Canadian Olympic-training Regatta Kingston. So Ok, Its not Cork week in Ireland but this one is billed as the largest Fresh Water regatta in the world. It spans over a few weeks and has mostly small boat classes but there is a big boat "offshore" series as well. The whole thing takes place on Lake Ontario in Kingston, Ontario.
Thanks to our friendship from the #sailing chat room, I was invited by Larry to come up to the cold North country to sail on a C&C35 MKII called Hambone. Why resist? Florida is HOT in August and some US Air miles were available to be used, so why not!
The adventure began for me when the flight to Boston with a connection to Syracuse, landed in Norfolk for extra fuel. Seems we had been circling to wait for the weather to clear and were getting too low on fuel to go the rest of the way to Boston. Unfortunately the short pit stop in Norfolk became a 5-hour stranding! I was just at the point of either having to charter a flight (for $3500) to get there, or just get on the next plane back to Fort Lauderdale and give it up. Luckily I finally found just the right US Airways agent to find a way. There was one last flight into Philadelphia in 2 hours, and then I could catch the very last flight of the night from there to Syracuse and be there by about 11pm. Butch Milam of US Air, if you are reading this THANK YOU and I hope you get the transfer you want! The upgrade to first class was a nice touch as well!
I Arrived in Syracuse where Larry (aka BowRunner) was waiting to pick me up and we did the 2-hour drive to Kingston. A Short nap of about 4 hours and down to the boat for the first race at 8am.
Saturday, day 1:
I went down to meet the skipper and crew of Hambone, and we prepared the boat for the one distance race of the week. It was to be about 39 miles. A downwind start had us tacking on to starboard just before the start line. Unfortunately a J34 named Sneak Attack decided it wanted to be there as well. Only problem was that he was on port and he had room to keep clear but didn't. With a new hole in our starboard side the guys managed to pry the two boats apart and we did a quick look around and decided we could safely continue to race.
We held off hoisting the kite though it looked like a pretty tight reach and we were unsure if we would heel too much and start taking in water. So out came the duct tape to cover the hole. (Note: advantage to fresh water sailing... no need to wash the salt off for the tape to stick!) Once we felt sure that it was ok, we hoisted the kite and off we went. Still it was a very long day and the wind went very light and we ended up in 8th place of 9. The only boat behind us was the boat that holed us.
Dinner and drinks that night at places with funny names: Tir Nan Og, the Toucan, and Grizzly but good food, and Mt gay rum is always great rum! (be sure to support your sponsors!)
Sunday, day 2:
Can't say I
was too upset when the morning race was postponed before we even
left the dock
The R/C is very civilized up in Canada! Considerate enough to put up the AP flag at the dock so we don't have to go out there and drift around for 4 hours waiting for wind! Lucky me, my window overlooked the flag pole where the signal flags were hoisted, and I could actually see them from my bed! Guess who lazed around in the air conditioning waiting for the signal to let us know we were racing!
At 1300 we finally went out and managed to get 3 races in. We finished with a 4 -3 - 3 for the day. No real disasters but our starts left a great deal to be desired! Still the results were much better than the day before so we were encouraged.
Monday, day 3:
We won the protest for the 'incident' the first day and were relieved to have that one out of the way. There was video proof and the jury agreed we were in the right.
First race was moderate breeze (10 to 15k), I guess the rules are different in Canada? Can you really move the wx mark with no notice at the previous mark? Tight racing between Hambone, Restless (C&C MKIII) and Steadfast (Abbott 33). Great start! Art decided to call the start with no help from the crew and he did well. No major screw ups. No photo boats either! Never a camera in sight when you want one!
Second race. Crappy start... Way early... but it forces a port tack, ducking start which led us to the REALLY, REALLY favored side of the course. At the layline, we had not only caught the rest of our fleet... but the fleet ahead of us as well! The wind came up, became a local squall... and shifted 150 degrees at just the right moment... No chute, but a great beam reach to the shortened finish and a win, amid the fleet that started 5 minutes before us!
I Bet none of you who know me would ever believe I would voluntarily dive into water under 80 º but it was hot and I figured I had to force myself! How could I go to a new body of water to sail in and not swim in it at least once! Hey . There's no salt in here! Too bad that photo didn't come out... I know most of you don't believe me!
Dinner at Stoney's and rum at Tir Nan Og till last call again! Two first place finishes in one day required some celebrating!
Tuesday, day 4:
Only one race and wish we hadn't had to sail that one. Very light drifter of a race. Hurt us a lot...Hambone likes wind! Finished in a very painful 6th place. Lots of hanging around drifting and swimming and napping.
It would have hurt less if the wind had come back so we could have gotten one or two more races in, but after trying various times to get another started, the RC finally called it a day and hoisted the AP over A flags (no more races today) and sent us home at about 2pm. The breeze filled in after that of course. Some things are the same at every regatta no matter what country I guess!
Drinks, parties, dinner at Chez Piggy. Yum!
After a brief postponement waiting for the thermal to fill, racing finally began in "typical Kingston conditions", 10 to 14 kts.
The first of three races was relatively uneventful. Crew work was finally getting predictable. Off the wind, we tried to get some help in covering our time from "Obsession", a Kirby 30 owned and driven by an international race judge. It didn't work... he wouldn't let us get high enough to do any good, so we barely missed covering our time on "Restless" Not stellar, but not horrific either. Finished in 4th place.
Second race we were forced into a port start, which was ok, as it allowed us to go closer to shore to gain the thermal benefits that were there. At the top mark... ohhhhhhh noooooo... a photo boat! By now we had decided that we surely had stage fright. Never looked good when the video was filming! Carefully, the chute went up without incident... That wouldn't hold true for the race though. At the leeward gate, among a cluster of Laser 28's, Hambone went for a last minute change of plan and went for the port mark, away from the traffic. Sounds good, right? NOT! As the helm went over, the jib sheet was still not attached. Grabbing the clew, Larry held on until Stef was able to get forward to tie a bowline. Costly error! Another 4th place finish.
Third race was just more of a slippery downhill slide. The start was another of those "dirty air, slam it to port" situations. Still trying to cover Restless, Hambone got out of sync and wound up at the leeward gate, jib half up, and the chute down. NOT good! After some scrambling, we are again off to the weather mark. Painful 6th place finish. (its faster to make the wrong choice than to make no choice and have no headsail up at the mark!)
Bottom line, we didn't break anything or hurt anyone. But, we should have prayed harder to the "wind gods" not to make an appearance! Day three took us from 3 to 4...just out of the money.
Larry and Stef were the only crew left from Hambone to go to the awards party so we had to somehow manage to celebrate our week for the whole team!
Nothing like a sponsored Mount Gay Rum party to help in that category so we made sure to hold up our end!