2017 Canadian Championships - View From the Front
By Peter Hale
When Stephanie “ordered” me to write 2017 Contender North American wrap up, she said “you won it, you write it”. Mike Smits said “with great accolades comes great responsibility, you write it”. When I asked what I should write I was told (ordered) to write what I did to win. Or as the immortal Pete White said, “with all those f!@#K ups, how’d you win?” So here goes. On the Thursday before the regatta I sacrificed a goat to the winds gods. Ok, I only ate a goat roti, which only goes to prove if you don’t like goats you’ll never win.
The 2017 edition of the Contender North Americans was a light air one, a lesson in gratification postponement. Normally we join forces with the 505 Canadians but this year we had a conflict with their Worlds in Annapolis. So we decided to mix it up and joined forces with one of our neighbouring clubs, The St Jamestown Sailing Club. We did an around Toronto Island race on day 1 with them, and buoy racing on our own on the second day. Both days were light air affairs. Kudos to the gentlemen who traveled to sail with us: Larry Christian (long distance award), Bernie Bieber and Pete White. For those that couldn’t make it, you were missed and you missed a fun time.
Day 1: The Around the Island race brought us light air, we had a short 500m upwind leg in the Outer Harbour and a long downwind to the Centennial Pier for the first race. Sailing back and forth across the Outer Harbour before the start led me to believe there was more wind offshore and when we got to the Island we’d be in the lee of it. The usual suspects, Mike and Roger rounded the upwind mark 1, 2, myself 2ndfrom last. I managed to resist sailing a bit hotter angle to catch up and stayed further offshore and down the center of the Outer Harbour than the fleet. The only other person who stayed further offshore than myself was a cagey guest skipper on a borrowed boat, Paul Clifford, as a result Paul crossed first, second for me.
For the second race, again we had a short upwind to the first mark, then downwind round the end of the Island into the Inner Harbour through the Western Gap, dodging ferries and dead spots along the way. I had a bad start and went inshore for the upwind, and rounded the first mark in last place. I couldn’t imagine you could lose so much distance in 700m, by the time I rounded everybody else was in a different postal code. Anyway, I had lots of time to think about that roti, between get tangled up in the mainsheet, dumping twice and having to turn back because of a pissed off ferry captain. The only advantage I can think of about dumping in light air is nobody moves that much further away, it is humbling though. Results: Roger 1st, cagey Paul Clifford 2nd and Mike Smits 3rd
The last race was from the Inner Harbour to mark 0 in front of the Club. Again, a short upwind then onto the Eastern Gap. I stayed out in the middle of the harbour while the rest of the fleet played the Bay St/ Yonge St shifts closer to the City. The end result was we all ended up squeezing through the Eastern Gap with about thirty sailing motorhomes from RCYC - all at the same time. The only thing missing was a pissed off ferry captain , but I did manage to find a green marker buoy in the midst of this melee luckily it was not counted as course marker. Once out of the eastern gap is was a downwind/reach to the finish. I stayed in the middle of the Outer Harbour again thinking there’d be more wind as Roger snuck along the shore. The rest chose the middle route. Results, myself 1st, Roger 2nd, Mike 3rd.. After that we decided it was enough punishment for the day and we settled at the Club for a great homemade meal made by Virginia, Roger’s better half.
The second day was buoy racing in the Outer Harbour, again with light air but it was reasonably consistent. After sailing back and forth across the harbour before the race I thought there might be more wind but a knock on the left. Most of the day I did manage to get decent starts at the pin and stayed left of the fleet. This held true for most of the day, except for one race where the right paid off. Raines Koby, our race officer on the second day, came back with the following observations on what he saw on the course: Roger and I both heel our boat more than the rest in light air; I do the marginal trapezing further forward in the boat that the rest of the fleet. I do that because the Karsten Kraus Contender boat has more of a chine than either the Schappi and Bonezzi hulls, I feel it reduces wetted area. I had my board vertical all day to get helm and played the boom vang almost every time I played the mainsheet, tightening it up a bit when a puff hit when the boat got up to speed.
Last but not least, thanks, goes to Stephanie Mah and the volunteers for organizing the fun and making it happen. Beyond that and the goat roti I have no more hints.