Hamilton, Canada, July 3-5, 2015. Photos by Francis Fougere.
Royal Hamilton Yacht Club and Snipe Fleet 877 put on a fantastic North American Championship over the 4th of July weekend in Hamilton, Canada (where they’d just celebrated Canada Day instead, on July 1). Scheduled as a warmup event for the Pan Am Games, the 31 boat fleet had representatives from eight countries. As one competitor said after racing, “It’s so easy when you can just identify a boat by its letters.”
Lake Ontario is not known for big breeze in the summer, but Hamilton Harbor has a localized thermal that built to the class minimum for Friday and Saturday—and even a bit beyond on Friday. Five races in flat water and subtle but significant shifts across the course made for a wealth of passing opportunities, and a sharp eye on the photos from Francis Fougere will spot quite a few lead and overall position changes. By the finish line, though, Raul Rios/Fernando Monilor (PUR) were first across in all but one race; Peter Commette/Ellie O’Brien managed to mar a perfect Puerto Rican run of bullets by winning race two.
Second place finishers Luis Soubie/Diego Lipszyc (ARG) were using the regatta as a tuneup for the Pan Am Games, sailing Ernesto Rodriguez’s new DB Snipe. “The boat is so much stiffer than my boat at home,” Luis said. “I can’t feel anything! In my boat, my feet move under me with the waves.” And a stiff boat is good, right? “Well probably it’s faster than my boat, but maybe not for me.”
Team Argentina’s scoreline might have looked quite different if the races ended at the first mark; their incredible comebacks provided both inspiration and frustration to all the teams they passed along the way.
Peter Commette/Ellie O’Brien always finished in the top group, but in what would turn out to be the final race of the regatta, their patience with the left side on the first beat was not rewarded and they (along with overall fourth place finishers Carol Cronin/Jensen McTighe) rounded the first mark with a large pack of boats ahead. Sometimes going back to the unfavored side can yield impressive dividends, especially when the breeze fades everywhere else; both teams let the rest of the fleet jibe away, while they held on starboard until halfway down the run. When they finally jibed, it was into third and fourth place respectively.
Ashore, the fleet was treated to music by the SnipeTones on Saturday night after a cook-your-own steak dinner. The RHYC facilities were big enough to allow for a wedding (lacy dresses, black suits) to coexist with more casual regatta-wear (shorts, tshirts), as everyone gathered on the front lawn for a spectacular red-ball sunset.
In spite of a heroic effort to fit in one more race on Sunday, the breeze could never find a direction it was happy with and the race committee wisely ended the event shortly before the 2pm cutoff. Trailers were loaded to head for home or for Toronto’s Pan Am Games, and we all said goodbye to friends new and old until the next regatta.
In addition to the overall results, t-shirts were handed out for the following achievements:
Oldest boat: 27469, Owen Hall Durocher/Daniel Durocher
Top Junior skipper: Guy Thomas
Top Junior crew: Jensen McTighe
Top Canadian Team: JJ/Tracy Hall
Top Master: Peter Commette
And no matter how far each competitor had to go, we all appreciated the great feeding before we left RHYC!
… full results …