Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labour of Love

Forget about the upcoming America’s Cup race in San Francisco, the Hudson Yacht Club Labour Day Regatta is where the real action is at. This is the preeminent event on the Montreal competitive sailing calendar and for a second year running Rushmore was there. The regatta is 3 full days and consists of a variety of racing formats. Last year’s race included some of the most exciting sailing aboard Rushmore and we came within a hair’s breadth of beating our nemesis. Needless to say we were looking forward to another shot at glory. Due to some “personal commitments” (another chapter in the Abi & Charles wedding - I mean some people need to get their priorities straight) our crew was one man short and included a replacement , our skipper’s lady friend, who, although we all assumed would be a liability and get special treatment ,ultimately turned out to be a valuable part of the team (and a great cook)!
The sail from our home yacht club to Hudson was pleasant and uneventful, including a lock transit (up only about 1foot!)

Day 1: The first race of the regatta is a “Long Distance” race between all boats. With over a hundred boats registered the start line is the most exciting chaos I have ever experienced on a boat. Big boats, little boats, all squeezing by one another, vying for that prime spot that will give them an edge. The first leg is downwind and our start was respectable. The rules state that you cannot be flying a spinnaker when crossing the start line so it’s really incredible to see all the colourful parachutes pop up at the same time as each boat crosses. Unfortunately after about an hour of downwind sailing the wind started to shift and die about ¾ of the way to the mark. The breeze lessened so much so in fact that the race committee decided to shorten the course and just make that mark the finish line. Nature would not be thwarted however and the entire fleet was becalmed, whole bunch of sleek racing sailboats just floating there like tubs, inching forward. Frustrating. While we could have retired and motored in to the docks (many did) we persevered and ultimately finished, getting at least a few points on the board. After Day 1 there is a festive BBQ at the Yacht Club and we ate well while schmoozing with other sailors (and gathering competitive intelligence).

Day 2: Becalmed – no racing

Day 3: Definitely the best conditions – a beautiful day with enough wind. Today’s series was “one-design” which means that all the boats are exactly the same (all J24’s) and there is no need for any handicap scoring system – if you cross first you win, second, second. At this point we had really gelled as a team and things were going well. The competition however was fierce, some very talented teams. We’d need to squeeze every possible knot out of the conditions and the boat. Communication was good, cooperation was tight, no major mistakes. Yet while we did have some respectable finishes, in the final standings we were edged off of the podium. This is the most frustrating aspect; at least if you lose because of some assignable cause you know what needs to be improved and can work on it. Here, there was no assignable cause. Oh and our nemesis took first place.

There are no photos from the actual races because we were busy... racing. But here are a few photos of the trip up, festivities and the awards ceremony.
A great time was had by all and Rushmore’s legacy continues to grow.
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