What An Amazing Race!

July 22, 2010 posted by admin

Thursday July 22, 2010

The Lake Ontario 300 is officially over and what a race it was. Definitely one for the record books. Not only did we have a record number of participants, but we had some record winds! OGOC and I had an amazing time. Here’s a little recap of the race.

The single handed division had 17 boats in it this year. Within that there were 2 single handed minis “OGOC” and Nathan Baron’s “Boy’s and Girl’s Club”, and then a third mini in the double handed division Philippe Laville’s “Pogo Loco”. As the minis are really hard to compare in PHRF to other boats, the three minis had already decided to have their own little trophy race amongst themselves. The “Wichard Cup” is our trophy with the first, second and third prize graciously donated by Wichard! Now we’ve got a 300 mile match race between Boy’s and Girl’s Club and OGOC. It was a great pairing up. Nathan and I have the same boats, but Nathan has years more experience with the spinnakers, and OGOC has more sail area… the game is afoot!

The gun goes and we’re off! Spinnakers (kites) are up and we’re pushing the gas pedal! As we neared the Gibraltar mark, the first predicted squall builds in behind us. Right… time to get the jib up and take down the kite. Whoops, timed that one a little too late. The jib was up but I was in the middle of the take down when the squall hit. It was a little ugly, but we handled it. “We” of course refers to me and OGOC! Fortunately nothing ripped or broke, and OGOC and I were able to get back on our feet quick enough and get around the mark before Boy’s and Girl’s Club. Phew… one mark rounding down and three more to go. The fleet then moves south of Toronto island and turns east toward ABYC. We were heading for Main Duck Island as our next mark rounding. A little past ABYC, OGOC and Boy’s and Girl’s Club get their kites up again. The breeze is anywhere from 15 to 20 knots. Things are looking good as the next squall builds in. Hmmmm interesting. What was it Ron Bianci said in the weather briefing? “When you see towering clouds build over the water, with the conditions that are presenting, you can anticipate incredible wind strength out of the squalls when they hit… 40+ knots”. Or words to that effect. Well let me tell you, this squall was building over the water at an incredible rate, and the breeze was building along with it. This wasn’t a problem… Boy’s and Girl’s Club was behind me… I’ll take my kite down when he gets hit and that should give me plenty of time to keep my advantage! In hindsight that was a lot of testosterone talking so to speak! When Nathan got hit I was again in mid take down. The jib was up and I was reaching for the spin sheet to take it down. We laid down on our side with ferocious strength. I blew off every sheet I could find and the pole guys. The wind strength was so strong that the gunnels and side decks were in the water and water was streaming into the cockpit. Gotta love those giant cockpit drains! The rig shook, the sails flogged ferociously, the kite sunk in the water and the boat wasn’t coming up. I’m standing on the side of the cockpit (rather than the cockpit floor), holding onto the winch ‘above’ me and thinking “why isn’t she coming up yet… she should be coming up… what’s holding us down?” Turns out the weather jib sheet re-clutched itself and we were actually “hove to” while being knocked down! Flick and the clutch is open. Wamp and the boat stands up like a top! I love minis! Tough little boats! Now, the kite has had enough time to not only sea anchor itself, but wrap itself around the keel and both rudders! Right… on to the next task of freeing that up. In the meantime, Nathan has truly shown his skills. He also got knocked down, but was able to recover and turn east and put the pedal down. He zoomed past me at an incredible speed and was gone over the horizon before I finished clearing up the kite. That’s ok… the race has just started!

After that we had a great ride to Main Duck and then south to Ford Shoal. Now the big question is… do you hug the shoreline, or do you head out to clear Rochester and head on to Niagara’s R2. The breeze felt light in shore and the forecast was for the breeze to go north. I went out and caught a great lift coming back into land further down the lake. There was lots of tacking back and forth as the breeze was on the nose. Nathan opted to stay inshore. Here’s where I passed Nathan. After that came Niagara’s R2. Which was predicted to go light in the breeze. Light! There was nothing! Not even a whisper of wind! Well that’s fine, I need a little break. There’s been very little sleep and the brain could use a break! Interesting thing about Niagara… it’s the gateway for the freighters to the Welland Canal. Oh goody… here comes one now! How do you dodge a freighter when you’re doing 0.3 knots? After sighting the freighter for about five minutes, it’s clear that I am in their way. Can’t go up well as an evasive maneuver, and don’t have time to get engine out… so what to do? Turn down wind and head back to the fleet. As the freighter passed ahead of one of my competitors, it looked like it crossed right through my path! The sun started to set and the boats from behind joined us. Is that a fathead main? Ugh… Nathan has caught up! There is always a chance of a great night breeze on Lake Ontario, and if I’m going to maximize any opportunities, I need to stay awake and hand steer through the night to try to keep Boy’s and Girl’s Club behind us. You know what they say… “sleep when you’re dead”! We squeaked through the night and got to the finish line just as the sun was coming up and the last trickle of breeze was dying!

What an amazing match race! Boy’s and Girl’s Club really gave us a run for our money! It was a thrill to race against another mini and really be tested to the max! Now for a trip to the UK Halsey loft for some much needed repairs to the Jib and a big thank you to Lori Mason from The Store and to Carolyn Burgess from The Rigging Shoppe both for their last minute equipment updates and replacement rigging for OGOC. Without these we wouldn’t have been able to race!

Next we’re up for the 100 mile race in the LOSHRS series!

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