Sunday, November 1, 2009

International Canadian Friendship Regatta



For the second year in a row now, we've held our annual International Canadian Friendship Regatta at Potapskut Sailing Association (PSA) on the north side of the Magothy River. I think I speak for most folks that participated when I say that this is a great venue. No fancy frills, just great people, great boats and great racing.

We've held this event for over forty years now. In the spring a group of Americans head up to Canada to race on Lake Ontario and in the fall a group of Canadians come down to Annapolis to race on the Bay. The regatta is held in a team racing format and the winning team takes home the Bruce Rankin Memmorial Trophy, which was donated to the class by Bob Chambers in memory of his good friend, and my grandfather, Bruce Rankin.

Having done this regatta on LinGin for decades now, I think we've seen a bit of everything. There have been races that we canceled due to no wind, and due to too much wind. There have been 2 kt currents to deal with and days of pouring rain. Mostly, however, we've had good weather and we've always had lots of fun. This year was no exception.

We set records for the lowest high temperatures on record during the regatta. It was in the upper 40s and raining with the wind out of the north. It rained heavily on Saturday and lightly on Sunday.

Saturday had a strong breeze with most boats reefing their mains and quite a few No. 2 jibs up. The beauty of racing on the Magothy in a north wind is that the seas remain quite flat even with a heavy breeze. Fast and fun. To give you an idea, you can check out a video Brian Palmer did from aboard L'Esprit:


The race committee decided against spinnakers on both days--not a surprise with the winds being so gusty and the weather so chilly. Two races were held on Saturday and one on Sunday, all windward-leeward.

Aboard LinGin, we lost our teammate on Friday due to weather related boat delivery issues, so we were paired up with Bill Jensen's Prudence at the last minute. And while we wanted to win this regatta, there was a subplot going on too: we were .003 points apart from Argo in the High Point standings and this was the last regatta of the season.

During each race, our plan, based on very similar conditions last year, was to have a clean start on the boat end and head right toward Gibson Island. We like the right because we found that with the wind out of the north, it bends around the island. If you head over there on port and then tack, you tend to get a nice lift heading up for the mark. This proved to be effective on all three races of the weekend.

For races one and two on Saturday, we had solid starts and quickly made for the right. Our setup, a full No. 1 and a reefed main, turned out to be just right for the conditions. It was strong enough that we considered the No. 2, but as the downwind leg was to be done without spinnaker, we opted for the No. 1 to keep our speed up downwind.

The marks used for racing on the Magothy are small. I mean really small, like not much bigger than a gallon milk jug. Add in ~20 kts of breeze and a generous helping of rain and I can attest that there were a few times when we were really searching for those marks! Thankfully we weren't too far off each time had to find them.

Unfortunately, Argo had a mechanical issue with their gooseneck which slowed them down a bit. Maddeningly, the same thing happened last year, although it was their main sheave that caused the trouble.

Due to the conditions, Prudence, dropped out after the first race and headed in for some warmth. With the forecast similar for Sunday, they decided to sit Sunday out as well. That took us out of contention for the trophy, so we decided to focus on High Point.

Sunday we found myself shorthanded on LinGin. Glen Becker and I doublehanded her for the day which was exhausting! Four tacks up the windward leg and I was completely beat. Thankfully Glen did most of the hard work from that point on.

We followed the same plan on Sunday and although our start wasn't quite what we had hoped, and our tacks were very slow, we did manage to have a hard fought race for fourth place with Windswept and Solstice. At the start of the last windward leg we were in 6th. We took a flyer to the right, trying our old "catch the lift on the island" trick and lo and behold it worked. By mere seconds we beat out the other two and took a hard fought and very satisfying 4th. We loved every minute of it.

Argo took first in that last race and although the official Hight Point standings aren't out yet, I think we came out on top. We'll find out at the annual dinner for sure, but either way it was very close and included a lot of fun-poking throughout the whole season.

That's the view from the race course as I see it. Maybe some of the other guys can add some colorful comments to the post.

--Tim



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