Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ken's Favourite Race on Saturday

From the HYC Blog:

A favourite of Ken Hodgson, the Single Handed Race for the Lake of Two Mountains Gazette Trophy will be run on Saturday 31 July, warning signal 11:00.

A race traditionally set to challenge the skippers boat handling skills with a very unusual course, it is open to all classes. There will be a single start for all competitors and the race is limited to white sail.

Copies of the SI's will be available at the club and on

The Lake of Two Mountains Trophy was originally presented to the club in 1964 to be awarded for Club Championship in the GP14 Class. During the 1970's the participation in GP14's fell and the trophy was rededicated to the Class Winner, Miscellaneous Centreboards. In 1982 the trophy took on its current award to the winner of the Single Handed Race. Since then it has been won by such notable members amongst others as Greg Bowser, Ken Hodgson, Cork Winters, Ed Cowell and Ron Harris.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Overall Champion of Sailweek 2010 is...

Ketchup, under attack by two other Sharks, Blueshark and VO2 Max, yet another photo by wunderphotog Heather Deeks

drumroll please...  

Ketchup, skippered by George Stedman!

Ketchup has won the largest, most competitive fleet, PHRF 3 which includes all the Shark hotshots and the leading Tanzer 22, Encore Une Fois. None of the top three ran away with victories over the competition. Ketchup, like the other Sharks, Crisis in 2nd, and Eclipse in 3rd overall, won just won race. The Sailweek glory came from sailing more consistently in the upper tier of results.

Cheer on the team of Silver Phantom who are now ghosting by the "Silver" fleet. You probably haven't noticed, but Silver Phantom, crewed by Jake Fichten, has with the completion of Sailweek, surpassed the rest of us doing battle in the 2nd pack. It takes a long time to figure out how to get a Shark going at its fastest, frustratingly more so than some other boats. This is the Phantom's first full season here, and they are moving up the fleet as they quietly work away at it. We still get the occasional race above them, but overall, they are now doing better! Personally, I don't intend to let them get away with being the Rolls Royce slipping by the Chevys, so watch out. Call us brash, but we're out to fight!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sailweek closes with a Blowout

The wind was blowing the dogs off the chains during the PCYC Annual Regatta Saturday. The Environment Canada Marine Forecast was calling for 20-25 knots and possibly up to 30. I am pretty bad at estimating these things but I would say it was strongest in the beginning, at least a good 20 knots, and then eased a little but stayed very strong through the second race. For the third race, everyone was switching from their blades to their largest genoas. I often look at the airport data and then raise their measurements from kilometers of wind-speed on land to the same number of knots on the water. I have found this often roughly works out as the larger expanse of open area on Lac St. Louis allows the wind to increase speed. Environment Canada reported 26 km at the airport at 10:00 am, and then dropping to 20-22 km. That seems about right for my formula.

In the largest fleet, PHRF 3 it was all Sharks with the exception of John Linton's lone Tanzer 22, Encore Une Fois. Given the high wind tipping the odds heavily in favour of the Sharks, Encore did remarkably well to place mid-fleet, ahead of many Sharksters. The odds they faced this day showed how good they have become. Susan joined their regulars on this day, and it is impressive how that petite frame projects a voice equally as well as John's. Ah yes, constant, good communication is a key! Well done Encore.

The unofficial winner is that unmistakable green boat, the Rahn-racer, perennial contenders for top dawgs, the Shark with a bark, ECLIPSE! By placing second in each race, they proved to be the most consistent performers of the day. No boat was unbeaten by them, or ahead more than once.

There were 4 boats that were realistically contending for the winners' circle. George Stedman's orange-red Shark, Ketchup won the first race. Whenever, I see that boat mixing it up with the green team I want to re-name the Rahn boat, Relish. George was sailing with a work buddy today, and my, they are getting good! I remember when they had foul-ups to rival our own, but no more. They are pretty smooth. Pierre Carpentier's team on Nuisance, another perennial top dawg, was constantly in the hunt and won the second race. I guess they should be nicknamed the Mayo-Shark. Tof Nicoll-Griffith was absent today. His Shark, Crisis, interestingly was being helmed by middle-man Hugh Strudwick who it seems can do a great job on the tiller. They were in the game each race and won the third and final go-around. Way to go Hugh! Che Guevara was on board which I think is very cool. Hold onto that look as long as you can Kai!

On Mainsail, we put the pressure on poor Chris Cartier, who despite never sailing on the boat before, manned up and took the heavy wind pressure, unfamiliarity with the boat and its procedures, and occasional !"/$%?&* from me! A very big thank you Chris! He just kept on going through it all, and still fed me to boot. It was a pleasure having someone upbeat like him onboard. David Bowen leaped around as fixer-extraordinaire. Despite some foul ups, we had the superior Shark, #28, Kaos in our sights the whole time, just couldn't catch them. We did duke it out with Silver Phantom, and Chimera at the back getting ahead of them for a couple finishes. Overall though, we held fast to our official Backpacker status. One boat I chase that did wonderfully was Toy-Yot. They had some different sailors on board, and I would like some lessons please.

I was happy to see Laurence Creuzet on an Etchells. She always has a keen focus, but she looks particularly happy on that boat. I hope I can get her to go slumming on a Shark again sometime!

My favourite sailors, whatever the fleet, because of what they contribute on and off the water, Chinook won the first White Sail race in honking winds! They suffer a bit in my opinion, because that sweet sailing boat needs more wind to get up to its hull speed. They got too much of it this day, but handled the big blow just fine. Despite the heavy air, John and Esther Maclean took the first race. Rick Cartmel on the C&C Corvette, the handsome and classic locomotive train from the RStLYC also won a race and a second. They score a tie overall with Chinook for second and third. I suspect they will take 2nd on the tiebreaker! Clearly, the team that is odds-on favourite in the White Sail class are the folks sailing with Steve Benedetti on the Niagara 26, Moonraker. Wow, that is one very fast cruiser-racer! Those guys are keen and out there all the time. For this regatta they took two 2nds and won a race to come out on top overall.

How great is it to have such close matches? The top spots have been changing every race during Sailweek. Also, there have been great matches throughout the fleets, front, middle and back, as boats that are closely in contention with each other mix it up. This has been making the racing such a pleasure no matter where one is in the standings. Everyone has made Sailweek a huge success this year.

Mainsail will haul out now to effect some repairs. I want the boat in good shape for the next Shark one design regatta with the new fleet hosting at CNDM! We will be back on the courses in about a week, and taking it up a notch. See you then!

File photos by the ever impressive Heather Deeks

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sailweek has Another Race and Another Winner

Another team has come out on top during Sailweek. It's like they are taking turns in the PHRF 3 fleet. Tof Nicoll-Griffith and Crisis were beating the fleet in the recent Shark Canadian Championship. They also edged out Peter Rahn's Shark team on Eclipse which starred during the first Tuesday Good Neighbours Series. Then, Jin Frati's Shark pretty much ran away with the Beaconsfield Annual Regatta which are also the opening bouts of the week we call Sailweek. The next round for Sailweek was Tuesday evening and that race was canceled with the threat of electrical storms on the course. Last night, the racing resumed, and it was a very nice, light northeast wind that sustained itself throughout the evening. So who dominated last night. Another Shark. The latest winner, Vo2 Max.

Not only did they win the race, they pulled away from the fleet and stayed well ahead for the entire race. A number of Sharks and John Linton's Tanzer 22 mixed it up in the front, but Vo2 Max was so far ahead they essentially sailed there own race for the evening. Some speculated that they dug deep to the left on the first windward leg, heading to shore, deeper than anyone else.

Bravo to John Linton's team on Encore Une Fois for leading the pack after Vo2 Max. They fought off Jin Frati's Blue Shark and Tof's Crisis to hold down 2nd place. Kudos to the Fichten's Silver Phantom who also placed highly in the fleet last night. Jake, Cathy and Bruce now seem to be getting their newly acquired Shark moving well, and are moving back into familiar territory in the head pack.

On Mainsail, we were pleased with our progress. We are certainly not a threat to the top dawgs. Nevertheless, we are getting incrementally better and moving our boat speed and game along to compete well with the boats we consider better but approachable. My primary concern was to be right on the start line when the gun went off. In light wind, if I were to allow other sails to blanket us again, it would have been the kiss of death. It is a dilemna I have been familiar with, and I was determined not to let it happen to us last night. So, with a little less than a minute to go, I plunked the boat right on the line and rode down a bit till the gun went off. Like VO2 Max we kept left, and I think it helped. We did tack away about 3/4 up the windward leg, and may not have had quite as much pressure after that. We had a pretty good race, although boats we beat over the start, like Ketchup and Silver Phantom still managed to clobber us in the end. We fared well against many of the other Sharks. However, it was definitely a very nice, light but consistent wind suitable to the Tanzer 22s. So, not only did the T22 Encore Une Fois do very well, a hearty cheer has to be sent out to the T22 team Sorceress which capitalized on that and sailed very ably to place highly.

I'm not sure what happened in the other fleets, so I look forward to seeing the results when they come out. I can say it was pleasant to see boats we don't see often in our usual Tuesday and Thursday racing.. Being a Wednesday, the Lightnings were on the race course, and so were RStLYC boats. The quick boat out there has to be the J80 sailed by Peter Mcbride's crew.

Congrats to Don, his daughter on foredeck, and Nick, the killers on VO2 Max! See you all out there tonight for another go!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This is the Man!

Yes sir! This man is the winner of the opening bouts of Sailweek. Jin Frati, the man! Not only did he win the Beaconsfield Yacht Club Regatta, he did it as if he was that General, "Stormin' Norman". He and his team on Blue Shark convincingly won the first two races, and only then was beaten in the third by Tof Nicoll-Griffith and Crisis. Two bullets and a 2nd place in the first regatta of Sailweek. I think we have a new contender for Montreal Sailing's Top Dawg category. The action continues tonight.

Picture from Shark Canadian's by Heather Deeks.

Second Outing of Sailweek this Evening

Sailweek opened with 3 races of the Beaconsfield Annual Regatta last Saturday. Tonight, Sailweek continues with evening racing. Racing will continue tomorrow, Wednesday, then Thursday, and close with the PCYC Annual Regatta this coming Saturday. Pictured is Beverly Gilbertson's Tanzer 22, Sorceress returning to harbour after Saturday's racing. It will be interesting to see if tonight's racing in PHRF 3 becomes another battle between Blue Shark and Crisis.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sailweek Begins with BYC Annual Regatta

Today was the opening salvo of Sailweek 2010. 3 races of the Beaconsfield Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta. Then, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings are Sailweek’s evening races. Next Saturday is the Pointe Claire Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta to close things off.

Today’s regatta was typical Montreal mid-summer weather. Some threatening clouds initially, but the weather was most mostly sunny, hot, humid, and we sailed along via a light wind. Lots of shifting winds, little puffs, and swirly stuff kept the strategists guessing. Today's crew were regulars David Bowen (top pic) and Tavish McDonnell (pic below)

In the distance to the east were two very large fleets of boats on different racing courses. Oh yeah, the TRY dinghy regatta! I don’t think I have ever seen so many Lasers on Lac St. Louis. I sure hope some of them join the Good Neighbour racing series.

Our first race of the day was a disappointment. I had a poor start and trailed the fleet around the course unable to pick anyone off – DFL. Ugh, don’t wanna go back there again. Been there, done that. After the race, I discovered a huge wad of weeds on the rudder. My older Shark rudder is a little deceptive. Weeds can wrap around the lower squared section and not really be visible. I saw a few high up, and hung off the back of the boat to pull ‘em off. Yikes, I realized there was a large hedge hanging on the rudder lower down. It was larger than some of the bushes in my garden at home. We sailed backwards to be certain of getting everything off the rudder and keel.

The second race, we got a better start. I could feel the boat accelerate more as we crossed the line. I picked the right side, and we seemed to have a little more breeze for a while. With the wind being as fickle as it was though, I’m not confident one side consistently paid more than the other. The best side is an on-going debate between David and I!

On the downwind leg, I saw we could sail a higher course if we jibed right after rounding the windward mark. I also thought there was still a little more breeze on that side of the course (shore). We made good progress on both downwind legs. In fact, probably much more progress than on the upwind legs. We ended up ahead of 7 boats in this race, including a number of Sharks that I’m always measuring our progress against, because they are usually better. Sharks like Sudden Impulse, Toy Yot, Chimera, Crescendo, and Silver Phantom.

Indeed, indeed. Most of those boats re-asserted their supremacy in the third and final race. I think we may have held three off. The third race was more evidence of a repeated, significant weakness of mine: starts. We were approaching with good timing. However, I took Silver Phantom’s stern, instead of turning to beat windward of them. I was thinking I would have enough speed to come out the other side heading a little further from the committee boat. I figured there would be a large gap between the crowd at the RC and the Pin-heads.  Instead, almost the whole fleet sailed down the line and blanketed us and we almost totally stalled two or three boat lengths from the line – argghh! I make this mistake over and over again, because I’m afraid of getting stuck in the middle of traffic, or worse, squeezed into the RC. Instead I get stuck in neutral gear, trying desperately to get out from under other sails to windward. We tacked over to the right again quickly for clear air... but the damage was done. We did a fair bit of tacking to catch up to a few boats. Catching shifts helped a bit. We caught three boats and were targeting Toy Yot on the final run. Several times on the last run we were blanketed by larger boats or J24s. Every time we jibed to clear our air, we ran into another chute to windward. We made our way on the shore side again, as I looked for more pressure. We did get some and made progress. The last jibe towards the finish was a bid to sail high and fast. We probably would not have caught Toy-Yot, but there was a small chance. Then the wind went way forward, and because we were already on a high course, we had to switch to the genny.  Toy-Yot finished well ahead of us. Bravo Bill Lynam! Post-analysis of the today’s racing should be very interesting. Both Bill and I are using a GPS functioning knotmeter-compass called Speedpuck. We will be viewing our tracks on the computer soon. Cool.

Irregardless of the pressures and hard work racing against smarter, faster sailors, I feel we did pretty well today. We moved up the roster a bit from our usual place, and we are occasionally finishing up on the good gang. Many thanks to a sailor with real class, Judy Weiss, skipper of Crescendo, who recognized we had worked hard to catch up one leg to windward, and got them on one tack over their bow. She called out “Good on you Ralph” or some such comment. That felt good and it was generous of her!

Congratulations are in order to Jin Frati and crew on Blue Shark. I think they probably won the first two races and were close to first for the third race. They were on fire today! Tof N-G and Hugh Strudwick did very well today too, and probably won the third race. I suspect it is because they had one of my regular crew, Toby Jennings, working the foredeck for them. Dunno if they were third or not, but a Shark I like very much, VO2 Max was right up there too. Last two times I helmed that boat were winning occasions: First in last year’s Ishkoodah, first in this year’s RStLYC Annual. Nick Van Haeften played a bit of a role in that effort of course. At least,  I didn’t cramp his style!

My apologies to Rob Levy, whose Fireball we unintentionally leebowed. We were not in the same race, so I felt bad.

Seems to me. and crew David Bowen and Tavish McDonnell, that we are getting it better and better as the season progresses. Watch out, Montreal Sailors, we are on the hunt and rising!

Sailweek continues Tuesday, and the drama of the series will continue to build.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Fireball Friday

From the recent Fireball World's in Barbados. Looks like Peter on the wire. Photo by Urs Hardi.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Fireball Friday

Registering with Race Committee for an evening race in the recent Good Neighbours Series A.