Wednesday, June 15, 2016

3 person boats in the Montreal area

I have written about 3 person boats in my series about sailing without owning a boat. It's because 3 person boats are in my opinion the best boats in the Montreal area to learn sailing on. My most exciting sailing in Montreal area these past few years was done on 3 person boats. Many of these boats are very close in speed to one another making sailing more exciting. The boats below are very durable.

Lightning at the 2010 Canadian championships in Beaconsfield photo by Luka
The 3 person boats that are popular in Montreal (from the lightest to the heaviest) are the Lightning, the J22, the Shark, the Tanzer 22 and the Etchells.  I'll add the J70 and the Viper as they are both popular elsewhere and we have at least one of each sailing actively in the Montreal area.

The Lightning is the only boat in this list that can capsize (and stay capsized until the crew takes action to right it).  It is considered a stable boat and will not capsize in light or medium air.  It takes a windy day and usually a spinnaker maneuver that goes bad. It is a boat that takes very little wind to start moving and that will reward fine adjustments. The boat is filled with cleats as all the adjustments can be made from either side.  The mast has many adjustments to coax the final touch of speed. When the wind is light the boat glides nicely.  It is a very comfortable boat for the crew, although some agility is recommended to fit through the narrow space between the centerboard trunk and the boom vang when taking.  The Lightnings are mostly in the Royal Saint-Lawrence Yacht Club in Dorval. Competitive boats start at 4000 $ and new boats are 25000 $.  A boat made 30 years ago might be still competitive though it is not preferred by the top performing crews.

There are very few J22's actively racing on lake St-Louis, most of them are in Hudson.

The Shark is arguably the most popular boat in Eastern Canada.  As far as I know, it's the only boat where 150 adults compete in the same event in the same class in Québec or Ontario. On a typical Tuesday or Thurday night race in Montreal, 15 or more boats can be seen competing on the same starting line. There are often crews missing 1 person...

Shark in Pointe-Claire Photo by Luka

You wouldn't know it from the following picture, but the Shark is a very stable boat.  When the wind is very strong, there is no boat I'd rather be on.  The ride is going to be wet, but the boat remains (relatively) easy to control when other classes of boats decide to stay on shore. A Shark with a small jib is a tame beast in strong wind.

The best photos in this post are from Luka

The Lightning and the Viper weigh about the same, 700 et 750 lbs respectively, but the two designs are separated by 70 years. The Viper has a bulb that will prevent it from capsizing for too long. The Lightning has a very active circuit, with competitive sailors in the area, and it's still one of the most popular classes in North America. The class has races in the south of the US in winter that are well attended. With its stainless steel centerboard and Shallow rudder, this boat is rarely damagged by hitting the bottom, something that happens in the area. Both these boats are easy to tow, a 4 cylinder compact will be OK.

Le Viper est un bateau léger pour 3
There is only one Viper in the Montreal  area. The Molimar brothers do three loops while the local Sharks do two at the Club de Voile Deux Montagnes. The Viper is a good boat for the conditions in this area, but it can be difficult to sail in a very strong wind.

The Shark, weighing 2300 lbs with a fixed keel needs a sturdier towing vehicle,

The Tanzer 22 is the most common pleasure sailboat on lake Saint-Louis.

It can be used for cruising. It's cabin has a head (marine term for toilet) and a proper galley stove. The Tanzer sails fast in lighter wind, it's large genoa is harder to pull than any other sail in this group.  Tanzer sailors use their trailers to cruise to faraway places, rarely to race.

The Tanzer will go as fast as the Shark in average. When the wind is light, it's large masthead spinnaker will propel it faster. In heavy air, the small sail area of the Shark allow it go better upwind.

The last of the group is the Etchells 22. It is a classic day sailing keel boat. It requires more depth. At 3325 lbs, it's the heaviest of this group. Most of them are in Pointe-Claire.

Etchells 22 by Luka

Whatever the boat you choose, go sailing!