The 2019 Canadian Championships (by guest ringer Rainey Koby)

The annual Outer Harbour Centreboard Club hosted 505 and Contender Canadian Championships Regatta certainly lived up to expectations and then some! What expectations you ask?

First and most importantly - wind! Eight races were completed over just a day and half of sailing as decent September winds showed up as expected. Saturday delivered a light to medium westerly and mainly trapezing pressure. Yes, it was raining most the day but wind trumps fair weather any day. Sunday it got better: my guess was a 12-18 knot steady easterly with big Lake Ontario swells sliding through the course. It was good times for most. Seems there were a few sea sick stomachs, including Mike “bullet” Smits who is so good he can puke while racing and still kick our ass.

Secondly - value. OHCC has lots of great talent when it comes to managing a regatta. For just $40, sailors got an A-1 race committee lead by David Sprague (who has mastered his craft at Olympics level events), BBQ steak and chicken on Saturday, BBQ hamburgers and sausage on Sunday, accompanied by all the fixings - deserts, wine, craft beer, cheese, chips, etc. and a great team of volunteers to make it all happen. Yes, “us” racers were spoiled!

As racers we have to remember that without volunteers none of this fun happens. So we are all very grateful and thankful to all those who pitched in.  We also need to remember to take our turn to volunteer. Finally a special thanks to Stephanie Mah for organizing this event, yet again.

Ok so who did what on the water? Although there were only 3 505’s this year, they were very well matched with each taking at least one bullet on day one. It actually became a match race on Sunday when Marek Balinski, sailing with a rookie crew, arrived at the start line amidst 18+ knot puffs and head high swells, made what was a wise decision of playing it safe and sailing 5 K’s back to the club. It then became a cage match between Barry Watson & son and Robert Bartelewski and Robert Terbrugge.  While I was a little pre-occupied in my Contender to take in their battle, what I heard is that it was toe to toe around the course. That’s intense sailing given the conditions! Watson took 2 of 3 races on Sunday to go with his 4 bullets on Saturday to take first place honors.

The Contender fleet was pared down to 9 boats when Steph pulled out with a wonky knee [Steph: fully Raines’ fault]. Too bad as she is always a favourite for top women [Steph: Ha. Ha.]. Yup I’m in trouble for that one. Simply put, Mike Smits dominated with seven bullets and a fourth. For the most part Roger Martin (second) was on his ass but couldn’t find his way by. Mike is superfast downwind and as fast or faster upwind. That works. Have you guys weighed his boat? Kidding.  Peter Hale, Me, Peter White and Joel Magnan hung around each other plenty and that was the final order with Hale nailing the third by a point. Kris Holdenreid sadly was out with a bad knee and missed the breeze he craves on Sunday, while Bernie Bieber and Tim Willet decided to preserve boat and body and sailed back to club.

Of course there were capsizes and breakdowns. I qualified for both categories, although my only capsize was in the light air race on Saturday when the extension tiller misbehaved and trapped me to the new leeward while tacking. I sat there slowly watching the boat come over on top of me. Nothing like re-visiting my learn-to-sail days. My breakdown was blowing the pin securing my starboard shroud to the deck on Sunday. Yes, my heart skipped a beat. Fortunately the little jack shroud held the mast up and intact. Actually that would be Frank Whittington’s carbon mast. Luckily Kevin Smith and Ross King towed me safely back to the club.

As is typical, spirits were high back at the club for both racers and volunteers, as everyone enjoys the buzz that comes from being on a great lake when it becomes like an ocean and the  concentration level required to manage boat and body is relentless.

You better show up next year!

Full results here

Stephanie Mah