Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cool stuff under the Christmas tree?

Dunno if anyone got anything as outrageous as a boat under the Christmas tree. However, I bet some of you got some sailing gear! I got a gift certificate to the local chandlery. So, I am getting more excited about a new track and windward sheeting car, I really really want for next season. I also got this super pullover sailing top. It has fleece on the torso, and that spongy, stretchy material that remains close to your skin on the shoulders and arms. It will definitely keep me comfy warm, and is very cool.

Pic was found by Tillerman and posted on his blog, Proper Course. I wouldn't be surprised if this winter a few of you will be sailing further south than Santa is in this image. If so, send us your reports! - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'A Holiday Wish', by Steve Martin

Link to A Holiday Wish by Steve Martin

Happy Everything everybody. This is a personal faux-pas for me, as I normally refrain from non-sailing material. However, I wanted to send my warmest wishes to all my sailing friends and readers, and that is genuine, even if I do have a cynical side!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

View of a local DN

Here is a view of the DN. This past weekend, it was one of the boats sailing on the clear ice just formed on Valois Bay. Imagine that big full batten sail powering a boat that weighs roughly 1/4 that of a little Fireball, and sailing against virtually no resistance. I also appreciated the beautiful wood hulls, particularly in the knowledge that they are not affected by the rot of liquid water. Those shrouds are super floppy, which allows the composite masts to bend dramatically to leeward as well as back. No kidding, the masts look like bananas when under sail.

Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Project "Mets les voiles sur ton avenir!"

I found this on the FVQ website, and it looks like a worthy project. The idea is to use a sailing experience as a means to increase academemic perserverance. I would have loved such an opportunity as a teenager! There is an english translation on the FVQ English site - Ralph, Montreal Sailing.

Ce projet est une initiative de persévérance scolaire menée par le Carrefour jeunesse-emploi Bourassa-Sauvé (CJE) en partenariat avec l’école Amos et la CS de la Pointe-de-l’Île. Les ateliers s’étaleront de février à mai 2010 avec comme point culminant un périple de trois jours en voilier sur le Fjord du Saguenay en collaboration avec l’école de voile Damacha.

Ce projet rejoint et s'inscrit dans celui de VENT DEBOUT parrainé par Damacha Yachting.

Les sept (7) participants ciblés par les intervenants de l’école d’Amos, doivent être âgés de 16 ou 17 ans, habiter Montréal-Nord et présenter des problématiques sur le plan de la motivation scolaire.

Accompagnés par un conseiller en emploi du CJE, le conseiller en orientation de l’école Amos et guidés par la capitaine du bateau, Marie-Emmanuelle Côté qui donnera une formation au moyen de trois (3) rencontres de trois (3) heures chacune, les jeunes participeront à toutes les étapes de navigation au cours desquelles chacun des jeunes sera tributaire des autres. Le séjour en voilier (3 jours) sera l’aboutissement de ce projet visant à prévenir le décrochage scolaire.

C’est donc dire que la formation est un moyen efficace pour stimuler la motivation et l’investissement personnel de chacun dans le projet et il vise à travailler l’estime et la connaissance de soi.

Pour plus d’informations sur ce projet, vous pouvez contacter
Rond-Point jeunesse au travail/ Carrefour jeunesse-emploi Bourassa-Sauvé
Courriel :

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sailing season begins again, DN Season is now!

6 DNs were out on Valois Bay today, launching off from the Venture Sailing Base. The wind went from nothing to wispy but the ice was magnificent. So smooth and clear, that even the lightly moving air was enough to move the boats along at about 8 to 15 miles per hour from time to time.

I met André Baby who has had many of these boats. I also saw Hans Huber, who sails his Flying Dutchman and Laser out of Venture Sailing Base. Hans built his own Flying Dutchman, and has built a number of these DNs as well. I expected to see a very simple craft. The DN however, is a very competitive one-design racing boat, so I should have realized that they have evolved over the years. Several different iterations were represented amongst the fleet sailing. The most significant differences I picked up on were the runners and masts. The runners (skates for us not initiated) have become longer, and thus faster. The older shorter, but taller ones cut through snow a little easier. The masts have evolved from stiffer aluminium to super "whippy" carbon and fibreglass composites.

Hans offered his DN so I could have a go. I figured I couldn't hurt it in the light air so gratefully accepted. It took a while of pushing out from shore to find a bit of moving air, but once I turned upwind, I was surprised to find the boat pick up on its own, and into the hull I slid. You lie on your back, just inches off the ice, so you instantly feel the speed, and how sensitive the boat is. I managed to get up to about 8-10 miles per hour, much faster than the speed of the wind. Then, I got nervous about how far out I could go from shore. Farther out was open water As soon as I jibed, I stopped dead. Then I had difficulty getting moving again downwind. Apparently, you need to push the iceboat along to build up some speed before powering up enough to get underway. I didn't have the spiked shoes they were wearing, so had trouble getting moving on the slippery ice. I'm told that the DN will bend the apparent wind enough that at speed they can sail as close as 20 degrees off the wind. You instantly realize the tremendous power these ice boats have with virtually no resistance when the ice is smooth and clear.

Great fun!

Ice spreading out from shore. First DNs spotted!

Ice sailing is starting early this year. I was driving by the Venture Sailing Club Saturday afternoon, and spotted two DNs venturing out. The ice is only partially filling the bay along the shore, so the sailing area is definitely limited. However, there was some beautifully clear blue ice! The Montreal Ice Boating Association is now posting regularly here as the ice conditions are developing.

Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Canadians Win Melbourne

Michael Leigh and Paul Tingley have both won 1st overall in their respective classes at the 1st stop of the ISAF World Cup, Sail Melbourne, the Asian Pacific Regatta. Both sailors were challenged by close contests. After yesterday's racing, Leigh had slipped from 1st overall to 2nd, 4 points behing U.S. sailor Clayton Johnson in the Laser full-rig.Then, in the final medal race, Leigh took 4th, enough to triumph. “I couldn’t have asked for a better medal race,” said Leigh. “I kind of figured that Clayton and I would have a little bit of a pre-start match race, we were playing cat and mouse out there. But once we got underway he went left and I went right and I just had him at the top mark.” “It was tight the whole way and came right down to the final downwind, there was nothing between the ten of us the whole race,” he said.

In the 2.4mR class, Paul Tingley won the final medal race, giving him the regatta. Said Tingley. “The wind was a little more consistent and it was more about boat handling out there, going into the race I kept it simple, I knew if I could win the race the overall win would be mine as well.” “I started at the pin end and had good speed off the start, I made sure I protected the left and covered Michael (Leydon) throughout the first half of the race until I had a good lead,” he said.

Picture and story on Sail Melbourne.

Ralph - Montreal Sailing

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Canadians leading 2 classes at Sail Melbourne

Picture of Mike Leigh from CYA website article - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Canadians are having an outstanding regatta down under. Sail Melbourne is the first stop of ISAF's Sailing World Cup Series.

Mike Leigh is holding down first overall in the Laser full-rig with 6 of the 11 races completed. He has 2 bullets, a 2nd, and a 3rd place giving the appearance of being the dominator. However Clayton Johnson of the U.S. is just two points behind. Third is Andy Maloney, 9 points back.

In the 2.4mR class, Paul Tingley is in first place overall, with one bullet, and one point ahead of Peter Thompson of Australia. Thompson has had a lot of race wins, but two mid-pack finishes have allowed Tingley to hold the lead.

Conditions have been quite varied. The first day saw wind in the upper teens with large waves. Day 2 was light winds, quite flat water, and very tight racing. The light breeze was shifty, but lasted long enough to be predictable.

Day 3 saw both strong and light wind that was shifty and puffy with the left usually being faster, but then the right sometimes being better. Day 3, the most demanding of conditions was described as follows:

“It was very shifty out there today,” said Johnson. “It seemed like the left was very good on the first beat of each race but then the right came on in a huge way. These shifty and puffy conditions are a bit of fun as long as you stay calm and don’t get frustrated by what the wind is doing. At one stage it was blowing about 20 knots in the first race and then died down to about five so transitioning well was really important,” he said.

In the Laser Radial women’s fleet American Paige Railey said “Pretty much wherever I went today the wind didn’t. In the first race I managed to start at the wrong end but fought back well to win, at one stage there were less boats behind me than in front. Then in the second I managed to bang the wrong corner each time and slipped back a bit. It was a bit weird out there today, one side was favoured on one beat and then the next one it was the other side, at one stage I headed out by myself and got a huge shift and ended up reaching into the windward mark,” she said.

A storm front center came through on day three with a hole of no wind and driving rain. Most fleets were not able to complete a race. Sail Melbourne continues through December 19th.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tips by Andrew Campbell

Andrew Campbell, Laser sailor extraordinaire, and currently pursuing a shot at the 2012 Olympics in the Star, wrote this recent post on his blog. It is instructional tips based on recent Melges 32 Gold Cup regatta in which he served as tactician. Pic from his site by Joy.

- Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Team Ninkasi took a fourth place finish in the fleet of 23 boats at the 2009 Melges 32 Gold Cup last weekend of Fort Lauderdale. Owner John Taylor at the helm took his team through a very consistent series and ultimately was within striking distance of the lead going into the last race. Anthony Kotoun and I switched positions on the boat for this regatta from last year’s roles. He trimmed mainsheet while I was legs-out calling tactics and strategy from the rail. The decision was a success for a number of reasons, but simply put Anthony is the speed-guru on board and I’m more comfortable positioning us for success.
Three points became very clear after a very windy practice session before the regatta, and after a few breezy days during the regatta:
  1. Communication must be Clear and Concise: If the tactician is making a call, grabbing everybody’s attention for a split second to explain what’s going to happen in the upcoming maneuver drastically improves the chances of success. If the trimmer is talking to the helmsman downwind, short and clear words about a) what kind of pressure he is feeling and b) what mode he thinks the helmsman should be sailing make it a heck of a lot easier for everybody to do their jobs.
  2. Consistent Speed is a Killer: Most of what made Anthony and my switch a success was his ability to keep the boat from getting too slow. In order for the tactician to be able to make good decisions, he has to be able to depend on the boat to continued around the racecourse at a consistent speed. Changes in speeds demand on-the-spot changes in tactics. When the tactician can concentrate solely on tactics and let the mainsheet trimmer concentrate solely on mainsheet, then the boat is better off around the racecourse.
  3. Cooler Heads Prevail: Continuing on the theme above, placing everybody in positions where they can excel is the key to any sailing program, or any business for that matter. When people are in positions where they are already performing at their highest level as opposed to positions where they are improving their skills, the team around them will be better because of it. When players are in the wrong positions, stress is amongst players in the correct positions because the weaker player is thus holding back the entire team. Let the training happen somewhere else besides at the regatta. Having the correct players in the positions where they’ll do their best will enable cooler heads to prevail in heated racing situations.
  4. Front Row is a Bonus: In a fleet as strong as the M32 is right now, being in the front row off the starting line is a bonus you cannot live without. Simply put, if you start in the front row you will likely be top 10 with average speed. If you are not in the front row, you will guarantee yourself a bottom 5 mark rounding. You must be able to hold on starboard or make your own decision about tacking for at least a minute in order to have a decent first mark rounding. This weekend we had two rough starts and two finishes outside of the top ten. There were some very good sailors on board boats that finished 1st in some races and last in others. Our fourth place finish at the end of the series was testament to a good weekend on the starting line.
On-the-water time is almost over for 2009, I will have an annual report out shortly. Time is at hand to make a final push into the 2010 Star Worlds coming up in Rio de Janeiro in January.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Share the Hype

Evert Bastet, Olympic medallist and one of our greatest sailors, carries the Olympic torch in Hudson recently. See the article on the CYA website.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

2.4mR US Nationals and Open Worlds

Here is a wonderful report from Jenny Davey who was in Florida for the recent 2.4mR Big Show. Not only does she tell us the details of the regatta, but also gives us some insight on a class of boat unknown to Montreal sailors until now. My apologies for getting it online late. The job for money has been getting in the way! Thank you so much Jenny!
Ralph, Montreal Sailing
I've just returned from the 2.4mR US Nationals and Open Worlds held at the Edison Sailing Center in Fort Myers, Florida, November October 28 – November 6. I drove down with some boats and a couple of my PCYC/AQVA pals: Scott Lutes (Martin 16-turned-2.4mR sailor) and fellow coach Matt Palardy. Scott bought his 2.4 this spring after getting hooked when he chartered one at last winter’s Miami OCRs. We met up in Ft Myers with some of our good friends from the Nepean Sailing Club: Aaron Wong-Sing and Christine Lavallee (both Martin-to-2.4 converts) and Peter Wood, (long time NSC AbleSail volunteer and recently interim Exec Director of the CYA) who all keep their boats in Ottawa. AQVA has a great relationship with the Nepean program, and we look forward to developing the 2.4 fleet in the Montreal-Ottawa valley.

A quick intro to the 2.4mR, for those not familiar: The 2.4mR is the Paralympic single-handed boat and the class that brought Canada its first-ever sailing Gold, thanks to Nova Scotia’s Paul Tingley in Beijing! The 2.4mR, which evolved from the Mini-12, is a small (4.16m LOA) keel boat with a main and jib that uses a whisker pole on the downwind. It is in fact a construction class boat, but with essentially one class designer - Sweden’s Peter Norlin - it is often mistaken as a one-design.

The Martin graduates quickly learned that a start line with 45 aggressive 2.4mRs is very different from a start of 10 or even 20 Martin 16s. Scott, Aaron and Christine all learned a LOT - as did our 'veteran', Peter – but his years in many other fleets did serve him well in tight situations. The fleet was deep - take note that this was the ‘Open’ Worlds, meaning that sailors with disabilities and able-bodied athletes competed alongside each other on the same start line. I would guess the breakdown was about 60/40 able-bodied to disabled, including several Paralypmic medalists, as well as world, country and class champions from a variety of boats, accessible and otherwise.

Racing in Fort Myers was tricky. The US Nationals consisted of three days of light, shifty winds and temperatures that hit the mid-30s each day, burning into the low 40s with humidity factored in. The Caloosahatchee River is shallow – one boat actually ran aground on their way home from the racing area one day – with winds that swirl every which way depending on the temperature, sea breeze, and the clash of Gulf and Coastal weather systems. The compass pretty much hit 0-360 and everything in between while we there. Throw in the tides on top of it all, and sailboat racing gets interesting!

Scott had several strong races in the US Nationals: 13, 18 and 19 (on 39 boats) to finish 28th overall. Aaron and Christine were 34 and 35 respectively. We’re all learning quickly that some more work needs to be done to make each boat more ‘sailable’ by making adjustments to the layout inside the cockpit and some of the rigging systems in play so each sailor’s boat is perfectly tuned to their unique abilities. Imagine taking virtually every control you have on a Shark, cramming them all onto one slim dashboard in front of you, and you basically have the inside of a 2.4. This is already a lot to handle, especially at starts and roundings, so if you then imagine any sort of limitation – say decreased trunk stability, or diminished strength arm strength if you reach above chest level, it quickly becomes apparent how a carefully planned, intuitive layout is critical. However, we learned a lot by peeking into other boats and asking lots of questions!

The Worlds were more difficult all around for everyone: More boats, more intensity and more consecutive days of racing in extreme heat (yes, we were even bitching about the heat and sun after a few days). The whole fleet was more aggressive, sometimes with 2 or 3 Generals in a row, and the Black Flag soon became a fairly common sight. It gradually became more evident who was in really peak physical and mental condition as the days wore on - many of the top finishers were carded and/or full-time athletes. The last couple of days were really windy, ending with steady 18 knots gusting 20-25 on the final day. After 11 races, the event was won by USA Paralympian John Rufs, followed by fellow American Carl Horrocks, with Canada’s Paul Tingley rounding out the top 3. From our crew, Scott finished 36th on 44, Peter 32, Christine 39 and Aaron 41 (he couldn't race the last day due to equipment breakdown). Christine may have been the big winner though, as she came out of the event with a new boat, bought from none other than designer Peter Norlin himself!

A few interesting notes on who was in the top 10:

  • 5 athletes with disabilities (4 who ride wheelchairs) 
  • 5 able-bodied
  • A female sailor
  • 3 Top-5 Beijing ‘08 finishers
  • A 75-year old sailor
  • A 27-year old 49er campaigner
  • 5 countries represented (3 Canadian finishers!)

I got the chance to work with Paralympic coach Craig Guthrie (who coached Paul Beijing) and I learned a lot myself. The Canadian Sailing Team crew of Craig, Paul, Bruce Millar were great to our rookie gang and helped us each and every day. Craig even came over to our house to spend an evening discussing goal-setting, rig tuning, and tactics (in exchange for access to our washing machine and some dinner!).
I'm really proud of our gang and look forward seeing how they fare at the Miami OCRs in January.


PS. If you’re at PCYC (or even Nepean) be sure to look around for these guys and ask to check out their cool little boats!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Ice boat Quebec

Found this clip on You Tube via Scuttlebutt. What a blast. Check out the snow explosions. The local DNs will be out soon enough. - Ralph, Montreal Sailing