Sunday, January 31, 2010

Heading South!

And there off!

Peter and Alex Rahn left early this morning, boat in tow, for that annual ritual of the winter regatta. It was -14c when this was taken. Their racing is expected to take place in about +20c. The cyclical migration is for the Annual Midwinter International Wayfarer Championship Regatta. They will be racing at the Lake Eustis Sailing Club which is a pretty busy club with a lot of dinghy fleets and regattas. It is situated a little north of Orlando, Florida. The Rahn family race their Shark here in the summer months, and are one of the winning teams the rest of us judge are progress by. Likewise, they are podium people in the Wayfarer class too.

Meanwhile, it is expected to reach a nice and mild -6c locally today with a nice light wind and snowfall. It's a good day to check the boat tarp!

Keep us posted guys!

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Shark, #901

It is blowing a fierce wintry wind out there today, so I'm taking a day off my Running to be Fit for Sailing Program. Instead, I'm perusing some photos for those warm and fuzzy feelings that make me wistful for the racing to come. This is a wonderful pic by Luka. Going forward is Tavish. David is on the low side making sure we don't tag the mark. That's me steering.

Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Physically Fit to be Mentally Prepared

Recently, I wrote that I am beginning a running "program" to try and improve both physical and mental fitness for sailing. I want to be healthier of course. In particular though, I am interested in increasing my ability to focus and stay sharp. So, I'm interested in the intellectual aspect. Since that post, I have noticed conditioning programs out there. Here is an excerpt from Annapolis Sailing Fitness which I think applies to all sailors and classes alike.

"Think to win
Recruitment of muscle fiber and the ability to function at a higher level separates you physically from your sailing competition. One major consideration is the effectiveness of clear thinking. Advanced exercise helps this process by stimulating blood flow, production of adrenaline and endorphins and most importantly: help in regulating stress and anxiety. Positive attitude, the mark of a true sailing champion, must be practiced as diligently as all the physical exercise combined. A healthy dose of choice reading material and good music can be key in assisting to nourish a good positive attitude. At Annapolis Sailing Fitness we seek to combine the best of both mental and physical conditioning."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Miami OCR Racing Begins Today

Montreal Sailing extends best wishes for success at the Miami OCR beginning today!

  • John Russell, Oliver Bone, CAN 55, 470-Men, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Matthieu Dubreucq, Trevor Parekh, CAN 123, 49er, Montreal, Quebec
  • Laurence Bonneau-Charland, 195935, Laser Radial, Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec
  • Martin Lefebre, CAN 39, RS-X Men, Montréal, Québec
  • Dominique Vallee, CAN 5, RS-X Women, Trois-Rivières, Quebec
  • Jessica Cano Escamilla, COL 5, RS-X Women, Montreal, Quebec
  • Richard Clarke, Tyler Bjorn, 8401 Star, Salt Spring Island, BC
  • Christine Lavallée, CAN 12, 2.4mR, Gatineau, Québec

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tribute For Brian Palfreeman

By Pierre Jasmin from the Montreal Etchells website

To all sailors,

As many of you know by now, our friend and fellow Etchells racer Brian passed away last Sunday. Louis B. asked me to write a few words about Brian as I knew him very well throughout the years of racing both with and against him and I am honored to do so.

It is always difficult to write about some one in situations like these and I wonder if I am up to the task of writing about a great man, but here goes anyway...

I have known Brian since joining PCYC around 30 years ago. I was a Fireball racer back then, and Brian was already a well known champion around the club. It was about 1988 that I bought my first keelboat, a Kirby 25 that I finally got acquainted more personnally with Brian, mainly through the Hudson annual dock parties on his Mega 30 and because of Mark, his son, who became a good friend of mine (and excellent party animal!). The years went by, and so did Brian's victories in PHRF and all that time Brian would always volunteer some wise advice after the race with his tongue in cheek style.

In 1995, I sold my Kirby to start my brewpub in Tremblant. Sylvie and I soon became Brian's crew and we sailed through to 2003 with him. About 5 years on the Mega, and then two more on the Etchells. There was never a single moment of yelling or panic aboard Brian's boats and always a good lunch provided by Mado. Sailing with Brian was always a relaxing experience and I had the chance to observe this master up close. What I learnt from him was to stay focused on basics, nothing fancy. Keep the boat moving with proper sail trim, make quick decisions on the game plan and stick to it, and in close encounters with doubtfull results, be a gentleman and let the other boat through (we'll get them later...).

The rest is history, a bunch of us bought a number of Etchells in 2003 and 2004 to build the actual PCYC fleet, and to this date Brian and crew were always a force to be dealt with. This fleet would never of happened without him.

Of course there is so much more to Brian than what I just wrote. I recall many long warm conversations with Brian and Mado during those endless hours of waiting for wind that us racers are so familiar with. My own dad passed away in 2000, and I felt a special bond with Brian building since then. He always had kind words for me and always took the time to stop by and say hello and chat about all and nothing. He was a genuine kind soul, the type of guy I would like to be.

I am not afraid to admit I loved him very much, and I feel as if my own dad has just passed away again. Brian has helped me become a better sailor, and more importantly, a better person.

I am sure you all join me in saying: "Good bye Brian, farewell my friend."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Sailing Community Mourns the Loss of Brian Palfreeman

I just received some devastating news from Larry. This has been posted on the CYA news site. I am thinking of Brian, Madeleine and PCYC - Ralph, Mntreal Sailing.

The Flag Officers, Executive Committee and Members of the Pointe-Claire Yacht Club bid a sad farewell to Brian Palfreeman and extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Madeleine and the members of the family.

In a distinguished sailing career which began during his boyhood in Essex England and continued over the next sixty years in Canada, Brian’s achievements as a competitive sailor were numerous.  The most notable of these were in the Tornado Class, when as members of the National Team preparing for the 1976 Olympics, he and Madeleine represented Canada, with much success, at numerous events around the world.

An impressive array of trophies, accumulated in a wide range of sailboats, attest to his skill as a yachtsman but do not tell the story of what he gave back to sailing in general and to the Pointe- Claire Yacht Club in particular. Brian was a true sportsman and his love of sailing extended far beyond his personal record of success on the racing scene.

As a CYA National Level Judge, Brian was widely-known and well-respected in sailing circles. He served in various positions on the PCYC Executive, and was the Regatta Chairman for events held at PCYC ranging from World, International and National Championships. Together with Madeleine he was a strong supporter of the AQVA and the PCYC Squadron. He will be remembered for his contribution to the success of their racing programmes.

His pragmatic approach coupled with a sense of humour enabled Brian to get things done on many fronts ranging from, organizing and running regattas, measuring, competing, judging, establishing the Etchells Class at P.C.Y.C., sharing his knowledge and experience with fellow sailors, to fixing club boats in his garage during the winter and even beachcombing along the shores of Lake St. Louis to retrieve wayward racing buoys.

To dwell solely on his achievements on the water would not do justice to Brian’s participation in and enjoyment of the social activities of the club. The jostling and joshing over a pint at the bar after an evening race or a long day on the water, to say nothing of the serious partying at Club Dinners and memorable Hudson Labour Day Regattas, these activities will never be quite the same. However, with Madeleine as our Commodore we will work together to deal with our loss and strive to keep alive the spirit of comradeship which we will always associate with Brain.

We of the P.C.Y.C community thank you Brian for all you have done over the years to bring credit to the club and provide us with memories which we will always cherish.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fat Old Sailor Considers Winter Workout

Even for those of us not going south for sailing opportunities, there is stuff to consider related to our sport right now, in the midst of winter. Part of that consideration, I've realized involves my physical conditioning.

Sure, we need to consider what work needs to be done to improve the boat for the upcoming season. I have some projects to be done. I need to order some new hardware. Another is repairs to damage on my rudder. I have the handrails in the basement for refinishing. I need to prepare a big list of boat work to be done when the weather warms. One can endlessly change priority lists, and add detail.

If that isn't enough fun for you, think about this; exercise to get in shape for the upcoming season. Now. In January. In the middle of the cold, icy, snow-laden, Montreal winter. C'mon, don't get thinking that if you have a cushy ride, with a comfy cockpit, in a gentle keelboat that to compete you don't need to have at least some kind of exercise regimen. Okay, to be honest, I don't have one yet either! I do know I need to work out though. First of all, I'd like to do some dinghy sailing. Even if that isn't on the horizon, and one isn't going to do an Olympic campaign, I think some endurance training of a very, very simple type is worthwhile. Why?

It isn't just for physical endurance. I'm thinking about mental focus. I found a number of times last season, I tired. I'm just another of those old, fat men that we know make up the huge majority of sailors. I think even some modest training of an aerobic nature, that eventually moves to longer duration, will improve my ability to tire less, and consequently keep my mental focus longer. During the distance races last season, I realize tiring meant my focus wasn't always as sharp. My mind could wander. Helming a race boat is more challenging then some crew may think. It involves a heightened sensitivity that needs to be really dialed in and sustained for a lengthy period. I would start considering things which were more properly the issues of other crew. My eyes and thoughts would wander excessively about the course. Maybe my helming would sometime slip out of that precise area where you are fully powered up, but still pointing well, where you are reacting deftly, nimbly, to stay right on the edge. Maybe there were times when I didn't report loss of feel to the rudder, or too much weather helm, and the crew therefore didn't adjust sail trim. During the Shark World Championships last season, the race days could get pretty long. Being sharp could mean the difference in how well we did race, after race, after race, day, after day, after day.

I remember when racing the Tanzer 22 in a serious storm, some crew were sick, and some were exhausted. The T22 is a very physically demanding boat in big wind. I needed to get off the helm and sort through trouble at the mast position. The ability to resolve the problem required sharp thinking and not being worn out. Both crew and skip need to have physical endurance and stay mentally sharp.

Mental focus. when one is tired, it's easier to lose. Mental focus can be the difference between doing well and poorly. It can also be the difference between having fun and doing well, or just sailing to get to the end.

So, I have decided that even without a looming Olympics, or even a Masters Laser Championship on the horizon, I will increase my endurance and ability to focus for longer. How? Aerobic exercise. In my case, I went out for a run yesterday. Arrgh, a cold wind bit into my skin, and I'm in poor shape, but it did feel good to get it done. Today, I'll walk to get the stiffness out a bit. Tomorrow, I'll run again. While working out, I will play a meditative game with myself. The idea will be to relax, stay focused on my work out. If my mind wanders, that's okay. At least I am out there. I figure, each week, my physical endurance, and my ability to focus should have incrementally improved.

My preferred exercise is running, but any aerobic activity will help. Running somehow seems very simple and pure. No equipment or competitors to be a distraction. I have a very specific style. I like company, but I know I achieve my best focus when alone. I'm not working with the team here. I'm developing my self. I have been through this before. I know, that once my conditioning improves enough, and it doesn't take much, I will develop a rhythm of movement and breathing, keeping it slow and easy, while maintaining a comfortable but higher than normal state. My reach with legs and arms will be a little more than normal, but only slightly. I know from experience that this level of exercise will get the endorphins up, the work out will feel good, and that I can then continue this for a longer period of time. The "LSD" or Long Slow Distance work out. Initially the LSD will actually be very short. Initially, the excursions will not feel good. Before long though, the rhythm and focus will come. Hopefully, by spring, my workouts will have increased in time and distance, and so will my ability to stay focused longer. Work out, but easy. Focus, but relax. Exercise, and meditate. They are not oxymorons. One doesn't need to become an "Athlete". The idea is to use physical movement to train the mind too. Yep, it's a Zen thing.

Here is another tip on how to accomplish this state of being in your work out. Focus on the exercise and your body's movement through it. Especially your breathing. Be keenly aware of your inhaling, exhaling. Get into a space where your running establishes a pace that is maintainable over a longer period. Deepen your awareness and even the enjoyment of it till all other thoughts slip away. I become aware of the synchronicity of all my limbs. Not because it is any great physical technique. I'm just trying to get away from all other thoughts. I even feel my hands extending low and further ahead of me as I run, and moving in the same way as a minimal impact of my leg's stride. That is the state I'm hoping to regain in my upcoming workouts. I know it will not be this easy at first. Then, I will feel it in fits and starts. Eventually, as I improve my physical condition it will allow me to go longer, and my focus will become more relaxed and keen.The greatest thing is achieving the runner's high, that state when you feel warm, loosened up, and real good. When I get it right, my focus is total but effortless. My head tilts back a bit, a smile subtly traces my face, and I am the master of my world in which all is right. Yeah, that is a good feeling!

I think I can transfer the increased endurance, the physical ability, that heightened sense of awareness, and that ultimately, better mental focus to my helming. If it sounds like a stretch, think of those long tacks where everything is set just right, you are helming right in a perfect groove, and the boat's movement feels fast but effortless. The boat is quiet and quick. You're hand on the tiller feels perfect control. Everything is right in the world right? When you experience those times sailing, do you feel healthy and free? See the similarity, the connection?

Of course, there is more to physical fitness, the right state of mind, and sailboat racing. There is also short, intense training, and quick tactical action. There are other correlations to physical and mental training. Right now though, for me, it is time to build a base of physical and mental conditioning. The rest must follow. For me, I need to begin at the beginning. Long, slow distance. More capacity or endurance, focus and being content. Then, I will get faster, and faster. It is winter now, the right time. Spring is coming.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

CYA Employment Opportunity: Training and Competitions Administrator

Hey, this looks like a fun job. It's at CYA HQ in Kingston. That is not within commuting distance to Montreal, but it isn't far. They have vastly better winds then we do here! Click here for further info. - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

The Canadian Yachting Association (CYA) is seeking an enthusiastic individual to fill the full time position of Training and Competitions Administrator. The position will have the individual working at the CYA office in Kingston, Ontario. The Assistant reports to the Training and Competitions Manager.

The key areas of responsibility for this position include, but are not limited to:

Assisting day to day activities of the Training and Competitions Manager, who oversees initiatives of -
  • Long Term Sailor Development - Review and Implementation
  • Coach Education
  • National training standards for sailors, coaches and officials
  • National competitions – hosting and sailor tracking
  • Sport Development and Participation
Administration of -
  • Coach registrations and communications
  • Official certifications and communications
  • National and International event hosting programs
  • Resource updating and development
  • Meetings of committees and volunteer groups
  • Participation initiatives
  • Website and database
  • Communications
 This position includes occasional travel and work in evenings / on weekends.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Basic Boating Course Announced

The West Island Power and Sail Squadron is offering the basic Boating Course offered by the CPS. It will be starting on Monday, Jan 18th at 7pm at and will be held in the Beaconsfield Yacht Club clubhouse.  This is a first course covering the fundamentals of safe boating and basic navigation, given once per week for 13 weeks.  Registration can be done on the spot.  Bring your friends.  The course will be taught in English. If you would like to take the course in French, please communicate with us at and we would be delighted to help you.

Pour plus d’information de les cours offert  en français, S.V.P communiquer avec

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Oh No, Laser Temptations, Yet Again.

The Montreal Laser fleet is bugging me. They annoy me pretty consistently around this time of year. They had a lot of gall announcing their spring training camp yesterday. It's January. It's snowing outside right now. I'm watching it accumulate on the outdoor furniture this very moment. According to the official demographic experts, sailors are commonly skiing right now. Louis and those sly marketing dinghy people even say they are going to make training camp less expensive this year. Don't they know the same demographics I read?

Demographics of a Sailor

    * 94% of sailors are male
    * The average age of a sailor is 55 and married.
    * 78% are college graduates
    * 48% have post grads or degrees
    * Average household income is $239,500
    * Average household net worth is $1,360,000
    * 94% of sailors own their own home.
    * 91% of sailors fall into the managerial, professional or technical fields

Sources: SAIL Magazine Subscriber Study 2003 MR! 2008, MMR 2008
Sailors hike, backpack, swim, cycle, ski, jog, or play tennis.

Okay, so listen up District 2 Laser class. You have no right successfully drumming up another one design fleet. Don't you know sailboat racing decreased in popularity in Montreal last season? Supposedly, we're all too old! We make way too much money to sail wee little boats. And, I repeat, it's winter, so we really aren't supposed to be tempted into thinking about a much more exciting boat. Please go skiing.

It's almost unscrupulous to tempt us now. I just received a new fitted winter cover for my old Shark (keelboat) to replace the torn, heavily snow-laden plastic tarp. That is all I am supposed to be thinking about right now. I just finished paying big yacht club bills last month. I'm trying to figure out how to buy new a new windward sheeting car and a big genoa. How did you know I don't fit the wealthy old man demographic? Now, you go and get me thinking about the same thing as last year: inexpensive sailing. C'mon, what an oxymoron! Don't you know I'm way too rich, and way too old for a Laser? I should be buying a brand new Etchells and paying some rock star to guide me around the course in Florida, or at least go up against the very friendly Etchells gang competing here. Oh no, you go and post notices of 2nd hand lasers that cost less than I paid for sails, and freakin' boat and trailer maintenance last season. Just stop it you guys. And, if I hear there might be a few good lookin' women in your fleet, well that would be the last straw.

Nuff said,
Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Local Laser Training Camp Announced

I thought I'd put up this video since Louis has posted the following notice on the District 2 website - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

The D2 Laser Training camp is tentatively scheduled for May 29-30 at PCYC. This year the camp will be more affordable and the format made even better. More info to come!

Louis B.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Etchells Fleet #3 AGM 2010

I had a good time meeting the Etchells sailors at their recent AGM. I must say that beer and wings help a lot. The Etchells sailors are a great Montreal fleet, and in the midst of winter, even hangin' is a good time. I really did enjoy their company. These gatherings are important events for the quality of our sailing. If your one design class, or sailing buddies are having a meeting, share the news. It will raise your profile, but hey we all just like to know with who, and where we can sail! Thanks Scott Lawrence for the news! I have some great photography of the local Etchells racing scene by Luka, and I'll post them periodically to keep us anticipating the upcoming season. - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

On Tuesday January 5, Montreal’s Fleet #3 Etchells sailors gathered at Clyde’s in Pointe Claire to usher in the New Year, furtively watch two hockey games, and conduct their Annual General Meeting. Attendance was at an all-time high, due either to the free beer and wings, or to the presence of special guest and Montreal Sailing blogger extraordinaire Ralph Stocek, or to the fact that the Montreal Etchells fleet enjoyed perhaps the most successful year in its history.

Highlights of 2009 included:
  • The Etchells Canadians, which were hosted at Hudson Yacht Club as part of HYC’s 100th anniversary celebrations and drew boats from Montreal, Toronto and Lake Champlain, 
  • The Quebec Championships, which were held at Pointe Claire Yacht Club in mid-June and won by Pierre Jasmin and crew on Vivace, 
  • And HYC’s Labour Day regatta, in which 11 Etchells competed, with CAN 1089’s Scott Lawrence and crew taking both line honours and first place on corrected time at Saturday’s Long Distance race.

At the AGM, Fleet Captain Allan Gray outlined some of the local Etchells regattas for 2010, which will include the Quebec Championships, to be held in Hudson at the beginning of June, and the Lac St. Louis Challenge Cup, which will be held later in the summer at PCYC. A special effort will be made this year to get some of the sailors from the Lake Champlain fleet up for these events.

Other regattas in the planning stages include a Ryder/Americas’ Cup challenge involving the Montreal and Toronto fleets—a new event that will combine two days of team golf and two days of match racing—and a CanAm challenge between Montreal and Burlington fleets.

Fleet 3 also officially welcomed its newest member, Stephane Arsenault, who is sailing out of Pointe-Claire, and tried to confirm rumours that there would soon be another boat appearing at the start Mark in Hudson….

The Fleet is also planning another get-together this winter at David Lowther’s country place in the Laurentians—a day of skiing followed by a pot-luck dinner and a racing rules quiz. Hopefully we can get this organized for the end of February.

For more fleet info, we encourage you to contact either Fleet Captain Allan Gray at, Fleet Secretary Scott Lawrence at, or simply to sign up to receive email alerts at our website,

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Dubreucq & Parekh at 49er World's

Picture from the event on Matthieu's blog. Tuesday's racing saw average winds of 18 knots with gusts into the high 20's. They're having fun, right?  - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Matthieu Dubreucq and Trevor Parekh are part of the Canadian contingent attending the World Championships being held in the Bahamas for the 49er and 29er classes. They are campaigning the Olympic class 49er. 

First, they brought the skiff to Miami to have work done including aligning the foils. They got in a practice race in very light winds. Racing began in winds of 6-12 knots with large shifts that made conservative strategy paramount. The second day of racing had the fleet racing in 25-30 knots of wind, but with the big shifts in direction still fluctuating by 25 degrees and more. After 5 races they were sitting in 43rd position overall out of a fleet of 62.

Wednesday's racing was very tricky right at the windward mark where big shifts would suddenly screw up teams preparing to round. Unfortunately, the third day's results were killers for Dubreucq and Parekh with two OCS' recorded. The qualifying rounds saw them finish in 50th overall, and poised for more sailing in the Silver fleet. They have scored 23rd out of 37 in that fleet. Thursday, the wind died before the Silver fleet could start a race.

Friday's winds were 10-14 knots. Only 7 minutes separated front and back of the fleet at the finish.

This regatta, although a World championship is a shakedown for their next outing, which will be the selection for Canada's national team. Here is an excerpt from an article written in French for Sportcom:

Dubreucq et son partenaire en sont à leurs deuxièmes championnats du monde ensemble, le résultat n’est pas ce qui importe le plus. Le duo veut surtout se préparer pour les épreuves de sélection nationale qui auront lieu dans deux semaines. « Notre but c’est vraiment de prendre de l’expérience ensemble et on prend vraiment cette régate-là pour bien régler le bateau et s’assurer qu’on navigue correctement en vue des qualifications nationales, parce que c’est pour nous la compétition la plus importante, cette année. En plus, c’est la première étape de la Coupe du monde, donc on ne se laisse pas abattre avec les résultats », a-t-il poursuivi.

Il reste trois jours de compétitions pendant lesquels les bateaux devraient participer à un total de huit courses, si naturellement la température le permet. C’est donc le samedi 9 janvier que l’on connaîtra le résultat final de cette compétition.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Etchells Fleet 3 AGM

Above is a nice, descriptive little video on the Etchells class.

Montreal Sailing extends best wishes for the new year and the upcoming season to Montreal's Etchells racers. The Etchells Fleet 3 has its annual general meeting this Tuesday. One of the most successful of one design racing fleets in Montreal, they will be discussing the 2010 schedule, fleet building, and possible winter activities. More info on the meeting and the class can be found on their website which is in our link collection.

Ralph, Montreal Sailing