Oliver Bone and Stéfan Locas must surely know that most horrible pain when like the Queen’s very, very rough patch, everything seems to go wrong.. Finishing at the back of the fleet at the just finished 470 dinghy class regatta in Olympic racing. Not only no medal, no podium excitement, not even mid-fleet. Instead, the back… the very back. Sure, they are sailing amongst the best in the world. They are two of the best sailors in the world! We must not underestimate what a remarkable accomplishment it is for an underfunded, underdog team to make it to the most elite playground of the wealthy and powerful, the Olympics. Kudos. Does that make it any less painful to lose. To be honest, it wouldn’t for me. I think I would feel both lucky to be racing, and pain at defeat. Hey, wait a minute, that is what I feel!

Yup, I too know humiliation. I too know pain. I too know what a challenging path it is to struggle for a recovery, a former status in jeopardy. Okay, okay, perhaps this working class commoner from a colony cannot quite feel the same scale of downfall, and misfortune. Perhaps this enthusiastic, but inexperienced skipper of club racing and casual classes has experienced only small ripples of height before falling ingloriously into the troughs. Still, I have an idea, and can sympathize. For I too have suffered my “Annus horribilis”. DNS, DNF, DFL. Whatever the difference in magnitude, irregardless, I feel crushed! I know what it is like to be underfunded, to have little or no coaching, run up debt, have limited time beyond having to earn a living, to struggle mightily… and in my case, stupidly…Still, I bet Bone and Locas would agree, no worthy challenge is for the faint of heart, and all experience can be used for a victory down the road.

In years past in our Tanzer 22, Ambitious, we had great days, series, and seasons, won races, series flags, beat Tanzers and Sharks alike on good days. Now, this season, I launched a Shark, and ugghh, my worst season in memory began! First, after much toil, it finally felt at least time to put the boat in the water. That was late July, about half of the season, lost to metal grinding, fairing, paint dust, drilling fiberglass and riveting through metal. In reality, the early years in the T22 were much the same. Still, it should be a little better racing a new class the second time around. Also, the work upgrading the boat, and making it truly race-ready is in reality an on-going process for some time to come. Then, to make matters worse, we seem doomed to make the same silly novice errors as when I first began racing. Our team lacks consistency in membership, familiarity and skill. We get out to the racecourse late with zero practice. One recent evening, we foolishly sailed downwind from the start line, in very light, subsiding wind, to throw up the spinnaker, get a new crew familiar on the foredeck. Of course, the chute twists, tangles, and won’t sort out, and then as the current brings us far away from the start, the race timer countdown begins. I’ll just leave it at that! One day, we were late enough that it only made sense to go cruising instead. We should have the other night too. Even when starting well, trim and helm are so poor, the fleet is quickly lost. Not always! We occasionally have had a good leg, figure it out, just not consistently. Well it has only been a month and a bit, but it still hurts. I know what is needed. Part of it, is an empirical breakdown of tasks, documented (including marks right on the boat), then precisely, rapidly, and accurately executed (It helps to have a friggin' idea of what precisely to document of course). The other part is an intellectual appreciation of our game, an understanding both thoughtful and intuitive of strategy and tactics. Yaaah right, maybe some year!

Dear readers of Montreal Sailing: all this to say that patience and persistence are virtues! So much has gone into boat refurbishing, trying to figure out the racing, finding crew, that in my annus horribilis, innocent blog subscribers have also suffered. Less news, pictures and commentary have been forthcoming as my preoccupation is to muddle through the season. It shall eventually improve. Just as the Monarchy is once again the fancy of its subjects, just as Locas and Bone will sail another day, and be champions, the Team Ambitious, and Montreal Sailing are here to stay a good while longer, and even reign amongst competitors!