Alastair Ryder-Turner and son, Andrew
|(170725) Meet Alastair Ryder-Turner and
son, Andrew, your 2017 Wayfarer North American
champions. On the breezy Sunday after a windless
Saturday, the champions appeared dead in the water,
having scored 3-12 in what turned out to be a four-race
series, while David and Anne Pugh scored a pair of
convincing wins. But as the winds gradually increased,
Alastair and Andrew scored a pair of bullets while the
Pughs had the wheels fall off with a 5th and a capsize
Chance of a lifetime: High water let Uncle Al moor SHADES/Glory Days
in the very spot she usually occupies on her trailer on the front dock.
Our 2017 North Americans were hosted July 22-23 by the Toronto Sailing & Canoe Club despite the fact that record Lake Ontario water levels still have much of the club's waterfront submerged. Kudos to Regatta Chair, Thomas K. Wharton, and especially to our Race Officer, John O'Dwyer, and his race committee. John was fun to be with as we dawdled away a windless Saturday, and a flawless race manager in Sunday's fresh winds of 12 to 15 knots with gusts nearing 20 knots. The 1:30 PM cut-off time on Sunday had not been reached when we cried "Uncle" even though John and his committee were willing to give us one more race.
Our very able RC was led by John O'Dwyer (left) with fine help from
Jenelle and Felix as well as Linda Heffernan (taking this picture)
the much appreciated rescue crew
The club's paying the TSCC Junior Instructors to man the safety boats turned out to be a stroke of genius as four boats capsized almost simultaneously towards the end of the final race. Our thanks to these young men who very professionally and capably rescued not just the sailors but also their boats.
Meanwhile, back at the results board manned by Uncle Al, many of us were us were surprised (having not read the SI's carefully enough) that by getting four races in, we had reached the one-drop stage. This was a god-send to a number of the top boats who had big, juicy drops, while Al, Sue, Marc and Monica were the only helms with single-digit drops: 6th, 8th, 9th and 9th respectively. They were less enthused about the drop.
Worth noting about our winners out of the Mississauga SC is the fact that Alastair and Andrew were seeded 13th and have become the lowest seed to win an event since seeds were begun nearly 30 years ago. A testament to how evenly matched our fleet was this time around. Bad luck for Andrew's older brother, David, who was the Saturday crew when no races were sailed due to lack of wind.
Top-seeded David and Anne Pugh made it a 1-2 sweep for the Mississauga SC and were in fact the only the only highly seeded team to crack the top five. A DNF due to spinnaker troubles in the finale put an end to their hopes of duplicating their 2013 North American title.
George Blanchard would have smiled as W4600 Redtop, George's bequest to TS&CC's Mike Codd, had her best day ever as Mike and crew, Kirk Iredale, came back from a first-race 12th to place 3rd overall, 9 places better than their seed.
Our Irish guests, Monica Schaefer and Miriam McCarthy, did the Mark IV delivered from Detroit by Nick and Chip proud. After an unpromising 8-9 start to their series, the 7th-seeded Monica roared back with 2-3 finishes to grab series 4th on a tie-breaker with Uncle Al and son, David. That 3rd in the final race subsequently was upgraded to a 2nd when Monica and Miriam were given redress after one of the boats towing a rescued boat interfered with them and cost them 2nd in that race. Good sport that she was, Monica did not further push for redress that would and probably should have reversed her and Mike Codd's finish position back to the clear 2-3 they were lying before the rescue boat incident just prior to the finish. Instead, the ad hoc protest committee of John O'Dwyer, Marc Bennett and Al Schonborn, re-instated Monica's 2nd place without changing Mike Codd's 2nd, unaware that reverting to Monica 2nd and Mike 3rd would have left Monica and Miriam with 3rd overall on a tie-breaker as follows:
Miriam and Monica (r)
Coming in from Michigan State country, East Lansing, were 2nd-seeded Marc Bennett and his wife, Julie Seraphinoff, who appeared to have a tougher time with wind and waves on this day and could manage no better than series 6th. They, too, got no favours from the "drop race" after placing 5-3-9-7.
The 4th-seeded pair of Sue Pilling and Steph Romaniuk from Parry Sound placed 7th overall and were also not helped by their consistency: 4-8-8-5. Our lightweight aces, who placed 8th in last year's Worlds in Holland, were of course, hampered by the breezy conditions.
Top finishers from the host TS&CC in 8th place were Kit Wallace and George Waller who looked very good in beating seed by 7 places. Ending up 9th was another lightweight team: Mike and Marg Duncan from the neighbouring Mississauga SC.
Rounding out the top 10 were TS&CC's John Cawthorne and Robert MacDonaled who started great with 2-4 but then capsized in race 3 and withdrew from further racing. You looked great out there, John and Robert!
Mississauga SC's Rob Wierdsma and daughter, Samantha, out did their 14th seed by three places despite a capsize in one of their races. Following the Wierdsmas were locals, Heider Funck and Tom Wharton, who have numerous North American and Canadian titles on their résumé, but the 5th-seeded pair were a bit off their game on this particular day. Not surprising as they were sailing a holed boat whose repair job was leaking.
The Conestoga SC was well represented by Jan d'Ailly and son, Hendryk. They were too late to sail race 1 but then placed 13-12-11 to place series 13th, beating their seed by four places.
The wash-out of Saturday's racing was particularly unfortunate for a pair of North Carolina entries, especially Richard Johnson and wife, Michele Parish, of the Blackbeard SC in New Bern who had come all this way just for this event. They needed to leave early to get back home and so missed half of the races and fell to 14th.
Jim Heffernan, along with wife, Linda, the main mover behind the Lake Townsend Fleet in Greensboro, North Carolina, was able to sail this event with his grand-daughter, Claire, who happened to be doing research at the University of Toronto and was able to get free to sail with grandpa!
Jim and Claire
TS&CC Commodore, Bob Stevenson, teamed up with a new crew, Amy Langstaff, and this duo turned in a most respectable performance, beating their 18th seed by two positions, despite a pair of DNF's. Amy's and Bob's racing ended abruptly when their Mark IV was rammed and capsized to windward into a mast-down "turtle" during which excitement his rudder came off and now resides at the bottom of Lake Ontario.
That same event ended the day's racing for Susan Davis and Amanda Yilmaz who thus ended up 17th overall, one point up on 8th-seeded Uwe Heine and his wife, Nancy Collins (Commodore of Greensboro, NC's Lake Townsend YC) who had just sailed the Rally on Wellesley Island, and opted for an early start to the long trip back to North Carolina.
The sailing as seen by Uncle Al
At my freshly reached age of 76, I still have not learned good personal balance in the kind of choppy conditions we had on Sunday, especially trying to stand in the boat going downwind. All I ended up doing on the runs was to try to surf and to avoid having to gybe, as much as possible. It was a blessing to have a crew who could be trusted to handle the spinnaker very well. I did not see much on the runs except that at the finish, we were usually in very close races with a number of boats.
Conventional wisdom indicated that in this east wind, the George Blanchard Memorial Shift would be in effect, meaning it should pay to bang the left corner. My plans to do so was further re-inforced by the fact that the start mark was directly north (bearing 0°) of the RC boat. That meant we should have been able to sail 45° on starboard tack if the line was square to the wind. But the best we could sail on starboard was 25-30°, meaning that the pin end was 15-20° favoured. We were surprised to get the pin-end start uncontested. But things did not go as we had hoped and we rounded the windward mark in the bottom third of the fleet.
We gained a bit on the run but it soon became clear that the boats in front of us were all going to round the starboard gate mark which they could do without gybing for the most part. Which encouraged us to try the port gate mark which we rounded alone. The long port tack into the right corner of the course was blessedly peaceful after the nerve-wracking port tack along the port layline where starboard boats coming along was a constant threat.
Imagine our pleased surprise when we came across and found ourselves right with the leaders. Sadly, our spinnaker work left something to be desired, as did my helming, as we fell to 6th, close behind two or three boats at the finish.
In Race 2 with line and wind unchanged, I again opted for the pin, got it totally uncontested, and tacked to port as soon as I could. This worked well as the right side again paid off, although we had a bit more company this time. In the event, the right side was favoured all day and I am left to wonder if the current - if any from the extremely high water level being let out through the St. Lawrence - out there might have been stronger.
Anyway, we were, I believe, 2nd, just behind the Pughs as we approached the leeward gate. A gybe to the left-hand mark seemed more trouble than it was worth, so I decided to follow the Pughs around the mark but then tack immediately to head right once more. Oh joy, I thought, as I looked up from our well executed tack after rounding to see a wall of six overlapped Wayfarers, several on starboard. It seemed a huge sacrifice to bear off to the broad reach that would be required to avoid the oncoming fleet. So we tacked back, now much further behind the Pughs who had rounded two lengths ahead, and by the time of my second port-tack attempt we were well down into the middle of the fleet. Lesson learned: Take one last look at the situation before you leap!
Thanks again to our Race Officer, John O'Dwyer (l) and Regatta Chair, Tom Wharton.