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