Monday, September 27, 2010

Mobility Cup Regatta Report – AQVA

Jenny Davey, who has had a long-time association with the Association québécoise de voile adaptée (AQVA) treats us to this report on the Mobility Cup, which was held where she has been hanging this summer, Vancouver. Thanks Jen! - Ralph, Montreal Sailing.

Just got back from the 2010 Mobility Cup, hosted by the Disabled Sailing Association of BC and held at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. I was holding sort of a dual role at this event: I was called in at the last minute to help AQVA with their large contingent of sailors, but having spent the summer working at the Disabled Sailing Association of BC in Victoria, I also pitched in to help the three athletes and new coach Hannah Brady from the BC program.

It was a challenging week of racing for both fleets as English Bay was stingy with her winds – not to mention sun - all week. Thankfully, the competent RC was able to eke out as much racing as possible from the fickle breeze and each fleet completed enough races for a drop – 5 in total for Gold and 7 for Silver.

AQVA put once again put on a strong show. Montreal’s Hafsa Chaar took home the title in Silver Fleet, with 3 bullets over 7 races (her drop was a lowly 3rd!). She sure looked proud hosting the Silver Fleet trophy known as the Coupe Dallaire, named after our own René, as well as the Debbie Donald Memorial Trophy for Top Female Skipper. Hafsa led a string of skilled female sailors at the top of the Silver leader board: finishing 2nd was Clare Adams of Ontario, followed by Sara Cooper of Calgary and Karell Regnier of Gatineau (who sails with our good friends at the Nepean program).

Philippe Lepage of AQVA sailed a consistent event to finish 5th in his first season racing. My Victoria rookies were right behind: Mike Carpenter had a great first-ever regatta finishing 6th and his teammate Mary Causton-Budac (also in her first event) was in 7th just ahead of long time AQVA sailor Pierre Yves Levesque in 8th.

It was thrilling to see the level of competition in Silver Fleet this year! The quality of racing has been steadily improving over the past few seasons as the sailors push each other more and more, and the first start of the regatta was a treat to watch as almost all 17 boats hit the line on time with speed – impressive considering it was a first season, if not first race, for many.

The whaat!?
In Gold, a strong fleet and fussy weather meant tough competition in the 18 boat fleet. The wind was particularly unkind to the Gold fleet, which had to battle hard to stay focused in drifter conditions during long waits between races. 3 of their 5 races were only squeezed in on the last day of the event when the breeze finally kicked in more steadily. Calgary dominated the top of the podium with Merle Hickey taking the Mobility Cup home, 3 points ahead of teammate Robb Lawrence. Upon accepting the trophy, Merle dedicated his win to Marc Landry, our dear friend and fierce competitor who passed away last spring. Christine Lavallee – another Gatineau sailor out of the Nepean Sailing Club – sailed well to clinch 3rd. AQVA sailors Marc Villeneuve and Pierre Richard tied for 4th, with Pierre taking 4th on the tie breaker and Marc rounding out the top 5, in his first season in Gold Fleet. Sip n’ Puff sailor René Dallaire struggled somewhat with equipment and consistency, but had strong moments and eventually finished 15th.

AQVA’s solid performances really speak to the coaching of Jean-Felix LeBlanc and Emilie Leonard, who ran the Race Program at Pointe Claire this season. 

And of course, no Mobility Cup could be re-capped without mention of Dock Bitch extraordinaire, Paula Stone (can you write that in the blog, Ralph? It is her official title!). Paula once again stepped in to volunteer her expertise in boat charter and companion assignments, and let me tell you the regatta would not have gotten off the ground without her tireless efforts.

Way to go AQVA! Now we look forward to the winter 2.4mR events and planning next year’s Martin circuit...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fireball Screwball To Be Canadian Nationals and Feature Coaching

The upcoming Fireball Regatta is the big racing event in Montreal this coming week, and it all starts on Thursday. Here is a call out from Joe Jospe, probably the pre-eminent Ball booster, and the fleet's hottest sailor. As of last week, they have some super initial numbers that look like about 21 teams for the regatta. Joe and the fleet are looking for any closet Fireballers, or so-far undeclared teams from near and afar to get in touch. It looks like it'll be busy! Having a talented Fireball competitor and coach, who also happens to be a Director of the International Fireball Association, coming all the way from England to help everyone improve their game is brilliant. What a great way to make a regatta a more special event. Given the Limey connection, I thought I'd include some pics of an event Joe and Tom Egli did pretty well at, the 2008 National Championship in England.  - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Based on early responses, rumors, and an absence of confirmed denials, we have a preliminary list of attendees for the combined Screwball/ Canadian Nationals coming up in less than two weeks time. If your name is missing from the list below, please contact me as soon as possible to get in on the action. This should be the best attended event this year in North America, and you really want to be there. We really want you to be there. There might even be a boat available to borrow. In addition to what will inevitably turn out to be excellent racing, we are offering much more this year.


Andrew Davies will be providing coaching beginning on Thursday, September 23rd, at 1 p.m. and throughout the afternoon and the weekend. The plan is to go out on the water and participate in drills. Andrew will be on a coach boat, and will be providing feedback to help every boat improve their boat handling, sail trim, starting, and tactics. He will be equipped with a video camera, and we will have an opportunity to review the afternoon’s action later on shore. Andrew has agreed to analyze the action on the water throughout the racing and comment on every boat’s performance after sailing. This is an invaluable way to step our respective games. Andrew has extensive experience coaching at top competitive levels in the Fireball class. He has coached the Swiss and Czech teams and others, in addition to an impressive racing resumé in the Fireball class. Andrew is the Secretary of Fireball International, and always a welcome guest.

The Bar

will be open to celebrate success, good company, or to help forget the inevitable mishap on the water. A gathering of this many Fireball sailors from across the country is guaranteed to be fun.

The Dinner

Our planning committee has put together a delicious menu for Saturday evening. We will be treated to a Greek feast, with a range of choices to suit all. We would appreciate knowing if you are planning on bringing any non-sailors, as space is limited, and we do not want to turn any Fireball crew or friend away.

The Entertainment

Screwball has developed some intriguing traditions over the years. John McGuinness has put together an entertainment plan for the evening that combines music and humour. Stephanie might even have written another musical ode to the Fireball fleet, as she has done for the last couple of years.

The Prizes

In addition to the serious stuff, Screwball is the one event on the agenda where we try and send everyone home with a prize. Our prize-giving ceremony is really quite unique. The Crew’s Union will reward all heroics appropriately. Andrew McCrae and Peter Kelly, a long-time team as prize-givers, have teamed up on the water as well. We can only wonder what the extra time together will yield. Their goal is to send everyone home with a smile and thanks for attending and being part of the fun.
The Dates

Coaching will begin on Thursday, September 23rd at 1 p.m. Racing is scheduled to start on Friday, September 24th at 1 p.m., and continue on Saturday and Sunday. The Notice of Race is available at

See you there.

Joe Jospe

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Let's go racing!

Great day for our fall GNS series beginning in the morning with 3 races. The forecast is: wind light becoming southeast 10 to 15 knots late Sunday morning. Lets all go and have a super day! The first warning signal is 10:00 hours.

Photo by Heather Deeks

Monday, September 06, 2010

Ketchup: Meet Spiderman's Supermen

Sigh, every now and then I forget that a lot of people who read this blog happen to be racing the same races I do. I get much needed blogger's ego building support, which compensates for my sailing performance. But also, if something doesn't seem quite right, or deserving of a different comment, I hear about it. And I am very happy that I do! Etienne Portelance noticed that the recent picture of Ketchup and crew was not the same victorious crew as the race I was reporting on: "It's the wrong crew on the boat!!!" True enough the photo was from the previous week end, and George was sailing with Jake and Peter. Etienne and Courtney were the supermen on board when they won the Hudson Distance Race in the big blow this past Saturday. Etienne also helped me out by finding a dead link in the directory at left. I appreciate the heads up. Several regular readers have said they would like more frequent posts too. Every now and then, a guest article saves the day for me! Here comes Etienne to the rescue with some more feedback on Hudson's big race, and the guy some of his old buddies call Spiderman. (Hey, maybe someone else can explain the spidey reference some time!) - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Hi Ralph, here is a short article on Ketchup (to be pronounced Catch-up) George and me.

I met George 14 years ago. I sailed against him before sailing with him. I sailed on a Fireball he had sold and wondered at how he could make it go so fast as nothing worked very well.  Then he came up with this big orange boat with faded color.  A Shark was OK as a second boat, one to have picnic with the family, but certainly not a racing boat.  He had an emotional attachment to it as the boat had been in the family since it had been built. 

14 years later, the Shark Canadians are in Beaconsfield and the Shark worlds are in the same place a year later.  I've participated in two world championships before and it has been a great learning experience both times.  I wanted to sail both events without sacrificing  too much family time.  The compromise: Noé, my 4 year old son is often with us on the boat, and I only sail Tuesdays.  George's 4 year old son Mathew is also a regular crew.

George decided his most regular crew would be with him for the Hudson annual long distance race: Paula and Courtney.  I had told George I had never sailed in this race, that I was interested.  When Paula said she was unavailable, I was pleased I could sail with Courtney and George.  Courtney is a big guy, who had not had the chance to sail when he was young.  He modestly calls himself a puppet: "When somebody asks me to pull a rope, I pull a rope."  He understates as he knows what to do in a lot of situations on the boat, but an illness has left him less mobile and agile than most people, so I took the foredeck position this time.

The start of the Hudson long distance race was a confused place. Without a VHF, we had no idea when the countdown started.  I looked at the line and contradicted George when he wanted to get a closer look at the committee boat: "Better to start two minutes late at the pin than right on time at the boat."  So we looked at the fleet and tried to guess what was going on when we decided to go for it.  George said it was probably 4 minutes late. It felt like all the fleet was over the line, but they were still below us, so only a few boat were far ahead of us at the start.  It's a long distance race in boats where the corrected time is most important.  The bigger boats have an advantage: potentially they sail in better wind as they should get it first.  On
a small boat like the Shark (possibly the slowest boat in the race) we sail in air that has been bent around the sails of lots of faster boats, so it is difficult to sail as fast as the boat's potential.

George is a lot tougher than he looks, he played the main, traveler, backstay and rudder for the first two thirds of the race.  I was never bored though I didn't have much to do, we stayed in the middle, looking at boats catching up to us from one side, then from the other. It always looked better away from where we were.  Then there was a really big gust.  The first boats rode that gust all the way from the top mark to the end.  We were on a close reach while they were on a broad reach.  After the top mark, the wind dropped a notch so we decided to fly our chute.  George had an old spinnaker from the days when triangular courses were the norm.  It was stealthy silent, but narrower, so we could point higher than those with the pure downwind chutes that are used today.  When a stronger gust came, the chute came down, but it went back up when the gust was over.

The boat's newest sail in heavy air is the 5 year old main. (The genny and running running spinnaker are a little more recent). One important modification was done to the backstay recently: it now has a cleat on both sides.  It has inherited 40 years of tools and parts that have their home in the cabin.  A big bucket was not enough to empty the water that had leaked in during the three hour race.  "Why three oars George?"  "Because I own three."  I have sailed on boats where a person on board would inspect the duffel bags of the other crew to make sure nobody brought too much stuff.  Not George.

George called me today to say that we had won the race by 24 seconds on corrected time.  He was very happy as it was the third time he had won this race. I'll keep sailing with the skipper who tolerates all the questions and moods of two vivacious 4 year olds.  Thanks George!


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Hudson's Annual Distance Race Blew Us Away

Ketchup,from files, CNDM One Design 2010

Saturday, the wind blew pretty darn hard for the Hudson Annual Distance Race. In fact, it was the highest blow I have seen so far this season. Windspeed recorded at the airport ranged from 35 km/h to 43 km/ according to Environment Canada (Don't let the file photo above fool you). It was far, far higher on the open water of course, jumping around between 20 and 30 knots according to the more sheltered BDYC. On wider waters like L2M, and in the frequent, powerful gusts it was much higher yet.

The impact of heavy air on the racers was clear to the eye. There were fewer boats on the start line as the most sane stayed away. 88 boats registered, down from the usual 100 or so. Of the boats racing, just 63 finished the race. The carnage was plentiful. On Mainsail, we were probably having our best race ever, since the high winds gave our Shark an advantage. Unfortunately, near the Oka church, our mainsail halyard blew apart, and we were out of it. Paul Baehr's Shark suffered a similar fate when they lost their genoa halyard. Very likely the greatest indignance of all was a severe blow dealt to BlueShark. Jin Frati's Shark had just rounded the final windward mark for the run home when a lower shroud gave away, causing the mast to snap in two! No one was hurt, but Jin of course was in sight of top dawgs as usual when knocked out of contention.

The big winner is George Stedman and his team on the Shark, #422, Ketchup. This is the 2nd recent year that George has won this race if memory serves me correctly. George also won Sailweek earlier this season. George had an amusing comment for readers of Montreal Sailing. He says the race included "The longest 24 seconds I have ever experienced". Ketchup scores victory based on a lead of 24 seconds of corrected time over the next boat, David Lowther's Etchells. Ketchup crossed the finish line 18 minutes after David's Impudence to score the PHRF victory. Hence the long, nerve wracking 24 seconds!

Etchells, J22s, and Sharks dominated the top ten, and here it is:

  1. Ketchup, George Stedman, Shark, #422
  2. Impudence, David Lowther, Etchells, #931
  3. Slim, Allan Gray, Etchells, #1053
  4. Quill, Scott Lawrence, Etchells, #1089
  5. Boy-Toy, Bill Lynam, Shark, #729
  6. Jack, Ron Harris, J22, #1421
  7. Jazz, Kathy Harris, J22, #693
  8. Perceval, Serge Thiffault, J29, #92
  9. Ying Yang, Michael Anderson, Shark, 438
  10. Still Lost Boys, Paul Laflamme, Etchells, #321
Congratulations to everyone sailing the big air!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Montreal Shark Showdown: CNDM One Design Regatta

The CNDM One Design Regatta is open to any class with enough boats, but one class showed, and made it a big and important event.

Shark Showdown. That is what this became. A lot of Montreal Sharks have been shoving each other around the course, vying for that leader of the pack designation, that heft to be head of the howling hounds. And it has taken a lot of shoving to be at the top of this competitive heap. The very first Lac St. Louis race of the year in the spring saw 10 Sharks out on the course right off the bat.

In the first major away-regatta, Trillium in Toronto, Tof Nicoll-Griffith and the Crisis team were the top Montreal boat. At the Canadian Championship at BYC, Crisis were again top Montreal boat. Would they always dominate? No! Then, Peter Rahn and the team on Eclipse gave Crisis a serious run for the top in the local racing, often putting into question who would win the series. In the end, Crisis took the first series with a razor-thin margin. But this was not just one mano-a mano battle for two. Jin Frati crashed that party and whooped both of the others in convincing fashion in one particularly notable race. VO2 Max took a race, Nuiscance was always hovering at the top tier. Eclipse took the last regatta of Sailweek in a nail-biter. George Stedman's Ketchup ultimately triumphed over everyone to take the highest overall standing for Sailweek. So many contenders and different victors! A showdown was needed to settle the score. Who could struggle through to the top, and could any one boat dominate this class?

Along comes the CNDM One Design Regatta. This is it, the final shoot out, the Shark showdown in the CNDM corral. Almost all the Montreal racing Sharks came. Environment Canada clocked windspeed for the region in the 20-25 knot range, but in the sheltered bay where racing took place it was probably in the mid-teens - perfect for Sharks. Perfect for a streetfight! Here, we would have it out. CNDM would be the place the score was settled. This would not be simply cruisin' for a bruisin'. Top dawgs tails were wagging because the wind was up and so were the rights for bragging.

Well who has the hots when the wind clocks? VO2 Max. They killed the fleet. Eight races, all in brisk wind, against the best Montreal competition, all at CNDM. Here were their scores. 1,1,2,1,3,7 (drop),1.They came, sailed, and conquered!

  • Don Osborne, Helm
  • Nick Van Haeften, Middle
  • Matt Osborne, Foredeck
Remember those names! How did they so convincingly take this climatic Shark regatta at CNDM? Well, it seems they had the geography figured out. They knew where the wind was bending, and were ready to tack when they hit the right spot. Me, I know when the wind picks up, this team is ready. When the white caps are rushing, they rock.