Kagawong boater does well at annual North Channel race

From left, Calee skipper John Broad and Mike Coomes are presented with the North Channel Race first place flag by Jerry Neave in Gore Bay.

GORE BAY—A change in the vessel he eventually raced on at the North Channel Race Week did not faze Mike Coomes of Kagawong. In fact, the boat he helped craft won the last two stages of this year’s race, and the team he was on finished in third place overall in their division.

“It is a case of local boy does good,” said Mike Coomes after the yacht Calee, skipped by John Broad, won the fourth of fifth legs of the five-day race from Spragge to Gore Bay last Thursday. The team then went on to win the final stage, from Gore Bay to Little Current, on Friday.

“It was a magical race,” said Mr. Coomes of the trip from Gore Bay to Little Current. “All the teams were in Little Current by 2:30 pm.”

Mr. Coomes had originally been slated to join the team of the yacht Riga on the race, but the watercraft had trouble and couldn’t get to port.  So he joined Mr. Broad on Calee a 28-foot craft. “John is from Lions Head had arrived in Spragge but had no crew. So I substituted.”

The last two days of the race “were two of the best days of sailing I’ve ever seen,” said Mr. Coomes. 

The NCRWS is a five-day, five-race sailing event that winds its way through the North Channel of Northern Ontario. The race begins in Hilton Beach from St. Joseph Island on the Monday (July 23) going to Thessalon. The following day teams end up in Blind River and day three was from Blind River to Spragge. Then the fleet crosses south across the North Channel to finish in Gore Bay on day four and the final day five, runs from Gore Bay, over top of Clapperton Island, to finish in downtown Little Current.

The race has two divisions: Spinnaker and Jib and Main sail fleets. The Spinnaker fleet involves those boats that choose to utilize a spinnaker, a large parachute style sail, in their efforts. The Jib and Main sail fleet are those that choose not to use a spinnaker and use only a standard head sail and main sail.

The race from Spragge to Gore Bay took place on Thursday of last week.   

In the race Thursday evening from Spragge to Gore Bay, taking first in 164 minutes in the spinnaker class was Harmony captained by John Broom, with Sky Ship skippered by Gordon Simpson second and Shadow (Charlie Anderson) third. In the jam fleet division Calee with skipper John Broad took top spot completing the race in 179 minutes with the Jerry Neave skippered Eco second and Polaris skippered by Dan Stinebrins third.

The overall winner of the five-day race was Harmony II, which was first overall in the Spinnaker fleet, followed in second by Natural High and Skyship third, and overall in the Jam Fleet category, Echo took first place followed by Dyin Easy and Calee in third.