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...

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