Sunday, August 21, 2011

Star 2011 Montreal Open

Much thanks to Brian Cramer for passing on this super report, so we can all keep abreast of the news from an important Montreal one design fleet. I look forward to sailing at CNDM next week, a jewel of the Montreal clubs. - Ralph

Every year for the past 7, Star boats gather at Vaudreuil-sur-le-lac for racing on Lac des Deux-Montagnes.  The special nature of the club, the lake and the local Star Fleet has made the trip one of the good regattas in a summer season.

This past weekend was no exception.

Friday was a perfect day for setting up the boat.  Boats started to arrive at noon with the goal of getting the mast up and some practice time on the lake.  Local Star sailor Philippe Hofer greeted the travelers with an open tool kit, combinations to gates and washrooms etc.  There was a plan to get on the water as soon as crews arrived for some speed training, important set-up for any regatta.

Saturday morning started with a skippers’ meeting on the front lawn of the Club Nautique Deux-Montagnes. Three races are planned for the day with a start time of 10:30 am. Everyone gets to the starting area, but unfortunately the wind disappeared for 30 minutes.  Like magic, the breeze fills in from 210 degrees and the first race sequence begins. 

Sometimes the decision to travel up the port or starboard side involves wind strength and angle.  On this lake, there is a current flowing from the west to east which also must be considered and for race 1 it looked like a port side favoured windward leg.  Most of the competitors recognized this strategy and fought for the pin end.  A couple of tacks up the first leg and the leaders were in the left side of the course.  Rick Shousha went the farthest to the left and was rewarded with a first place rounding.  On the first downwind the pattern of jibing on the shifts began to show its advantages and the leaders gained some big distance on the fleet.  Two more legs with mostly the same pattern and the first race is complete.  Rick hangs on for a fourth place finish, his best of the regatta.

Race two waits for a shift in the windward mark but once started it is a repeat of the first.  Fight for the pin end and protect the left side of the course.   A much bigger bunch up at the first mark but again jibing at the right moment paid big dividends on the first downwind.  Race 2 ends with the leaders enjoying a big lead but Hendershot and Folsetter fight for position 2 and 3. 

Still good winds (8-10kts) so a third race is planned.  As the afternoon progressed the wind shifted to 220 and finally 230 degrees.  That changed the starting strategy as the committee boat became favoured.  Again the fleet recognized the advantage and there was a collection at the right end of the line.  John Draper who was competing in his first Star regatta had a great start and pushed the fleet to the left.  Once he tacked the rest followed and waited patiently for the first shift.  One minute into the last race and a right shift hit the leaders.  Tack on the headers and the first group started to separate from the back markers.   With the breeze starting to shift more to the north the downwind winning formula was to pass on the north side of the course.  Folsetter passed Cramer on the first downwind using the north pressure to his advantage.  Some tacking and covering resulted in Folsetter getting a big lead.  Cramer recognized the advance of third place Hendershot and tacked to the left side to cover.  Both these two were close to the port layline when the wind shifted 30 degrees in their favour.  Folsetter immediately started to race to the left side but arrived on the Cramer/Folsetter line two boat lengths late giving up the lead for the leg and race.

Saturday night dinner was hosted by the Hofer’s at their lakeside summer home.  Very good food with all the competitors and some of their families made it an event highlight. 

Sunday was going to be tricky racing as the forecast was for thunderstorms but the committee planned for two races.

After setting the starting line, it became apparent that the left side was favoured and again a fight for the pin end started with about a minute left.  Rick Shousha, Brian Cramer and Doug Folsetter all positioned near the pin and with 10 seconds left the three powered up and drove to the line.  Within 2 minutes a small left shift signaled the first tack and Cramer gained a small but significant advantage.  Twice he protected the left side first covering Folsetter then Hendershot.  Those two began their own duel as the result of race four was significant in the overall positions.  In the 10 knots of steady breeze the passing lanes were tough and the positions held until the end. There was a dramatic moment on the finish line between Draper and Hofer with a jibe, jibe and twirl maneuver perfectly executed by Draper for the enjoyment of the watchers and with Hofer winning the duel.  At this point overall positions first and second were settled so Cramer and Folsetter left for the dock.

Race 5 repeated the pattern of left side for the first leg and cover the fleet on the downwind.  Two groups separated and Will Hendershot scored his first race win with Philippe Hofer close behind. 

A short award ceremony wound up the regatta.  Special thanks to the Quebec Star Fleet for providing great races on a great summer weekend.

Sail # Skipper Crew Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Race 4 Race 5 Total
8143 Brian Cramer Rick Burgess 1 1 1 1 DNS 4
8024 Doug Folsetter Chris Danner 2 2 2 2 DNS 8
8361 Will Hendershot Gary Soules 3 5 3 3 1 10
8236 Philippe Hofer Olivier Teisserenc 5 3 5 4 2 14
8401 John Draper Larry Scott 6 4 4 5 3 16
7506 André Marcotte Xavier Marcotte 7 6 6 6 4 22
4 Rick Shousha Stéphane Barbeau 4 7 7 7 5 23

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