Lake Ontario 300: The Story

Saturday morning at 7:00, the Falcon GT slipped the lines and headed out of Bronte Harbour towards Port Credit Yacht Club for the start of the Ontario 300. The weather was calm, mist rising off the still water and fog shrouding the shore. We had to motor. Anticipation was high amongst the crew*, but the lack of wind was a concern.

We arrived outside of PCYC around 9:00 am and dropped anchor, waiting for the start of the race. There were around 130 boats, in various classes, taking part in the regatta. We were in the fully crewed spinnaker division 2 along with 10 other boats.

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At 10:55 am, with a downwind start we pulled up the spinnaker and raced towards the first mark at Gibraltar Point off the Toronto Islands. It was quite the sight to see all the boats flying their spinnakers around us. However, the winds slowly started to die and become variable.

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Early in the evening, a thunderstorm rolled in with heavy rains but it cleared rewarding us with a brilliant rainbow and sunset. As night fell we continued to fly the chute, but the winds became increasingly fickle. In the darkness the fleet started to spread out, each charting their separate course searching for the wind.

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Stuart and I had first watch and, during the night, we played cat and mouse with other boats around us. A breeze would pick up filling our spinnaker and we would skim past the competition. Then it would die collapsing our kite and allowing the other yachts to slide ahead. And so it went as the darkness drifted on. At 1:00 am Sunday, John and Doug took over and we went below to sleep. Some time that morning, perhaps 2:00 am, I heard the rain return.

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At day break we were alone having tacked out into the lake. The rain continued but the wind was gone except for light whispers. We struggled to make way and from 1:33 pm to 5:25 pm made only about 5.5 nautical miles. During that time, we had only rare sighting of other boats – our competition? We did not know.

Sunday, 5:25 pm our position was 43° 47.727′ N by 78° 00.425′ W and speed over ground at a neck breaking 0.0 knots. There was absolutely no wind. A bored Thomas took a swim while his old man slept. Still waiting for a current of air, at 7:00 pm we had lasagna while watching Donnie Brasco starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp – I highly recommend it. After the movie, John called a crew meeting to consider whether we go on or withdraw. We had hoped for strong winds to push the boat and us. Since we had not gotten that and the forecast was for continued variable winds, we abandoned the race. So on July 20th at 8:30 pm we turned on the engine and headed home.

In the waning hours of our sail, as we approached Bronte Harbour, the Coast Guard sent out a storm-warning broadcast for severe thunderstorms with potential of waterspouts. Around us, the breeze picked up to gale force. The birds fought the wind making no headway, the boat bucked at the chance to go but it was too late for us and we headed into the harbour, our race done.

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But the race and sail was not a waste. We gained more experience on the boat and it was the first time we had sailed with a full crew. The continued rain stressed the importance of keeping the inside of the boat dry at all costs. We discovered a few new minor issues that need to be worked on. In addition, for me, it reinforced the fact that my photography and computer equipment must be stored in watertight cases. Therefore, while we did not get the weather or the glory we wanted the race was well worth it.

* Thomas was in for Doug Gayford who is still in Australia

For more pictures click here.

To see the path that the Falcon GT and other boats took go to http://trackinfo.fistracking.com/2008solmarlo300/and for results go to http://www.lo300.org/

2 Responses to “Lake Ontario 300: The Story”

  1. good site unglsa

  2. You write very well.

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