the 2017 Wayfarer Long Distance Race
Sail Parry Sound * Sunday 6 August
report by Uncle Al
updated: 2 Sept 2017 at 1400 hrs
Sue Pilling/Steph Romaniuk Come-Back Kings in First Parry Sound LDR

The Sail Parry Sound team of Sue Pilling and Steph Romaniuk overcame a start-line seven-twenty and the resulting large deficit to win the 57th annual Wayfarer Long Distance Race in an elite fleet of six boats. Of the six competing helms, four had won our finest trophy at least once. It was particularly lovely to have Frank Goulay and his wife, Kim Bergevin, back with us in the lovely wooden W648 KGB after a seven-year absence. And what a marvellous surprise it was to see Barry Hitchcock back to much improved health after recent difficulties!

Regatta Co-Chair, Sue Pilling, welcomes Kim and Frank back into the fold.

One of the many squalls that marked Saturday's weather

Saturday afternoon: The decision is made to ...

 ... postpone our race until the next day. Defending champs,
Dave Hansman
(r, yellow) and Dave Richardson (r, orange) could not stay for Sunday.

This year the Long Distance Race was set to make its Parry Sound debut on Saturday 5 August, after a storied history that began in 1961 in Brockville and included dozens of stop-overs in the North Bay area and occasional stops in Conestoga and Lac Deschênes. Unfortunately, cool, wet and threatening weather forced postponement to Sunday. This made it impossible for the defending champions, Davids, Hansman and Richardson, as well as Uncle Al's intended crew, Jeff Beitz, to sail in the event due to previous Sunday commitments.

click here for larger image

click here for larger image

Sunday morning lived up to its brighter forecasts of sunshine, warmer weather and less wind. After breakfast chez Pilling, we were provided with waterproof maps that meticulously outlined and explained the course (above). That explanation was verbally amplified and by 11 AM or so we were off from a shore-based start line between the club and a moored tugboat half a mile away across the bay.

Uncle Al checks out the "boat" end of the line three minutes before the "gun".

Sailing solo, Uncle Al got a port-tack start at the "boat" (right) end of the line as close to the rocks as he dared. After only a couple of board scrapes and an auto-released rudder blade, Al got his blades back down and led the way up the first beat going centre-right towards the first windward mark, green buoy "R35", as did Frank and Kim as well as one of our two Conestoga teams, Leo Van Kampen and wife, Joanne in a fine breeze of 8 to 12 knots. A port-starboard accident right at the start left Sue and Steph in a bit of a hole after doing their turns for having fouled Oakville's David and Anne Pugh.

After a fine upwind leg into winds that were somewhat changeable in both strength and direction, Al rounded "R35" to starboard, holding a slight lead over Frank, Leo and David as the fleet began the second leg, a fairly close port-tack reach to Three-Tree Island which was to be left to port.

David and Anne went high on the reach and then successfully flew their spinnaker into the lead just before we reached Three-Tree Island which they rounded with a nice little edge over Uncle Al (above) onto another fairly lengthy beat to mark ????? to be left to starboard. We all escaped the island's wind shadow in fairly short order. Being directly in the Pughs' dirt, Al tacked to starboard to clear his air only to sail into a dead spot. So he tacked back to follow David despite the fact that the four trailing boats had all peeled off onto starboard. Perhaps ten minutes later, port tack began to get lifted, and David counter-intuitively but very wisely tacked, leaving Al with clear air on the lifted port tack. Al's joy was short-lived, however, as he began to realize he was on outside of a persistent 30° lift. By the time he finally bit the bullet and tacked across ...

... the other five boats (above) were almost literally gone. A fine photo op for my waterproof Pentax.

The next leg was a northerly fairly close reach to Tranch Rock, NE of Horse Island. By now, the only competing boat I could still distinguish with any clarity was W8263, Scott Ramsay and Les Sherratt in St. Brendan, whose brave though not necessarily advantageous spinnaker flying demanded my photographic recognition (above). After we rounded Tranch Rock to port, a brief beat around the north tip of Horse Island was followed by ...

... a long spinnaker leg back to the start/finish line. After duly admiring and recording the St. Brendan spinnaker set onto a close reach (above), I went into my superhero persona, One-Armed Paperhanger Man, in order to set my own spinnaker. The gusts were healthy enough to demand caution, and with St. Brendan's near-capsize during an ill-fated roll-tack attempt a few minutes previously still fresh in my mind, I proceeded accordingly.

Hooking the tip of my tiller into the loop of my tiller-tamer (above) and centering it, I went forward to attach the pole to guy (windward sheet) and mast before tightening the windward barberhauler. The ensuing leeward hoist required its usual tightening of the jib foot to un-catch the guy from the jib tack but otherwise went swimmingly - so to speak. On this gusty close reach, the issue was once more that I needed my left hand for the tiller (now freed from its "tamer") and thus had my right right free to trim the three sails. The jib was easily enough cleated, and so was the main, but if I wanted the spinnaker to stay filled through gusts instead of flogging itself to death, I needed to be able to ease the main only in order to depower my main-spi combination by closing the slot as much as needed while not easing the spi sheet held in the same hand. A cleat for the spi sheet would have come in handy, but I couldn't see anything that might be a suitable jury rig. After letting both and main and spi luff to survive a few near capsizes, I developed a nicely functional technique: I sailed with main trimmed and cleated, but at the first touch of a gust, I uncleated the main and let it run free. This resulted in a few lovely planing rides that were, as the psychological Beaufort Scale puts it so succinctly: "Exhilaration tinged with fear."

Once we cleared the wind-shadow effects of Horse, Mowat and Huckleberry Islands, our course to the finish line became pretty much a dead run with a bit of a dog leg that necessitated a gybe to port before the finish. I was busy trimming my spinnaker which was surprisingly jumpy, perhaps due to frequent surfing, so I am relying on hear-say to report on the following finishes:

By the time the leaders began the last leg, Team Pugh and Team Pilling were neck and neck for the lead with the Van Kampens lying a comfortable 3rd ahead of Frank and Kim, who in turn were well in front of Team Ramsay and Team Paperhanger who were in a close battle for 5th after the aforementioned near-capsize. At the front, the decisive move was Sue and Steph's choice to go to the right near the Parry Island shore while David and Anne chose to stay in the middle. As usually happens with a breeze blowing parallel to a shore, there was better breeze funneling along the shore and Sue and Steph became the winners of this year's race by a comfortable margin. No other surprises as Leo and Joanne held 3rd ahead of Frank and Kim. It was a bit of a surprise that Al moved past Scott and Les during the spinnaker reach where it apparently came down to who minimized sailing difficulties better or perhaps Al's lighter "crew weight".

One thing was definitely equal for us all: We had a great day of sailing all the way, and we owe a great debt of gratitude to Sue and Steph and their Sail Parry Sound volunteers for all their fine work on our behalf.

PS: Did I mention that I docked with my spinnaker up? Luffing head to wind under spi stopped me very nicely and Frank then grabbed me before I could drift backwards back out to sea.

Our group - click here for larger image

6th place: Scott Ramsay (r) and Les Sherratt of the Conestoga SC

5thh-place Uncle Al receives moose and beaver cup coolers from our Regatta Chairs.

Frank and Kim scored a fine 4th in their first time back in Wayfarers.

3rd place went to Leo and Joanne Van Kampen.

David and Anne Pugh were runners-up to ...

... Sue Pilling and Steph Romaniuk of the host club, Sail Parry Sound.

LDR Most Improved were (l to r) Leo, Joanne, Sue and Steph who each beat their seed by three places.