Winter Series 2012

Winter weather on the West Coast doesn’t stop us from trying to get out on the water and do what we love to do, sail.  Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.  And although winter winds have a reputation for being a bit stronger we’re often pleasantly surprised with a bit of sunshine to keep us warm before heading in for a bowl of hot chili. 



Race Officer




Race Day 1

January 18

Bill Allan




Race Day 2

January 29

Ludek Sotola




Race Day 3

February 5

Keith Climenhaga




Race Day 4

February 19

Paul Nixon




Race Day 5

March 5

Ken Holland




Race Results

Race Day 1 - January 18

It was a Dark and Stormy Night - the night before the race that is.  Big Wave Dave's Website was trembling with a dire forecast and there were white caps on my toilet bowl. 

Strong winds were forecast for Saturday night and Sunday morning easing to SE 25(!) Sunday afternoon.  As is so often the case in our nape of the woods the weather systems are fluid and getting the timing right is tricky.  Judging from the all the down branches in my yard I know it was definitely windy on Saturday night!

But by Sunday morning things were looking markedly better, even pleasant, in a not survival sailing kind of way than the prediction.

And there was a good turnout both among the racing contingent and on board the committee boat where the LawnDart crew soldiered against adversity for the benefit of the sailors.  And I might mention that as far as RC Boats Howitzer's Nordhavn has to be commended as an entirely satisfactory platform.  It wasn't all without suffering.  Quite occasionally we needed to open up the hatches because the onboard furnace was overshooting the mark!

At the start the wind was in a light phase at about 8 knots.  Intimidated by the forecast (and maybe the Greybeards rolling across the horizon out by Entrance Island) many of the fleet showed up at the line with small jibs and/or reefed sails.

To encourage some diversity in starting practices the resolute RC Crew made a conscious decision to favour the Pin End of the start line.  Another part of the idea was to get the fleet away from Howitzer's Gel Coat!  Funny how obvious the preferred start path appears from 20 feet above the water (I had a nose bleed!) on the upper level of the Nordhavn.

Kaydee B had what looked to the the RC like a perfect, 5 minute, timed run on port, from the docks on Newcastle all set up for a Pin End start.  The rest of the fleet were careening down, and barely making, the line on starboard.  At the last second, succumbing to frenetic starboard hails from George Compton, the Kaydee B lost his resolve and bailed out.

Everyone in the fleet was slightly underpowered leaving the harbour but pretty much that would be the last time for the rest of the day.

There was a single race scheduled for the day.  It was a longish one from the harbour start to P15, then out the Entrance Island, back around Snake Bell Buoy with a finish off the NYC docks.

Not long after Gallows the wind came aft enough for the brave to attempt spinnakers.  BMR, and Sea lion made an impressive sight at times just hanging on the hairy edge,  Ramone and the Ramoniacs on ION handled the conditions like the powerful ocean racer she is.  Zoom Zoom was "242 heavy" and had no trouble carrying the spinnaker.  Until the wind gets into the 25 knots range Thunderbirds are always screaming for more canvas and Jay on Shazamm (Shaheen), sailing with all his friends, had his hands full with just white sails - although it should be noted that was a big white genoa.

The day turned out to be tough on spinnakers beginning around P15 mark.  By now the wind had increased to 12 or so knots.  Cynthia Lott on Sea Lion obviously was not treating their 3/4 ounce sail with the respect its advancing age demands (your correspondent helped pick the colours for that spinnaker when crewing with Sea Lion's original owner - 35 years ago!) and it let go about the middle from leech to leech.  I have been advised they recovered the tapes.  Conveniently for nautical nemesis award purposes the RC have a series of photographs of this mishap in process.

Around here BMR tried the controversial technique of flying the spinnaker, sort of free form, from the mast head with no sheets attached.  It did not look all that fast but we were some distance away at the time.  The highlights we noted at the beginning of the long beat to Entrance were as follows distance away.

As the wind built to about 20 knots by Snake Island the Romoniacs continued to look flat and fast out in front making the small jib a smart choice.  Ludek and Co. on Blue Marble Rider, reminding us we have all had days like that, performed a change down that did not go exactly to plan but eventually they got a smaller sail up and began moving well.

Sea lion shrugging off the loss of old faithful was well out boat for boat on the upwind dogging Ion.  But they were massively overpowered and heeled with the mainsail looking more like a flag than the racing shape Ken recently paid for.  It was later reported that they changed that down for much improved performance.

Meantime Zoom Zoom and Valhalla tacked towards Gabriola for relief from the punishing seaway further out to good advantage.  It was at this point that the RC headed back to the dock.

Later Clubhouse reports suggest that there was some compression between the Gabriola shore sneakers and the power and the majesty offshore group fleet.  Ken Holland on Zoom Zoom reports that the wind materialized allowing them to fully exploit their "righting force advantage" for the upwind and that the subsequent down wind was fast and enjoyable for all onboard.

Meantime Ion extended, based on waterline length, and for a long period was the only boat in sight in the harbour near the finish.

There was a conspicuous absence of spinnakers on the moderate final run down the harbour.  While the full report has not been received I have heard that Valhalla took apart two spinnakers somewhere on the course.  George says that some sailors call there sails the number one, two and so on; he refers to them in terms of age seniority.

It only began to rain after nearly all the fleet were safe in the NYC Bar.  Only Jay on Shaheen, who volunteered to do the sweep to get the stragglers off the course, might have felt a drop or two.

There was a good turnout for post race festivities too.  Thanks Tom and Sue for manning (and I guess womanning) the bar late Sunday.  Your correspondent, wanting to miss nothing, stayed right until the end at about 1830.

Cap’n Billy


Results for Race Day 1

Race Day 1 Photos

Winter Series 2012: Race Day 1

Winter Series 2012: Race Day 1

Winter Series 2012: Race Day 1

Winter Series 2012: Race Day 1

Winter Series 2012: Race Day 1

Winter Series 2012: Race Day 1

Winter Series 2012: Race Day 1


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Race Day 2 - January 29

The initial plans to start the race on the outside of Protection/Newcastle was quickly changed on the water when the RC realized they didn’t have enough chain to anchor any marks there.  The new course was communicated to the fleet before they left the harbour and the race started on time at 10:30.  A port tack start on the pin end was highly favored but the short line length had most boats opting for the safer option of starboard tack.  Cu na Mara and ooviloo battled it out for a line honors at the pin end only to have Zoom Zoom cross in front of both of them with Kaydee B and Sea Lion following close behind spoiling the port tack crossing idea.  Fortunately no harm, no foul and the fleet headed out past Gallows to turn downwind and set their spinnakers for the run down towards P15.  A freighter coming into anchor added some early excitement into the mix as it seemed to push a mass of disturbed air into the lead boats.  Cu na Mara’s early lead was soon taken away by Zoom Zoom which stayed out in better breeze to round P15 first.  The “beat” back to Snake Bell buoy against the forecast 10-15 kt SE wind somehow turned into a reach with the added fun of a strong current setting the boats northwards.  Although Zoom Zoom was again the first to round the next mark they seemed at first to be going the wrong way as a wind shift had them heading back towards Departure Bay, even though the next leg was to finish in the harbour.  Zoom Zoom tacked twice to make sure this was indeed the best course of action and settled on sailing close hauled back towards Newcastle Island, slowly getting lifted as they proceeded.  Cu na Mara following the same path at times looked like they were going to pass inside of Zoom Zoom as they were getting lifted even more.  But the real shocker was taking place further back as the next two boats to round Snake Bell buoy, Sea Lion and Ion, were now running under spinnakers with a NE breeze while Cu na Mara and Zoom Zoom struggled on close hauled in a westerly.  Zoom Zoom and Sea Lion finally met at Gallows to duke it out in the harbour with Zoom Zoom finishing first.  ooviloo under spinnaker now joined Ion in the attempt to pass a becalmed Cu na Mara but finally the wind gods relented and Cu na Mara was able to pull away and finish with a bit of dignity under spinnaker.  Unfortunately the time limit expired before any of the rest of the fleet were able to finish.  Three hours to go just under 9 miles; it was a painful day!  In the clubhouse afterwards everyone was at a loss to describe what had happened on the water.  Wish we could say it was a good learning experience but we’re not sure what what we learned.


Results for Race Day 2

Race Day 2 Photos

Winter Series 2012: Race Day 2


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Race Day 3 - February 5

It was a crisp day...At least the sun was shining and there was no rain. Initially it appeared bleak about the potential for even getting a race in; but, with a change in the start line and some kindly change provided by the wind gods, it enabled two races to be run.

The downwind start in the second race provided an exciting display on spinnaker prowess and some drama was to be had with Karl ending up in the ER this afternoon. Fortunately, Karl was OK and made an appearance in bar later-on to display his war wounds.  All in all  it was a fun day to be out on the water.


Results for Race Day 3

Race Day 3 Photos

Winter Series 2012: Race Day 3

Winter Series 2012: Race Day 3

Winter Series 2012: Race Day 3


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Race Day 4 - February 19

Eight boats showed up today and sailed with 3 races.


Results for Race Day 4

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Race Day 5 - March 5

It was a balmy and breezy end to a very weather-friendly series when we sailed the fifth and final race of the Winter Series yesterday.  A Race Committee of Ken Holland and Robby Taylor on board Mark Pearce’s shiny looking Ruckus got 3 races off, all of them in good solid breeze. 

The first race began with a windward beat to Jack Point in 13-15 knots of air.  Cu Na Mara helmed by Bill Allan did a good job of the start hitting the line with speed and stretching her legs on the port side of the course.  It was tricky around the mark where the wind became shifty in both velocity and direction.  The outside paid for the bigger boats who rounded the mark first and settled in for the leeward run to the grassy knoll and the yellow leeward mark to port.  A short upwind beat to the line adjacent to power-squadron reef was quickly completed by Cu Na Mara in a shade under 45 minutes with Blue Marble Rider and Zoom making the first three finishers.

The industrious singlehanders out there – Rob Sheeley on Dragonfly and Rick Saunders on Aeolus - soldiered on in the first race, but, with the conditions getting rougher, both sagely decided to retire before and during the second race, where even for crewed boats, it was becoming more like work!

The second race was longer with a freshening breeze up to Jack Point, a long downwind to P15 and finish.  On the long leeward leg, the wind had built nicely and, even with the occasional surf, Zoom was easily outpaced by Cu Na Mara and Blue Marble Rider with Sea Lion showing her a clean pair of heels on the preceding upwind leg.  Tantivy was also flying downwind until a mega-puff broached her allowing the fortunate Zoomers to pass.  The wind was, as promised, close to 15 knots and, on passing the RC we wondered if the committee boat would continue to be on station by the time we finished, but she stayed hooked-in to acknowledge Cu Na Mara, Blue Marble Rider and Sealion’s podium places; Sealion again getting past Zoom  upwind by dint of a better tactical decision to stay out and in the rougher water where some current paid dividends.

A downwind start to the PL east cardinal buoy near Horswell Rocks was the designated leeward mark for the third race.  Cu Na Mara took line honours again, squeezing us out and into Sealion’s wind-shadow.  Sealion, with her bright heavy-weather chute, and Zoom spinnaker-chute raced all the way to the leeward mark, with the Zoomers catching a surf just outside the 3 boat length zone to break overlap during the spinnaker drops.  On rounding the mark, Cu Na Mara had decided to stay in and headed to Newcastle Island, and Zoom followed, covering Sealion.  Sealion then broke cover and tacked to starboard heading out.  A very obliging ferry managed to squeeze between the two boats which made for some interesting wind, wave and swell combinations!  Cu Na Mara stretched her legs, Blue Marble passed Sealion and Zoom on the upwind beat to Gallows, and all the sailors got the perfect finish with a gentle spinnaker run to the Yacht Club and the line.  Cu Na Mara finished well ahead, with Blue Marble choosing to sail towards the Nanaimo side of the harbour.  This slowed her a little and allowed Zoom – staying closer to the Satellite Reef side of the harbour to close the gap a little at the end and maintain a slim lead over Sealion for some sweet revenge.

 Thanks to Ken and Robby: it was a smoothly run day, with the weather gods again showing up.


Results for Race Day 5

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