Monday, October 05, 2009

Review of the Thomson Long Distance Race

The HYC blog, Sailors Advisory recently posted this article. Very interesting debate about how to distinguish classes for handicap racing. It's a conversation that could and does take place at other Montreal clubs too. - Ralph, Montreal Sailing


Originally established in 1966 by the then Commodore Arthur Thomson, the Thomson Long Distance Race has become one on the most prestigious events within the HYC sailing calendar. Like so many long standing races over the years it has evolved, acquired many traditions and developed its fair share of controversy.

Current Issue - Who should compete

In recent years with the development of more specialized racing boats a lot of debate has centered on who may participate in the race itself. This has created a lot of confusion and become an emotional topic amongst our members. As a result the sailing committee has spent considerable time over this season to clarify the situation. To do so we have consulted with the Thomson family with regard to the original intent outlined in the deed of gift, our own sailing community to capture the traditions of the event, and SLVYRA our regional handicapping authority to define classes of boats.

Thomson Family View

We understand from Andy Thomson, Arthur’s son, that the race was originally established in response to the predominance of the centerboard fleet within racing at that time. His father wanted to ensure that these dinghy type boats such as Y-flyers, GP14s, and Lightnings would not be able to compete in a race against the growing cruising fleet of Sharks and Tanzer 22's etc. His father’s intent was to exclude centerboard boats and as such he feels it would be appropriate for all keelboats to compete in the race.

Established Tradition

The tradition reflected by many of our membership is that the race should be limited to cruising boats and exclude high performance racing boats. Indeed the original deed of gift states that it is open only to “boats with cruising facilities”. However no definition was provided nor has a clear consensus been reached upon which to classify a boat that wouldn’t exclude almost every boat in the harbour in some way.

Defining a Cruising Boat

SLVYRA governs for our region the PHRF rating system designed for keel boat racing. PHRF ratings for cruiser-racer boats are based on the concept of a “Standard Boat” the definition of which includes that it is production boat built to a single design, has a ballasted keel, is equipped with an engine propeller and fuel tanks, and has inside fittings and equipment as intended by the manufacturer. These fittings and equipment may include all or part of the following: head, sinks, stoves, icebox, navigation desk, berths, lockers, shelves, drawers, table, doors, curtains, instruments, domestic water, plumbing, wiring, fuel and water tanks, etc. SLVYRA also defines “Bare Boats” such as the Soling, Star, Dragon, Etchells, Six Meter etc which by the intent of the manufacturer are devoid of much of the equipment described in the definition of a standard boat. This is also the case for sports boats (Melges 24, J80) and day sailors (Rhodes 19, O Day 23). As such bare boats, sports boats and day sailors do not fit within the widely held view of a cruising boat.


Having carefully listened to all parties the following determination has been made and shall apply to future Thomson Long Distance Races:

1. Participation in the Thomson Long Distance Race is open to all keelboats with a valid SLVYRA handicap.
2. The Thomson Trophy shall be awarded to the 1st boat finishing on corrected time conforming to the SLVYRA definition of a standard cruiser- racer sailboat.
3. A new award shall be established for the 1st boat finishing on corrected time irrespective of class
4. All previously winners of the Thomson Trophy shall stand.
5. The Club Captain, Senior Sailing Director and Club Measurer shall review on an annual basis the fleet of keelboats at HYC and determine which class of boats shall be defined as non cruising boats.
6. The current list of non cruising boats within the HYC fleet comprises: Etchells, Formula 21, Grampion 22, Independent 21, J22, Rhodes 19


It is intended that these revisions is to formally clarify the situation for all involved and create an inclusive event that maintains the traditions established for the Thompson Long Distance Race. A copy of this review will be placed in the archives for future reference and in conjunction with the deed of gift will be used in the creation of sailing instructions for the race.