LCYC season comes to an end

LITTLE CURRENT––All good things come to an end and so it is that the 2011 Little Current Yacht Club’s racing season is over. The weekend of September 10th was the last of LCYC’s regatta-style racing and perhaps its strongest. The two-race weekend, that featured the Bousquet Challenge and the Anchor Inn/Labatt Fall Classic, brought boats from Georgian Bay and the North Channel. It is hard to resist a weekend of sailing in this beautiful venue, especially with the awards party that follows each race.

Saturday found sunny skies with moderate winds at the start, which persisted throughout half the race. Later, the winds died to almost nothing. These conditions make for a very tactical kind of race as the sailors are always looking for that fresh breeze, which never seems to be coming from the direction that they expect. The course went out to the buoy at James Foote Patch, back to the bottom of East Rouse, before heading up the Wabuno Channel, where Halfway Island is rounded, and then back to U2 where a shortened course was set up. The White Sail and Spinnaker classes left the start line at 10 and 10:05 am, respectively, to start their journey for the day. The easterly breeze caused the spinnakers to blossom and made for a colourful start in about 10 to 12 kilometer winds.

The boats came back and turned up the Wabuno Channel and here is where the difficulties really began. The winds got very light and shifty. You could see boats, metres from each other, pointed in different directions. It also seemed that some boats where doing four or five knots, while others were dead in the water. Then, it got ugly as the wind almost completely died. The first boat to finish was at 1:34 pm, the next at 2:05 pm and from there it deteriorated. There were 45-minute gaps between finishes on several different occasions. To make it even stranger there was a puff of wind later on that brought three boats across the finish line within 33 seconds of each other. The last boat finished at 4:56 pm just four minutes before the race’s 5 pm deadline.

If nothing else, sailors are adaptable and smiles were the order of the day as they gathered at the Little Current’s west pavilion for the after-race party. Of course, the barbs rang out as competitors berated their competition’s abilities and relived the race on land.

The real highlight of the day took place as Jim Bousquet and his family hosted a spare rib and chicken dinner for the 70 hungry guests and sailors. Of course, tradition is a big part of sailing and one of the favorites of this event is when Jim, his son Chris and grandson David served dessert adding the “family touch” to this family-orientated yacht club party.

The award winners for Saturday’s race in the White Sail Class were: first, Sea Biscuit; second, Riga; and third, Scaramouche. The Spinnaker Class finishes were: first, Aquila; second, Jessie; and third, Blue Jacket. Sea Biscuit hails from the North Channel Yacht Club and although Aquila’s home port is Lion’s Head, they and the rest of the crew are members of the LCYC.

Sunday dawned with clear skies and, of course, no air. The weatherman had given a forecast of winds from the south and southwest from 15 kilometers an hour, increasing to 20. This gave the fleet hope as they headed for the start line. The Anchor Inn/Labatt Fall Classic is a pursuit race, which means that the handicaps are figured at the start and all the boats have a different starting time. Theoretically, they should all finish at the same time.

The first start at 10 am was done in no wind and the boats were just drifting like logs. As each boat’s starting time came and went, there was hardly any action. About 10:20 am, the first starting boat seemed to pick up a little wind all of a sudden and began to move. Then the race was on! The wind seemed to listen to the weatherman and increased to 15-18 kilometers an hour. The last boat started at 10:45 am in a great breeze. The first leg had the wind coming against the boats so they sailed in a zig zag fashion towards the first turning point at the familiar James Foote Patch Buoy. The course for the day is a circumnavigation of Bedford Island, with the last leg coming down to the bottom of the Wabuno Channel, where a left hand turn is made and the boats sail into Little Current to the finish between Boyle’s Marina and a channel marker. With this wind, it seemed like it would be a great day on the water and a full race would take place.

The Race Committee (RC) retired to the Anchor and was preparing to take their station at Boyle’s for the finish. About 12:30 pm, the RC called the Local Race Chairman, who was sailing on Blue Jacket, to find out their position only to find out that they had sailed into dead air and were hardly moving. Thinking that the air would come back, the RC gave it another hour and this time when they called, they heard that the boat’s instruments “had more zeroes than Pearl Harbour.” The RC then jumped on their boat and headed out to shorten the course for the second time in two days.

The RC boat motored all the way to the northwest corner of Bedford Island before they ran across the first boat. Just when they were starting to look for a place to anchor and finish the race, Roy Eaton, aboard Jessie, suggested that they just finish the boats in whatever position the racers were in and end the drifting. All the boats agreed to that in record time, which in itself was something as sailors hardly agree on anything. The RC boat recorded the positions and the sailors were on their way home at about 3:15 pm.

The venue for Sunday’s party was, of course, the Anchor Inn, and by 6 pm it was packed with hungry sailors who awaited another of Kelly O’Hare’s great dinners. Again 70 or so sailors, whose numbers included real sailors from the Royal Canadian Navy, who were also in port, enjoyed the meal and a great bread pudding desert.

The results from Sunday’s contest/drift are as follows: White Sail class, first, Sea Biscuit; second, Riga; and third, Scaramouche. The Spinnaker class finishes were: first, Aquila; second, Blue Jacket; and third, DevOcean. Aquila managed to take home the honour of overall winner for both races with skippers John Gamble and Tim Matheson and crew Scott Matheson and Adam Matheson.

In addition to the races that just took place, the Club has a Boat of the Year trophy which awards the crew of the best boat performing in three out of four of the yacht club races. In addition to these fall races, LCYC sponsors the Cooper Cup and Eaton Cup in June. This year, for a second year in a row, the trophy went to Blue Jacket skippered by Peter Zieleniewski, with his crew Brent Masson, Bill MacIvor, Bob McCallum and Elliot Schore.

Although the season had just finished, challenges and plans are already in the works for the 2012 season. Care to join the fun! Just go to the www.lcyc.ca and look for the local racing tab and register for 2012. Until then, happy curling!